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Although he understands the need to work harder than ever, Columbus North junior baseball player Devin Mann said it’s also time for him to relax.
Negotiating his way through a recruiting storm since college coaches were able to contact him via email on Sept. 1, Mann decided to make quick work of the process and verbally committed to the Louisville Cardinals.
Mann had contacted several top universities about their interest in him the past year, but Sept. 1 was the first day the programs could go after him. They did.
Among the programs trying to sign Mann have been Kentucky, Western Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina, Duke, Western Michigan and Stanford.
“It has been crazy,” said Mann’s mother, Diana Mann. “It really became overwhelming. They want kids to commit early, and it’s a stressful process.
“But we are very proud, very happy and very relieved.”
Mann, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound shortstop, hit a school-record .532 as a sophomore with 11 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 32 RBI. He also set a North record with 30 stolen bases.
He joins a program that has made significant strides in the world of college baseball. Louisville went 51-14 last season and earned its second trip to the College World Series. Both those trips have come under coach Dan McDonnell, who enters his eighth season.
The scholarship won’t cover 100 percent of his expenses, but Diana Mann said Louisville’s offer was “substantial.”
“Through my travel ball team (the Indiana Bulls), I had talked to a lot of college coaches,” Devin Mann said. “I decided that Louisville was best for me. They have great facilities and dorms, which are comparable to hotel rooms; new turf on their field; and great hitting cages.”
The program also offered one other huge bonus: It’s only an hour away.
“I can still hit with my dad,” he said.
His father, Bill, and mom have helped him every step of the way. “I’m glad I can give back to them for all they’ve put into this,” he said. “Day in, day out, they have been pushing me.”
With his parents able to come see him play, the decision was clinched.
“The recruiting process already was crazy,” Devin Mann said. “I was getting five to eight emails a day and three to four letters asking me to come visit. It was stressful. I definitely have a weight lifted off my shoulders now.”
He is going to play basketball this season, most likely at the junior varsity level to start.
“I’m just going to have fun,” he said. “This is my chance in the (baseball) offseason to relax. But I’ll still be working out.”
He has been working hard since his eighth-grade year, when he grew a few inches and added substantial weight. The thought of playing baseball in college seemed like more of a reality.
His freshman season at North, he hit .418 and had 16 RBI. He was on his way to attracting attention.
Now he has two more seasons to set more records at North, and perhaps attract a different kind of interest.
Mann watched this summer as his former North teammate, Daniel Ayers, begin his career with the Baltimore Orioles’ Gulf Coast League team.
“He practices seven days a week and is up at 6 a.m.,” Mann said of Ayers. “It’s kind of like a job.”
It’s the kind of job that Mann would love to have.
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