When Corby Mann attended his first University of Montana football game back in 2012, his mind was made up. He wanted to wear the maroon and silver when his time came.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior from Red Lodge has seen years of hard work pay off, as he’ll join the University of Montana football program next fall as a defensive end.
I’m excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and athletic career as a Montana Grizzly! I want to give a big thank you to everyone who helped me through this process!#GoGriz pic.twitter.com/S6DNdeBlO6— Corby Mann (@MannCorby) November 20, 2020
“I just love Missoula. My parents take me there every summer. The people, the atmosphere, going downtown and hearing all the music, I just love it. The campus is great. Missoula is just a really good town,” Mann said.
Tight end isn’t necessarily out of consideration for Mann at the next level. He played tight end for Red Lodge early this season before ultimately switching to the offensive line, where the Rams needed his physicality to pave lanes for their bevy of ball carriers.
It’s tough for some of the skill guys to post gaudy numbers in Red Lodge’s run-first attack, but individual success was the last thing on Mann’s mind.
“With injuries, coach (John Fitzgerald) came to me and said, ‘We may have to put you to lineman’ and asked if I was up for it. I told him I’d do anything for this team to get to the playoffs,” Mann said. “I just know what to do and I just push hard to get Jay Jetmore into the end zone, or whoever is running the ball. If I’m not getting the ball I’m going 100 percent blocking for them. … If they ask me to do something and it’s for the team, I’ll do it.”
Red Lodge wound up winning its second consecutive Eastern B regular-season title but fell in the opening round of the playoffs to Columbus, despite having a victory over eventual runner-up Fairfield. Along with a playoff appearance in 2018 and a semifinal finish in 2019, Mann has been a key part of Red Lodge’s recent run of success.
Mann finished the season with 20 tackles, three tackles for loss and five sacks.
“We knew our goals. We were trying to get our goals in line and when we did, we dominated. We were just happy as hell to get into the playoffs the last three years,” said Mann.
Another key to the Rams’ success running the ball was Elijah Reynolds, who became Red Lodge’s first NCAA Division I football commit since at least 2004 when he announced his intentions to go to Montana State. Reynolds and Mann have been classmates and teammates for years, but beginning next fall they’ll be preparing to face off in the state’s most intense rivalry. With Mann potentially lining up at defensive end and Reynolds and tight end, these two could see plenty of each other down the road.
“(Reynolds) and I have been talking about it, having fun with it. Just how each one of us is going to kick each other in the butt and everything. We’re excited for each other. We’re both wanting to play against each other in the future,” Mann said.
For now, though, Reynolds and Mann will hit the hardwood on Monday afternoon when high schools begin practicing for the upcoming basketball season.