Like many Americans who have great emotional stock invested in
the outcome of today’s presidential election, Ross Mann will
be full of anticipation as the results roll in. As Michigan’s
long snapper, Mann has plenty of experience dealing with anxiety.
After all, he plays a pivotal role in each field goal and punt.

Michigan Football
Long snapper Ross Mann (52) blocks during a Garrett Rivas field-goal attempt against Illinois. (TONY DING/Daily)

“You’ve got to have ice water running through your
veins,” Mann said. “You have to get (a field goal) off
in 1.3 seconds, or it’s going to get blocked.”

But Mann is best known on the team for being a political junkie.
As he refers to it, some people get their fix by watching
SportsCenter, while he gets his by watching “Hardball”
and “The O’Reilly Factor.” Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr refers to the Pikeville, Ky., native as a “staunch
Republican.”

“Mann someday will probably run for the governorship of
Kentucky, maybe the Senate,” Carr said.

The fifth-year senior is taking the same approach to
today’s events as he would to each snap he fires — calm
and collected. Mann is certain that President Bush will celebrate
this evening with four more years in office ahead.

“I think he’s going to have 51 percent of the
vote,” Mann said. “I think he’s going to win
Ohio. I know he’s going to win Florida. He’s got a
strong chance in Pennsylvania. I think he’ll make a good
showing in Michigan. I’m confident he’s going to win by
20 electoral votes.”

Mann feels Bush is the right one for the job because of his
strong stand against the War on terrorism.

“Strong conviction, resolve, man of character — John
Kerry doesn’t have any of that,” Mann said.
“We’re living in such terrible times right now, if
we’re not proactive on these terrorists, they’re going
to be proactive on us. George Bush needs to be in office right
now.”

As for the rest of the Wolverines, Carr is encouraging them to
get out to the polls.

“He’s definitely said, ‘Go vote,’
” left tackle Adam Stenavich said. “And I think a lot
of guys are going to take his advice.”

Carr hasn’t told his team — or the media —
which candidate he’ll be voting for, nor does he know the
opinions of most of his players.

“I don’t know what they think about the issues, but
I know that they all have an opinion about who they want to
win,” Carr said.

But Carr does have a very positive opinion about Mann.
Throughout the year, he has brought up the player numerous times
during press conferences — all in praise — this
year.

Mann’s situation is unique for a Wolverine. He came to Ann
Arbor without a scholarship, yet he still sees significant playing
time. Ever since Carr has been the head coach, it has been protocol
for Michigan to groom a walk-on into the long snapper position.
Mann was discovered when defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann went to
his high school, Lexington Catholic, to recruit a kicker. While
watching the kicker on film, he noticed Mann’s snapping
ability, and Mann was eventually invited to walk on to the team.
Mann — who picked up the craft in high school — says
that there is little to the art.

“I really don’t think that much about it,”
Mann said. “I just kind of grab it, grip it and just throw
it.”

Mann says he broke into the starting lineup through hard work
and his diligence paid off, as he eventually earned a
scholarship.

“Ross has done a great job, and I think his teammates
understand the significance of what he does and that it is a
special skill,” Carr said. “And he’s not a big
guy.

“The thing that’s remarkable about him is that
they’re rushing the punts, and they’re rushing the
field goals. And he’s taking a beating in there because he
can’t protect himself. So I think he’s done a great
job, and he’s done an extremely important job on our
team.”

His political views notwithstanding, Mann’s amiable
personality resonates well with his teammates.

“He’s a great character,” punter Adam Finley
said. “He gets along with the team more than
anybody.”

After he graduates, Mann hopes to acquire a year-long internship
with Kentucky senator Jim Bunning before heading to law school.

But for now, Mann will be watching with the rest of America,
interested in what lies ahead for the next four years.

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