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Former Granger achieving his goals

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

When Emmanuel Mann left LaGrange High, diploma in hand, failure was not an option.

Mann, along with two of his former teammates at LaGrange, headed west to California in the fall of 2016 to join the football program at the College of the Siskiyous.

Even before he’d taken his first college class, or appeared in a college football game, Mann was committed to making the most of his opportunity and succeed in athletics and academics.

“That was absolutely my main focus,” Mann said. “I’m a first-generation college student. I’ve got too many looking up to me. I’ve got to set an example, and let them know you can not be trapped.”

True to his word, Mann has indeed succeeded.

After playing football at the College of the Siskiyous for two seasons, Mann was a defensive lineman for Houston Baptist University the past two seasons.

Mann has completed his eligibility as a college-football player, and he’s on track to receive his bachelor’s degree from Houston Baptist later this year.

At LaGrange High, Mann was a standout football player, and he anchored the defensive line during his final few seasons.

Mann helped the Grangers reach the state playoffs as a junior in 2014, and the team went 5-5 during his senior season.

Mann was also an exceptional wrestler at LaGrange who excelled in the heavyweight division.

Mann was one of 11 LaGrange players who signed a letter of intent to play college football in 2016, and he and Bobby Willoughby and Dominique Copeland played at the College of the Siskiyous for two seasons.

“It was a great experience,” Mann said, reflecting on his time in California. “Honestly, that  program is really what made all three of us.”

After two successful seasons at Siskiyous where he was an all-conference player, Mann had a handful of options when it came time to choose a four-year school.

“First, I was receiving offers from NAIA and Division II schools,” Mann said. “I almost committed to one school. Before I decided on that program, (coach Vic Shealey) at HBU, he called me the next day. And he offered a full-ride scholarship. I thought wow, this is crazy. I knew they were a Division I school, and I knew it was in Houston, which was a big city. It was a full ride, and a big city on top of it.”

When Mann left LaGrange, he said “receiving a full-ride scholarship at a Division I school, that’s all I ever wanted. To pull it off, it was a great experience.”

Mann played in 10 games and had 28 tackles his first season at Houston Baptist, and he was even more productive last season with 38 tackles, including seven for loss.

Mann’s numbers at Houston Baptist were particularly impressive considering he played through a multitude of injuries.

“I played my first year with a torn labrum in my shoulder,” Mann said. “This past year I played with another torn labrum in my shoulder, and my cartilage and my meniscus was torn. I played through all the injuries.”

In Mann’s final game against Sam Houston State, when he had two tackles with a sack, he finally had one injury too many and had to leave the field.

“Toward the end of the season, I was having neck spasms every time I hit somebody hard enough,” Mann said. “My last game was cut short because I had two.”

Despite the injuries, Mann enjoyed his time as a college-football player, and now he’s focused on earning his bachelor’s degree before possibly pursuing a master’s degree at Houston Baptist.

Mann has become a student leader at Houston Baptist, and he helps newcomers to the school adjust to life in college.

“I’m one of the go-team leaders at our school,” Mann said. “The go-team leader is a positive influencer for the school, for incoming freshman.”

Looking back on his high-school days, Mann appreciates what the coaches at LaGrange High, including head coach Dialleo Burks, did for him

“They pushed me to be who I am today,” Mann said.