CHS is his 4th school in 4 years but this is a homecoming for him and his family.
At 6-foot-6, 195 pounds coming into his senior year, Emmanuel McCullough is used to people doing a double take when they see him for the first time. When he is with his friends he towers over them. However, McCullough, who moved to town with his dad and younger brother this year from North Carolina, isn't a stranger to this area. His mother was from Mentor and his grandparents still live there. It's been a long road back, though.
Don't let the size intimidate you, McCullough is as soft spoken as it gets. Off the field and court that is.
Emmanuel's father, Anthony McCullough, described him as "a man of few words."
On the field, where he is a tight end and outside linebacker, and on the court, where he is a physical post player, he uses his size advantage to play aggressive and with full effort.
"Emmanuel has been around all summer with us," said Pirate head boys' basketball coach Greg Garmen. "We are very excited. The kids love him from what I gather this summer. He doesn't say, 'boo.' He has been to morning basketball stuff and open gyms. The kids have really taken him in.
"He is very strong," Garmen continued. "Emmanuel has good hands from what I've noticed. He is not real polished in the post, but he does things that make you stop and say, 'wow.' You wonder if it's just luck or not. And he'd do it again and he would do it enough times to make you say, 'wow, he can do some things.'"
Pirate head football coach Scott Butt had similar praise for McCullough.
"Basically, Emmanuel is a kid that is obviously big and athletic and really has an ability to run," he said. "He is very instinctive when knowing where the ball is going to be. He knows how to use his body really well and he plays football like it's basketball at times. He boxes out and goes for the ball. He didn't play football last year but he is willing to play and willing to work hard. He is really a nice young man, very polite and very cordial and wants to learn the game. He is a student of the game, asking questions, which is a great thing.
McCullough moved to town from Taylorsville, N.C. where he attended Alexander Central, playing basketball and baseball.
Crookston High School will be McCullough's fourth school in four years, but he said moving isn't so difficult when you're involved in sports.
"I just adjust to wherever," he said. "With basketball it's pretty easy."
Before Taylorsville, McCullough spent his freshman year in Canton, Ohio and his sophomore year in Akron, Ohio.
But for Emmanuel, his younger brother, Mckenzie, who is a freshman this year at CHS, and his father, Anthony, it's a homecoming to the area for them.
Anthony McCullough played football at Northland Community Technical College in Thief River Falls and at University of North Dakota. He married Roxanne Holcomb of Mentor, the daughter of Roger and Nancy Holcomb.
Tragically, Roxanne died of breast cancer in 2007 in Grand Forks at the age of 39.
But for Emmanuel, much like he does with moving, he copes with the loss of his mom through athletics.
McCullough does play football and baseball too but his main focus is hoops.
Earlier this summer he and six others from the Pirate boys' basketball won the Cass Lake-Bena Tournament, going 12-0, including wins over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, Upsala and Browerville, who all competed in the state tournament last season.
"I'm fitting in well in Crookston," McCullough said, noting some of his best friends are Seth Desrosier, Ryan Porter, Joey Koenig and Austin Sommerfeld.
"Everybody pretty much gets along," McCullough, who is a center, said of his new teammates. "Coach Garmen is a good coach. The expectations are really for a high winning season and to even go to state. We have lots of talent and good shooters."
As for football, even with the mass of blue and gold jerseys, McCullough can be easily picked out because of his height advantage over most everyone on the Pirate roster.
"Practice has been pretty good," he said. "Coach Butt is a really good coach and he is easy to learn."
Coach Butt, McCullough and the Pirates are 1-0 this season and will travel to Detroit Lakes Friday to face the Lakers.
Other than football, basketball and some baseball, McCullough's dad joked that all he does is eat.
"As a tight end and defensive end, we are looking at getting him out in space and rushing the quarterback," coach Butt said of McCullough. "It is much harder to get the ball over him, with his long arms he can get separation and reach out and grab you. As a tight end he's raw but has very good hands. Emmanuel leads by example and wants to win. We have 60 kids out there that want to win. He fits in with this group really well. He is identical with all the kids, he's just bigger than all of them."
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