Plymouth's Mann chooses Trine
PLYMOUTH — Cole Mann is a family man. So when it came time for him to choose a college, he let his family help him decide.
The 2012 Plymouth High School graduate and former Rockie will ply his football skills at NCAA Division III Trine University beginning in the fall.
“My mom loved it and my sister loved it,” he said. “My grandma loved it, and she passed away. She was a big part of my life. Family is a big thing for me, and I wanted to go somewhere where they were comfortable.”
The 6’2”, 230-plus-pound All-Northern Lakes Conference pick took a detour to the offensive line during his senior high school season, but he’s looking forward to returning to his more natural position at fullback with the Thunder in Angola. Mann’s athleticism and experience at multiple positions gives him a wide skill set that should add both power and versatility to Trine’s I-formation/ spread offense.
“He can play at a lot of different spots,” said Plymouth head football coach John Barron. “They’re a spread team, but they’re also a team that runs some power football, and Cole certainly showed that he can run. He’s a kid in high school that could have played from center all the way out to tight end. He’s a real big, powerful kid. He can catch the football out of the backfield. He’s got really soft hands, runs good routes. Those things are really important for kids at that next level — they need to be able to block, they need to be able to run, they need to be able to catch the ball and pick up blitzes — and those are all things that he can do.”
“I like to have a lot of weight on me,” said Mann. “I really like pressure, and playing the I formation you really have a lot of pressure on you at fullback because you need to block and eventually you’ve got to run the ball for first down for like three or four yards. I love having pressure on me. I don’t like being the guy that’s just one other guy on the field. I look forward to being a big part of the offense, hopefully, and getting to score a lot as well as blocking for the halfback and wide receiver.”
While Mann would prefer a bigger role with Trine’s offense, he demonstrated himself to be the consummate team player during his time with the Rockies, something coaches at any level can appreciate.
“He’s a true Rockie. We ask them to change a lot of positions, and his senior season he was a guy that carried the ball out of the backfield for us. He’s a guy that his sophomore and junior year was the lead fullback and basically was a blocking back for kids who had great careers behind him,” Barron said. “He played defensive tackle for us, he played offensive tackle for us, he played wing for us when we ran the option. He’s a very, very unselfish kid. I think that’s probably, as a coach, one of the things that you really admire and appreciate out of young kids today. He really emulated that his senior year by never questioning the coaching staff’s movements of him, and I really appreciated that.”
“I learned a lot playing here in Plymouth. I came here from Indy so I could play pretty much. I lived here for 13 years and then I went to Indianapolis and decided I wanted to go back to Plymouth,” said Mann.
“I learned how to just have my teammates’ back. That’s what they’re all about at Plymouth. I played all four years so I learned from a lot of good guys. I learned from Leneil Himes, Gordy Holloway and Trent Keyser and all of those guys. I always wanted to be like them and make the impact that they made, and I was captain so I hope that I had that leadership for the guys that are coming up. Hopefully they’ll do the same thing that I did.”
Mann is hoping to hit the ground running, and he chose Trine partly because of the possibility of playing as a freshman. But he also wants to be a part of a winning program, and the Thunder have had some success in the past several years, with back-to-back Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships in 2008 and 2009, a year in which the team earned a bid to the DIII football playoffs.
“My junior year I went for a visit to Trine in Angola, and I just loved everything about it. I guess I just felt right at home,” he said. “When I talked to the coaches, the past few years they’ve won a conference championship, and that’s big for me because everybody wants to be successful, but I want to be on a team that’s good. I think a couple years ago they made a run at a national championship at the national tournament.”
Ever the family man, Mann gave credit to his kin for helping him reach the next level, and he says he’ll be playing for them.
“I didn’t make it by myself. It was just a long process,” he said. “I’d like to thank my mom because it’s just been pretty much me and her for a long time, and she’s helped me out a lot. Before my grandma passed away she helped me through a lot. I’ll be playing for her.”