Name: JaFar Mann
High School: Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA)
Status: Verbally committed to Florida
The second of the Stephenson prospect currently committed to the Gators, Mann is one of three defensive linemen on Florida’s 2012 list. Along with high school teammate Mike Davis, Mann has been trying to recruit some of the other Stephenson athletes to head on down to Florida as well.Have you ever watched a defensive lineman that "gets it" play the game? By getting it, I mean one who always has his eye on the ball. His primary objective isn’t to beat his man; it’s to find the ball. Beating the offensive lineman assigned to block him is just one step to finding and destroying whoever may happen to have the ball at any given moment. These are the types of defensive linemen that turn into elite, destructive forces. The others play well, good, and, at times, even great, but they also have those plays where they may beat their man only to turn around and find the ball carrier 10 yards down field. They end up where the quarterback was before he rolled out anticipating the pass rush.
Watch his highlights and you can tell Mann "gets it." Upon first contact with the offensive lineman in front of him, his head is always pointed toward the ball. He treats the blocker like a small nuisance that he must quickly dispose of on the way to achieving his ultimate goal of downing the ball carrier. Almost like a small fly that you have to swat away, but doing so doesn’t divert your attention to whatever else you’re doing. Mann simply pushes his man to one side; makes the play. Throw in a spin move; blindside the quarterback. Step one way, explode toward the other; make the running back wish he hadn’t picked that hole to run through.
It’s a strength for a number of reasons, but mostly because Mann doesn’t get lost. He’s involved in the play one way or another. He feels he can stop any ball carrier and get to any drop-back passer. It’s half ability, half intelligence. Mann has turned himself into a force by paying attention to the movement of the ball and knowing where he is on the field and where he needs to be.
Mann has room to grow at the next level and will have to if he’s going to play defensive tackle in the SEC. The plus is that he definitely has the ability to do so. At 275 pounds, he has the size already to continue to grow and bulk up fairly quickly. SEC offensive linemen aren’t the small nuisance that the high school ones Mann is used to. He will have to pay more attention to them and use added strength to have his way with them. It will be a tough transition for Mann in that respect – as it is for any defensive lineman at the college level – but one he has the opportunity to make thanks to the techniques he’s already using on the football field.