Manhertz, a potential restricted free agent, has become a reliable blocking tight end over the past two seasons, and he added his first touchdown this past season - a 50-yard score against the Saints on Monday Night Football on a pass thrown by running back Christian McCaffrey.
"That moment just reminded me again of my journey. From having not played football to scoring a touchdown on Monday Night Football – that's a story you can't make up," Manhertz said. "Any kids out there who have aspirations, I would just say put your head down and keep working."
A basketball player at Canisius College who had never played football, Manhertz went undrafted in 2014 but played in his first three NFL games for the Saints in 2016 before they waived him and Carolina claimed him. He played in four games that season for the Panthers but logged just 12 offensive snaps before beginning to develop into an important blocker in 2017 in addition to logging significant snaps on special teams.
"Over the course of the years I've been here, I think I've established myself as a reliable teammate, a reliable asset – especially in the run game. I'm fortunate to be with an organization that values that," Manhertz said. "It's exciting and rewarding. It's also humbling just knowing where I started. To get to this point, it's a testament to perseverance. It took a lot of persistence, a lot of hard work and just not giving up.
"There were moments where I didn't think it was for me, but something inside me told me that if I've started something, I should try my best to finish it. I'm glad this has all come to fruition."
Manhertz has totaled four receptions for 69 yards over the past two seasons, but he's played in every game. The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder has been in for about 30 percent of Carolina's offensive snaps over the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
"Anyone would like to see the ball thrown their way more, but for me it's just a matter of getting better every year, and I've been able to do that," Manhertz said. "I have goals and aspirations to expand my game and have a bigger role on this team."