Meet Your Monarchs: Josh Mann Feature Story
The game-clinching play when Old Dominion earned its first FBS win at Idaho last year was part-triumph, part-crazy and part-heartbreaking. On fourth and three, Taylor Heinicke’s pass was intercepted by Idaho’s Trey Williams, however, Blair Roberts forced a fumble that Zach Pascal recovered, and ODU scored three plays later for the final 59-38 score. What was lost in the craziness of the play was that Josh Mann’s season was finished after tearing his ACL running after Williams.
“I knew something really bad happened. It was a weird deal, with the interception and fumble. I was running across the field and planted off of my knee to cut and the knee just buckled. As soon as my foot hit the ground, I knew something bad happened,” Mann said. “I knew it was bad. I didn’t know it was my ACL but I knew it was something.”
The injury happened in the 10th game of the year and Mann had surgery on the knee during the week of Thanksgiving.
“It was a really rigorous rehab. I had surgery over Thanksgiving and I couldn’t walk on it for six weeks,” Mann said. “When I got back to school I had just started to walk on it for the first time. I had two hours of rehab on top of my lifting schedule and school.”
ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder noticed the way Mann attacked his rehab and was impressed with his ability to get the knee ready for the 2014 season.
“It was a setback for him last year tearing his ACL but I’ve never seen anybody rehab as hard as he has,” Wilder said. “He’s back now going 100 percent in workouts.”
Mann has been cleared to play for the 2014 season just six months after surgery. The average recovery time for an ACL tear is between 7-9 months.
“The knee feels awesome. I’ve been cleared to play this year. It was a huge setback, probably the biggest adversity I’ve faced here. Having overcome that and accomplish all the goals I set for myself this off-season I feel more confident than I ever have,” Mann said. “I never doubted that I’d be back, but to be honest I didn’t realize it be this quick. The goal was to come back and play this year. I put all my focus and energy into rehabbing my knee. I wanted to work as hard as I could and see where that took me.”
A two-year starter at center, Mann enters his senior year as the veteran amongst the offensive line as the group graduated three starters from a season ago.
“It’s crazy. I feel like I’m still a young guy and just got here, but I welcome the challenge. I really enjoy working with this group and honored that they look to me as that leader,” Mann said. “Every day I try to come in and have that on my mind that I’m the guy that needs to set the example and bring these guys along.”
Mann’s ability to be a leader and the way he has carried himself since his freshman year has not gone unnoticed to Wilder.
“He is the epitome of a student-athlete. He has attacked it academically since he’s been here, he’s always on the Dean’s List. From the time I met him during recruiting I knew he was going to be successful in football, academically and his future, whatever he decides to do,” Wilder said. “ He always has a game plan for success, which is what we’re trying to get all of our players to have. He’s always got a plan on what he wants to accomplish.”