Welcome to OU: Kenneth Mann

Sooners early commit had special connection with Jerry Montgomery

They’re no longer commits. They’re no longer signees. They are now freshmen at Oklahoma, and Sooners Illustrated caught up with the majority of the 2015 class one last time before they arrived on campus.

Up next is defensive end Kenneth Mann.

Burleson (Texas) High DE Kenneth Mann (6-4, 240, No. 82 DE)

The story: With Mann, it felt like as soon as the offer happened, it was countdown until his commitment. The spring evaluation period was huge for Mann, who accumulated one offer after another, but it felt like OU was the school to beat. On an unofficial visit in July, he committed and never looked back. – Bob Przybylo

When you first received the offer from OU, what was your reaction?

When I first got it, I realized it was from coach (Jerry) Montgomery. I got it over a message. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up. I jumped in the air and tried to tell everybody. I had been waiting on that offer. Even though I was that excited about it, I didn’t think I was going to commit there as early as I did. I was just thankful for everything how it is now.

Did you get the offer as a text? Was it a message on Twitter?

It wasn’t actually through a Twitter or DM (direct message), but he told me to call him. When it comes to calling, with those words, that’s usual what coaches say when they’re offering. I had offers before, and that’s what all the other coaches did. I called him, and he offered.

When did you know OU was for you?

Soon after I got the offer, I went on another visit to Oklahoma. I think it would have been my second time there. The time before, at junior day, there were a lot more kids there. The second time, I got to see more in-depth of what it was like at OU. I got to talk to some players, see more of what it would be like to be a Sooner. I just loved everything about the campus and the people that were there and everything that was going on and how historic it was. I just felt like I would be a fool to leave without committing.

What was it about the campus that stuck out to you?

The campus: It’s actually the perfect size that I was looking for. It’s not a small campus at all, and it’s not way too big. I was going around and seeing that it wouldn’t be more chill and fun to be around. It was a lot of the people that made me have a good time there. I thought that would be a reason I’d like it.

Have you figured out the roommate situation yet?

Yeah, it’s ‘Que’ – Marquise Overton. Me and ‘Que’ willing be rooming. We took our official visit together. . . . (Dwayne Orso) was our host. We were all together the whole night, and D.J. (Ward). We all spent time together and had a really good time. I got to know him. Que is a really good friend now. I think that’s gonna be really cool having him as a roommate.

Is there a jersey number you’d like to have?

Coach Montgomery, he asked me earlier, like maybe last year, asked me what jersey number I’d like to have. Coming from high school, I had jersey number 11. I would love to have that number. That’s been passed down in my family for generations. Everybody had it. It’s not just a number for us, but if I can’t get that, it’s no problem. The jersey number: I really wasn’t worried about it too much.

What was the toughest part of the recruiting process for you?

My family had been going through a few financial struggles, and my mom didn’t have a car. It was getting up to those visits that weren’t official during my junior year. I couldn’t take those official visits. Getting to those colleges and being able to go places that were really far, I just wasn’t able to do that really, unless my coach took me. The rest of it was an extremely fun experience. I definitely loved everything about it besides that.

What are you looking forward to most at OU?

What I’m looking forward to the most is definitely coming out of that tunnel before the game. I watched those guys come out of there so many times. That atmosphere in Norman is just amazing. The fans are really, really, really good. Seeing the guys with so much built up energy coming out of there, my first time doing it, I think it’s going to be pretty amazing for me.

Did you notice that when you visited?

The atmosphere was completely different from high school, like night and day.

Do you know what you might want to study?

If I had to go tomorrow, I’d pick business management, but I’m not dead set on that. I’ve been hearing people talk about sports management and keeping your career around sports. That sounds really good to me. I’ll probably end up switching it. I’m not too sure about it.

You talked about coach Montgomery a lot already. Was he the most influential coach for you coming to OU, and what was it like for you when he left?

He was. I talked with him a lot. Him and coach Bedebaugh on that visit that I took to see the players. Coach Montgomery was who I talked to the most. He did recruit me a lot and get me to go to OU. . . . Of course, I felt kind of bummed for a second (when he left for the NFL) – a split second. That’s a really good opportunity for him. I was happy more than anything for him. That’s the decision I would have made too. I was just really happy for him.

If Oklahoma wasn’t in the picture, where do you think you would have ended up?

That’s a hard one because I committed so early. I could have gotten more offers after that. I committed before my senior season. I think maybe, if I had to narrow it down, it probably would have been out of maybe Iowa because they showed so much interest in me, talking to me all the time and sending me mail every day. They showed a whole lot of interest in me and playing my freshman year. That coaching staff was pretty great. Maybe Iowa.

What made Oklahoma the best choice?

It was going to OU and seeing how much success there was there. I’m probably the biggest sore loser that you’ll ever meet in your life. They know how to win. That’s what set them apart from all the other schools that offered me. They definitely know how to win – with all their national championship and bowl game wins and coach (Bob) Stoops with how successful he’s been. It definitely caught my eye.

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