One of the biggest adjustment any high school athlete has to make before seeing the field at the next level of progression is to prepare to meet the increased demands. For Mann, seeing the meetings and Blue Devil practice was a good primer for what may be coming down the line no matter where he ends up.
"In the meeting Coach Jones was really intense and excited about everything they were doing. I loved his energy. At practice the whole team looked really strong and fast. You could tell there's a big difference in the level between high school and college ball."
"Coach Jones was really straight forward with everyone in the room. Every mistake was pointed out and really discussed. Some of the things he pointed out you can get away with at the high school level, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew that you can't do that against other college players."
Mann, who has yet to pick up his first offer, says he's receiving interest from a number of schools including Duke, Virginia Tech, and Vanderbilt. He feels that Duke is the closest of the three programs to offering.
"Coach Petri was the first coach to recruitment, and when I got to Duke last week all of the coaches knew who I was and were really interested in me. They all told me how glad they were to have me on campus, which was great. They want me to come back to campus this summer for one of their camps and said they are going to review my film and follow me. It was just an overall sense of how they treated me that showed how serious they are."
This week Mann will attend a Nike Combine that will provide some measureables to the various coaching staffs involved in this recruitment. As a junior at Northern Nash he played on both sides of the ball recording 43 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, 11 pass deflections, and one defensive touchdown. On the offensive side of the ball he was the team's top kick returner and logged over 700 all-purpose yards.
After taking in the Nike Combine, Mann will head to the Shrine Bowl combine on March 24th and has committed to being back at Duke for a one day camp i the early summer. He's also entertaining attending Ohio State's one day camp invitation and the Elite 100 North Carolina camp.
Once those camps and combines are over, Mann says he believes his recruitment will come into a much clearer focus. And he's motivated to continue working extremely hard.
"Football has been awesome for me. To know that I'll be able to go to college and my parents won't have to worry about the financial aspect of college is mind blowing. That's why I'm going to really look at the best opportunities for me. I'm in a great situation being in Rocky Mount because I'm so close to so many great schools and programs. When Duke called and asked if I wanted to visit I said definitely and it took just over an hour to get there. It's a real advantage for recruiting purposes."
But which factors will be most important for Mann when choosing a school?
"You never know when a serious injury could end your career, which is why academics are so important in my decision. Duke is one of the best schools out there in my opinion, and they really make it a priority for their players to get an education. Last year their football team had an average GPA over 3.0…at Duke! I know I want to major in physical therapy, and their program is top notch as well."
Mann reports a 3.6 GPA heading into the end of his junior season.