Bangor big boys headed to the next level
After stellar gridiron careers in high school, a pair of Bangor’s big boys are ready to tackle football at the collegiate level.
Standouts on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Cardinals over the past three seasons, seniors Michael Reed and Grant Manke have committed to continue playing football at a pair of Minnesota colleges this fall.
Reed plans to play at Rochester Community College (RCC), while Manke has accepted a partial scholarship to play at Winona State University.
Reed said RCC, a two-year school in Rochester, is the perfect fit – both athletically and academically.
“I wanted to stick with something small,” he said. “I want to go to college to further my education and get a degree in criminal justice and I felt like (RCC) would be a better fit.”
Reed said he has been in contact with the coaching staff at RCC since his junior season.
“I sent my game film to them and they were really interested. We’ve kept in touch my junior and senior years, so I decided to stick with them – they are very cool people and they have a great criminal justice program,” he said.
Reed, who was named first-team All-Scenic Bluffs Conference as a lineman on both offense and defense, said the coaching staff at RCC plans to play him at offensive tackle.
A three-sport athlete with varsity letters in football, basketball and track, Reed also is an avid weight lifter who has been working out as much as he can in the off-season to prepare for football in the fall.
“I started getting into weight lifting my sophomore year and I progressed tremendously,” he said. “I use weight lifting as a stress reliever and a hobby, but if I didn’t have my coaches and my teammates it would have been different because they pushed me.”
In fact, they pushed Reed enough that he holds school records in both the squat (615 pounds) and the dead lift (535 pounds).
With the state’s Safer At Home mandate still in place, lifting weights is tough because the high school weight room in closed.
He said the coaching staff at RCC sent him an off-season workout plan, which he is following as much as he can.
“Right now, I’m walking and sprinting and doing more endurance-type stuff because I don’t have access to a weight room,” offered Reed, adding that he’s ready to get back into the weight room. “Weight lifting is one of my favorite hobbies. It helped me a lot to get to where I’m at today.”
Bangor head coach Rick Muellenberg believes RCC is a great fit for Reed.
“It took us a while to convince Michael that he was as good as he is, but once he started to figure out just how powerful he was it was “look out’,’ said Muellenberg of the 6’-6”, 300-plus pound Reed.
“Early on, he was just too nice, but once he figured it out he took off. People in practice got out of his way – let’s put it that way,” he continued. “RCC I think is a good fit for him. Physically, there’s no question he can play at that level with his size and athleticism.”
As he prepares to play at the next level, Reed said his goals include earning a starting spot and winning championships as a team.
“I also want to meet some new people. I’m not much of a people person, but I would like to met some new friends and improve on my strength and mobility,” he offered.
“RCC had a great season last year. They only lost three games and most of their players were freshmen. I’m confident we’ll have a great season,” Reed continued. “I can’t wait. I’m really excited and the chance to play football at the college level – it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t wait to put my effort into it.”
Manke, a two-time SBC Lineman of the Year, opted for Division 2 Winona State University.
He learned about the WSU football program early in his high school career because the Cardinal football team attends a team camp the Warriors put on each year.
“We go to football camp there and I built a relationship with (WSU head coach) Tom Sawyer and the coaching staff,” said Manke.
“I really like it. It’s like family – it felt like home to me,” he added. “I’m excited about the football program we’re going to build in the future. Winona State always has been in the back of my mind – it’s just a pretty cool place.”
Manke was recruited by one other Division 2 college, but after meeting with the coaching staff from that program, he said the decision to attend WSU was an easy one.
“After that meeting, I wasn’t really feeling it. I talked to my mom and dad and we felt WSU was the best place for me,” he said.
While Manke was standout in the trenches on both sides of the football for three years at Bangor, the WSU coaching staff plans on tapping into is athletic ability and using him as a tight end on the team.
While he chose football, Manke also is a standout on the hardwood, finishing his high school basketball career as the only player in Bangor history to amass more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
He believes his basketball abilities will help him make the switch to tight end in college.
“All the ball-handling drills and rebounding drills, and definitely the footwork drills will help,” said Manke. “It’s all about footwork, so I think with what we did in Bangor it will transition well.”
Muellenberg is confident Manke can easily make the transition to tight end.
“If he does up there what he did for us, he’ll be just fine. They’re getting one heck of a football player,” offered Muellenberg.
“The drive he has to push himself – he’s as competitive as anyone I’ve coached,” he added. “It’s a good program and he’ll fit in just fine. What’s nice about Grant is how hard he worked in practice every day. He looked at it as an opportunity to get better and he expects that out of his teammates. He’s been a joy to coach.”
Like Reed, Manke is working hard in the off-season, following a strength and conditioning plan sent to him by the WSU coaching staff.
Manke is scheduled to report to for fall practice on Aug. 9, but that date remains up in the air amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d love to get there sooner, honestly. I’m ready to get down to it. I’m excited for it,” he said. “I’m very excited to try to show off the skills I have.”
Manke said it’s likely he will be a redshirt his freshman season, meaning he can practice with the team, but won’t be eligible to play in games.
“It’s a chance to get bigger and stronger ,” he continued. “Beyond that, winning championships is always in the back of my mind. I’m very excited. I’ve always wanted to take my talents to the highest level and I’m excited and happy for the opportunity.”
Manke, Reed and Bangor teammate Carter Horstman have all be selected to play in the annual Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star Game in July, but the event remains up in the air due to the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.