Hank Manos sounded almost sheepish as he said it.
The Chapin center was one of the early commits for South Carolina football’s 2018 recruiting class. He enrolled early, got a good amount of work with the second-team offensive line in the spring.
But he wasn’t openly declaring that little nugget.
“I grew up a Clemson fan,” Manos said.
More than that, it was all but in his blood.
“My granddad played at Clemson probably in the '50s,” Manos said. “He played for the 1951 Orange Bowl team. My whole family is Clemson fans, especially on my dad’s side, which is where my granddad is from.”
Pete Manos was an offensive guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. Playing on an early “two-platoon system” with coach Frank Howard, he was a starter for an offense that averaged 34.4 points per game on a team that went 9-0-1 in 1950 and beat Miami in the Orange Bowl.
At 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, Hank Manos dwarfs his grandfather (5-foot-10, 190 pounds in 1950, his junior campaign). And he left the family tradition.
“I kind of broke the mold with South Carolina,” Hank Manos said. “So happy to never look back.”
At the time of his commitment, the decorated heavyweight wrestler said coach Will Muschamp and offensive line coach Eric Wolford were big factors, and it didn’t hurt his Chapin teammate Will Register was already on campus.
Muschamp mentioned Hank Manos as a freshman who performed well in the spring, even after he started at guard before moving back to center. Wolford said he’s still going through the transition from high school, adding weight and getting used to the speed of the game.
“You can tell that he likes to be in close quarters with guys,” Wolford said. “That’s good and bad. I want him to play with more separation. … As an offensive lineman, you want to be able to play with extension, so that’s something we’ll work on.”
Hank Manos’ choice to become a Gamecocks didn’t start when this staff started coming after him.
It began far earlier.
“I told them from a young age I probably wasn’t going to Clemson,” Hank Manos said. “I wasn’t a fan of the school as far as the campus. Big fan of Columbia, the whole city aspect of it. I love it. They kind of knew from a young age I was kind of leaning more toward South Carolina.”