When the occasion calls for a more "scholarly" look, as Rosemount senior Jonathan Mann puts it, he slips on eyeglasses with black and gold frames.
One of the state's best wide receivers, Mann believes the specs helped his group achieve a perfect 50-point presentation score in Advanced Placement psychology class earlier this week.
Then Mann flashes his megawatt smile as he divulges the glasses are not prescription. They are purely for looks. But a young man with as much substance as Mann can be excused for desiring a little extra style.
Mann, a 6-4, 200-pound receiver with great speed, was the first player from the Class of 2020 to give a verbal commitment to Gophers coach P.J. Fleck. He chose Minnesota over Arkansas, Iowa and Iowa State.
The April 2018 announcement came after a strong sophomore season in which Mann caught 30 passes for 662 yards and seven touchdowns. Extra defensive attention, and internal pressure to be even better, followed. The result: A humbling junior season, with 24 catches for 362 yards and just one touchdown.
This fall he returned to form as the primary game-breaker for Rosemount (3-3) through six games, hauling in 18 passes for 510 yards and five scores. He enjoyed a signature four-touchdown game on Sept. 20 against Farmington.
"It's going pretty well," said Mann, who plays on Friday at Burnsville. "Every route I run, every block I make, every catch, it's about confidence for me. I'm just getting more and more confident in my abilities."
A willingness to grow has defined Mann's journey. Born to a single mother in the Twin Cities who already had four children, Mann was put up for adoption. About the same time, Steve and Kathy Mann decided to expand their family. The couple already had three children by birth and two who were adopted.
Steve recalled driving home one fall evening and telling Kathy, "You know, you're going to think I'm crazy, but we have a room one of our children isn't sharing and we have one more open seat in the van."
He looked over to see Kathy, crying. Uh-oh, he thought.
The tears were of joy. Kathy had desired another child since the spring and had been praying about how to approach her husband.
The Mann children were less subtle. That summer the three girls and two boys had watched "The Brady Bunch,'' a classic television series about a blended family with six children, and had told their parents, "We're missing one."
So Steve and Kathy adopted Jonathan, named Ansu by his Liberian mother. Steve and Kathy made Jonathan's birth name — a tribute to his mother's brother — his middle name.
Jonathan said the closed adoption has left him wondering about "the mystery of it all" but never with a feeling of bitterness.
"I never thought of it as someone didn't want me," he said. "My parents have done such a great job of raising me and teaching me how great somebody must have loved me to give me the opportunity to live."
Steve, Kathy and their birth children — David, Bethany and Kaitlyn — are white. Adopted children Josiah, Janae and Jonathan are black. But the mixed-race dynamic never caused tension. Only moments of confusion.
Josiah and Jonathan captured many blue ribbons as kids competing in Rosemount's community track program on a team their father coached. Jonathan said he remembers one uninformed parent on another team lamenting, "Why does Steve get the fast black kids on his team every year?"
Even as their youngest son grew to excel in athletics, Steve and Kathy emphasized academics. When Jonathan was in eighth grade, his parents insisted he miss football practices to study. They further drove home the point by making him apologize to teammates.
The lessons found their mark. Not only does Mann carry a 3.6 grade-point average and two advanced placement classes this fall, his humility and maturity have shone through in other circles.
"Maturity-wise, he's come along way," said Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann, who first knew Mann as a middle-school water boy for the varsity football team. "He accepted an offer after his sophomore year and we've never had that happen in our program. The Gophers are getting a young man with direction and a sense of who he wants to be in life."
Steve recalled a story from his son's college recruitment, when a football coach came to Rosemount High School to talked to Jonathan's teachers.
"The coach sat down with us and said, 'I've heard all good reports from his teachers but when I knew I wanted him is when I stopped a janitor to ask about him and the janitor said Jonathan always says hello to him,' " Steve said. "He's never been too good to care about people."