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Kolpack: That no-teeth, long red hair Cody Mauch trademark no longer ours

Tampa sports radio host: Fans have already embraced former North Dakota State standout

North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch poses for photographer Zach Lucy during Bison Football media day at the Fargodome on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum


Like the parents dropping their first child off at college, we the citizens of North Dakota and western Minnesota have to let him go now. He’s all grown up.

We no longer have sole ownership into Cody Mauch and the trademark look that he created. That look classmate Kendrick Lenzen accidentally created when he knocked Mauch’s teeth out during a junior high basketball game. It was a close, intense battle for the conference championship and the two knocked heads going for a loose ball.

“It’s not the most popular thing or the thing I want to be known for,” Lenzen said last week at Mauch’s NFL Draft party. “But it’s kind of cool. I like seeing how everyone is liking the look.”

We now have to share the look on a national stage after Tampa Bay selected Mauch with the 48th overall pick in the second round. Just like that. Gone, but certainly will never be forgotten.


He leaves next week for the Tampa Bay mini-camp. It appears the Buccaneer fans are buying into the look with the help of starting center Ryan Jensen, who also happens to sport red hair and missing front teeth, the latter of which was photo-shopped but what the heck, let’s play along. That’s something Mauch would have probably done if the roles were reversed.

“He’s a huge hit here,” said Nick Wize, talk show host at WDAE sports radio station in Tampa. “I think the general consensus of everybody is he kind of fits the personality of the offensive line room here in Tampa Bay. Players are really excited.”

Jensen posted a Twitter meme of two cartoon Spidermen pointing at each other not long after Mauch was drafted. The point being two superheros are better than one.

They are twinning.

“Jensen’s been texting ever since we took him,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in his post-draft press conference. “(Mauch) and I are going to mess some things up.”

Jensen and Mauch have more in common than just looks, also. The 6-foot-4, 319-pound Jensen is not Power Five-bred either, playing his college ball at Division II Colorado State-Pueblo. Moreover, Tampa tight end Ko Kieft, who once verbally committed to NDSU before switching to the University of Minnesota, bears a strong resemblance.

“If you could somehow clone Jensen and Ko Kieft together, you’d somehow get Cody Mauch,” Licht said. “No, it’s great. Who doesn’t like that? I talked about it the other day, the offensive line, the guys you have fun watching, it just so happened we were watching him for the 18th time and he’s one we have fun watching.”

The Bucs plan on moving Mauch to guard. Tom Brady isn’t there anymore — Baker Mayfield will be the quarterback — but the hope is with a revamped offensive line and a more mobile QB that Tampa will vastly improve on its last-place standing in NFL rushing last season.


“I’m not saying Baker Mayfield is better than Tom Brady but I think having his mobility helps this offensive line,” Wize said.

Jensen just finished his 10th year having spent his first four seasons with Baltimore, where he was a sixth round draft pick. Tampa signed him as a free agent in 2018 and at the time was the highest paid center in the NFL with a four-year, $42 million contract. He snapped for Brady during the Bucs’ 2021 Super Bowl championship season and has since signed a three-year, $39 million contract extension.

Mauch and Jensen are virtually guaranteed to be teammates for at least two more seasons. They have more than looks and football in common, also.

Jensen was born in Rangely, Colo. (population 2,296), which is situated in western part of the state on a county highway and looks more remote than the Mauch farm south of Mooreton.

“Jason Licht has had really good success with offensive linemen from smaller schools,” Wize said.

Hankinson, where Mauch played high school football, has a population just short of 1,000. There were almost that many in the Hankinson Community Center last Friday when Mauch got the call.

It was also a going-away party of sorts. His trademark and all. Jensen was one of the first to hop on the Mauch train, photoshopped tweet and all.

“I think that’s all about embracing the culture,” Wize said, “like the way Michael Strahan was known for his gap, I think Cody is going to be kind of known for that same thing, missing his two front teeth. It’s going to define him on who he is. He’s a hockey player on turf. I read that, and thought that was the best quote I’ve read.”


Said Mauch on his draft day: “I didn’t know it would grow into my whole personality, me missing my two front teeth. It’s funny, every single interview with teams or media, Kendrick’s name gets brought up.”

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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