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July 25, 2011What long appeared likely came to fruition Monday as Highland Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian defensive end Michael Mann gave Arizona State his commitment.
Air Force, Colorado State, Connecticut and Iowa had also reportedly offered Mann, a 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, but his mind kept coming back to ASU over the last several months.
Mann had publicly listed the Sun Devils as his leader all summer and a visit to the school along with his family last week solidified his feelings.
"I knew what I wanted to do," Mann said. "I just wanted everyone's input. I decided Friday and took Saturday and Sunday to see if my heart was still in the same place and it was and today I took a half hour to talk with them. Coach (Scott) Brown was excited, coach (Trent) Bray and [Craig] Bray, and coach (Dennis) Erickson even talked with me for a while. So they were really excited and I also was excited. So that's that and I'm all done.
"It feels wonderful, feels great, it really does. I asked them what else I could do and they said I've done enough, the pressure is off, just focus on my senior year of football. They are going to come see me in the winter. They just said to relax and go have fun being a kid."
Mann has two former NFL coaches to learn from on the Valor Christian staff including Travis Kirschke, his line coach, and those men put in a good word with the Sun Devils. It's part of the reason Mann wanted to talk to them before finalizing his decision.
"They thought it was a great fit," he said. "A lot of times I might have not though I could hang with older guys or do certain things and they were the ones who saw potential in me and believed in me and they gave me a lot of confidence in myself through the things they told me and what I have learned from them. They are with me every day and it gave me a lot of reassurance in my ability."
As a junior, Mann had 56 tackles and five sacks for Valor Christian, which won its second consecutive state title.
"[ASU coaches] want me fast," Mann said. "They haven't said I'll only play rush end but they want me fast rather than too big and lose my speed. I'd like to gain 10 pounds, 10 or 15 pounds between now and next summer when I go to ASU."
In a previous interview Mann said the following about his playing style:
"I would describe myself as a speed end, rush end. My strength would be getting to the quarterback. Some colleges maybe see me as a defensive end or stand up outside linebacker. I definitely am aggressive and like to get into the backfield, I'm good with my technique and just really working on pass rushing moves is where I see myself excelling the most in college. Third down situations, maybe putting me in to rush the quarterback and get some good pressure on him."