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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Aggies find unassuming star in junior Braden Mann, one of the best punters in the NCAA

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Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Junior Braden Mann has broken multiple punting records this year, including single game punting average and is on pace to break more as the Aggies start the second half of their season. 

Humble and talented — two words closely associated with Texas A&M’s junior punter Braden Mann.
With a standout year that has included record-breaking performances and two consecutive SEC special teams player of the week mentions, Mann has become a staple figure for the team, and people are taking notice.
In his three years at A&M, Mann has been the chief kickoff specialist, but he’s taken up a new responsibility this season, serving as both a punter and kickoff specialist. He said the success he’s had as an Aggie is something he’s worked toward since high school.
“I was just trying to be better than I was before,” Mann said. “Every day I’d go out and film myself in high school and just try to be better than I was the day before that. I don’t know if I ever really stopped to think about wanting to be better than anyone else — just better than myself.”
Mann began his freshman year at A&M averaging 63.9 yards from 76 kickoff attempts and 47 yards in his only two punts that season. While his sophomore year didn’t quite reach these numbers, Mann still averaged 62.4 yards on 73 kickoff attempts and collected 4,553 yards with 33 touchbacks, all from kickoffs.
In his six games this season, Mann has already improved his average to 64.7, making him seventh in the country in terms of kickoffs.
Adding more punts to his resumé, Mann has completed 298 yards for five punts this season. He is averaging 59.6 yards per punt and could break the current 47.5-yard record set by former A&M punter Drew Kaser in 2015.
Mann most recently produced the third longest punt in Division I football and in the university’s history with his 82-yarder in last week’s matchup against Kentucky.
“I looked back, and I was standing on my own [3-yard line],” Mann said. “I was like ‘alright, just let it eat and see how far it can go.’ It got the roll of a lifetime, so hopefully next time I’m backed up that far, I can hopefully get the same rule.”
Mann is one of the smallest punters in the SEC at 5’11” and 190 pounds. His small frame and height make punting harder than most, and Mann is aware of this factor.
“Throughout high school, I just saw guys that were 6’3”, 6’4” with a long frame, and you see in the NFL the average punter is about 6’4”, so I know I’ve got that chip on my shoulder, and I just got to make up for it,” Mann said. “If I don’t have the long leg, I’ve got to have the faster leg.”
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said Mann is unlike any other kicker he has worked with because Mann is able to focus solely on his game and doesn’t falter in the techniques that seem to work for him.
“He’s very consistent,” Fisher said. “He doesn’t get bored. … Kickers are like golfers.You talk about Tiger Woods, how many times does he change his swing? [Kickers] get bored and they tinker.”
As a junior, Mann would be eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft, and with his record, he would surely be a prospect for teams. However, Mann said he does not plan to cut his time as a student athlete short.
“I think for me, it’s first and foremost getting my degree,” Mann said. “It’s what I came here to do. I didn’t come here to go pro. I also had dreamed my entire life about playing college football, and I’m living the dream right now. I really wouldn’t want to cut that dream short for any amount of money.”

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