Rosemount's Mann commits to play football for the Gophers
If you had asked Rosemount sophomore Jonathan Mann what he envisioned his future in athletics to look like, he would have told you he saw himself running track in college. Life comes at you fast, however, and this past fall Mann saw his life change thanks to his talent on the football field. In the span of weeks, the Irish wide receiver saw himself go from a talented, young pass catcher to receiving scholarship offers from Division I football programs. Now, as of April 17, Mann is verbally committed to the Minnesota Gophers and head coach P.J. Fleck.
Before this past fall, Mann said that he enjoyed football but had not realized it would be the sport for him until the offers started coming in.
"I liked football better, but I always thought I would run track in college," he said. "So when the first offer came, I kind of realized that maybe I would have a shot to potentially play Division I football and that's when I knew I wanted to play."
Mann said the first offer, from Iowa State University in early December, came out of nowhere.
"Honestly, we were very surprised," he said. "I'm the last of six kids and we haven't had any athletes in college sports, so we didn't really know what approach to take or much about it, so we were very surprised."
Mann and his family quickly got help and advice from Rosemount head coach Jeff Erdmann and the rest of the Irish coaching staff on how to navigate the recruiting process. A little over a month later, he received an offer from Iowa, which was followed up by offers from Minnesota and Arkansas in February just days apart. Mann had visited Iowa the week before and received his offer from Minnesota while visiting the Gophers. From there, he committed just a few months later on April 17.
The family approached the recruiting process with an open mind, and Mann said that Minnesota was not a favorite right out of the gate, though he did want to be close to home. However, Minnesota held great appeal to Mann once he saw what they they had to offer, which ultimately spurred his commitment.
"A lot of it was the culture, they have a lot of great things going for them with Coach Fleck, what he's bringing to the program and what he's done in the past and what we think he will do," Mann said. "Also, probably the biggest part of it was the schooling. I want to be in broadcast journalism and they have a very strong program in a very large media market, so that was very attractive to us."
Unlike basketball, where once a player gives a verbal recruitment other schools cease recruiting them, in football, schools still routinely offer and actively recruit players who have verbally committed. However, Mann said that this will be a non-factor for him.
"If there's anybody else who would like to offer me, that would be interesting, but hopefully they know I'm true to my word and I'm going to the University of Minnesota," he said.
Looking ahead, Mann is in the midst of another successful track season. Last year, Mann set records for freshmen in the 110-meter hurdles, and he has already won the event in several meets this season, including the prestigious Hamline Elite Meet this past weekend. As for the offseason, Mann said he will be attending some camps, and has also been invited to take in Gophers practices. He will also be working to improve his game heading into his junior season.
"I would definitely like to get stronger and faster, and also improve on some route running and blocking, I guess," Mann said. "There's endless amount of things I can work on, but those are some of the main ones."
Mann said his strength on the football field is his size (he is listed at 6 feet 4 inches, 190 pounds on 247), which is a significant advantage when going against smaller cornerbacks. He is ranked third among football prospects for the class of 2020 in the state of Minnesota behind Kaden Johnson and Jalen Suggs of Minnehaha Academy, according to 247Sports. Mann is listed as a three-star prospect and is Minnesota's first commit for 2020. Last season, he caught 30 passes for 662 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season and playoffs.
Mann credits his brother, Josiah Mann, 20, his Irish coaching staff and his parents with helping him get to where he is today.
"My brother, Josiah, he's a big reason why I play sports," he said. "When I was little, when I was growing up and looking up to him, he played sports, so whatever he did I wanted to do. So when he played football, I wanted to play football. The big shout out would be to him, we spent a lot of time working together, working out and playing a lot of sports. Also, a big shout out would be to my coaches, coach Erdmann, coach Swansson and everybody else, for taking the time to work with me whenever and always knowing and doing what's best for me. And my parents, just for everything, every opportunity they've ever given me is just a blessing."