'Cody is one of our own'; Hankinson prepares for its time in the national spotlight
The former North Dakota State offensive lineman could be selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
HANKINSON, N.D. — The wait is nearly over for former North Dakota State All-American offensive lineman Cody Mauch . He'll find out over the next couple of days where he'll begin his professional football career.
For his hometown of Hankinson; the buildup to this weekend's NFL Draft has been a slow and steady burn. But they're ready for primetime and the exposure that comes with it.
"We do realize this is really special. Cody is one of our own. A lot of our students are looking up to him." said Hankinson Elementary School principal Anne Biewer. Biewer's son is the same age as Mauch, so she saw him grow up right before her eyes.
Inside the halls of the school, you can't miss a sign cheering on the former Pirate. Mauch's exploits in Hankinson made national news in March at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where his "Napoleon Dynamite" routine was broadcast on the NFL Network. Add in the story of how he lost his two front teeth, it seems everyone wants to be like the guy nicknamed Tud.
"One student wrote on the poster, I love football because of you. We're just having a little bit of fun with this." Biewer said.
The football field where Mauch starred at several positions could have a statue honoring the big man. Jason Monilaws, the long-time Pirate head football coach, saw Mauch develop into an elite high school player. But he's having a hard time grasping on how his former player has turned into an early round NFL prospect.
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"I was telling the eighth graders that I teach, you have to understand this will probably never happen in Hankinson again. I don't know what the odds are, but it has to be in the hundreds of millions." Monilaws said.
Mauch has steadily see his draft stock rise since the end of the Bison season in Frisco. He excelled at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama in February and had an impressive performance at the Combine in March. That was capped off by a solid Pro Day. All that equals to a potential first round pick; or at the worst, a selection in the third round.
"I don't how many times I've been asked, 'where's Cody going to go, who's going to take him.' It's a bit surreal." Monilaws added.
Not far from the school is the most popular place in Hankinson, Hot Cakes Cafe. The daily conversation over launch during the last couple of months has centered around who and where Mauch will be heading.
"It is the buzz of the town, it's so cool someone you knew. I graduated with Cody's dad, I used to coach him when he a little guy." said the cafe's owner Greg Paulson.
"It will be crazier than usual in town the next couple of days. We're going to have people in town that haven't been here before. It's not about Hankinson; but it can be and truly be about small town North Dakota."
"Toothless and Ruthless." Cody Mauch has another nickname even before playing an NFL game. pic.twitter.com/Y9dg62hUKU— Dom Izzo (@DomIzzoWDAY) February 6, 2023
And for small town North Dakota, their time in the spotlight is nearly here. The emotion is right at the top for Monilaws.
"I'm going to most likely cry, because of I'm happy for this guy. He's going to fulfill a lifelong dream of his."