If there’s anyone on the Georgia Southern campus who doesn’t like Brandavious Mann let them step up now or forever remain silent.
“He’s a TERRIFIC kid,” coach Jeff Monken said with emphasis. “He’s a great leader, and our kids love him.”
Actually, Mann is nearly as well known for his activities on campus and performance in the classroom as for what he’s done on the field
A 6-foot-2, 258 pound fifth-year senior from Forsythe who played high school football at Mary Persons, Mann is the Eagles’ starting center.
He is also president of the Georgia Southern Student Advisory Board which serves as the liaison to the administration and campus groups for 432 student athletes.
“We do a lot of community service,” Mann said of the SAB. “We raise money for the homeless, work with breast cancer awareness, the Relay Four Life, and at Christmas each sport adopts two kids and makes sure they have a good Christmas. Those are just some of the things we do.”
Mann was also one of 19 Eagle football players who were recognized as members of the Southern Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll for maintaining a 3.0 or better GPA for the 2010-11 academic year.
A member of former GSU coach Chris Hatcher’s first recruiting class he moved into the starting lineup in the fifth game of his sophomore year at left tackle.
Mann got a position change upon Monken’s arrival. He started 14 games last year, and will be the starter Saturday night when Georgia Southern opens at Samford in a 7 p.m. contest.
“Brandavious has battled some injuries, but he’s developed,” Monken said. “Brent saw something in that kid the first spring, and really felt like he was the kind of guy we were looking for in a center.”
Mann was an undersized tackle at 258 pounds in Hatcher’s pass oriented offense, and he had his struggles. He did not hesitate to make the change when approached by offensive coordinator and line coach Brent Davis.
“I had never snapped a football in my life,” Mann said. “Coach Davis said he felt it would help the team, and that’s all I needed to hear. I felt we were ready to turn the corner under coach Hatcher but we just never could get over that hump. Something was always happening to stop us.”
Mann made the transition in the spring, and he remembers it well.
“I was really nervous at first,” Mann said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, I can’t do that.’ There was a lot of pressure.
“The toughest thing was the snap and step. I would snap the ball and then step. A center has to snap and step at the same time,” Mann said. “It all started to click, and then after we beat App last year when they were No. 1 we really started coming together as a unit and as a team.”
Davis has tremendous respect for Mann as a player and as a person.
“He and Brett Moore and William Maxwell are great leaders,” Davis said. “Brandavious has a tremendous work ethic, and he’s a very intelligent kid.
“He’s got a good football mind which is important because as a center he makes all our line calls,” Davis said. “He has to have a grasp of all our schemes. Brandavious has a great demeanor, and he’s very special to all of us coaches.”
Mann also had an interesting gig this past summer when he was a judge for seven weeks at Retrievers Sports Bar and Grill for a weekly contest based on the American Idol show.
“That was fun,” Mann said. “I have no musical background, but they asked me to be a judge. Each week was a different musical theme: one week it was country, another rock ‘n roll, and so forth. I enjoyed it and saw some good talent.”