BYU quarterback’s dream put on hold for LDS mission

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Tanner Mangum stood on the manicured grass inside LaVell Edwards Stadium looking up at the empty blue and white seats. He dreamed of playing here before cheering crowds all through his high school years, where he earned national honors and became BYU’s number-one recruited quarterback.

But Mangum’s dream will have to wait. Instead of suiting up in his football pads, Mangum will wear a suit and tie for the next two years as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Success is nothing new to Mangum, a freshman from Eagle, Idaho. He wowed recruits all around the nation during high school with his talent and dedication. Senior year, he threw nearly 4,000 yards. He also participated in the Nike Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, where he earned MVP Honors, and the Under Armour All-America game, where he was given a special MVP award for switching teams at half time.

Three of the team's young quarterbacks. left Tanner Mangum, center Taysom Hill, and right Christian Stewart, leave the field on Wednesday during spring training.
Three of the team’s young quarterbacks. Tanner Mangum (left), Taysom Hill (center) Christian Stewart (right), leave the field on Wednesday during spring training. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

With such a bright future ahead, many are excited to see what Mangum will bring to the Cougar Nation. At the spring scrimmage, Mangum completed all six of his passes and rushed for 56 yards.

Serving a mission has been something Mangum has planned on since he was a child. His freshman year at BYU has only made that desire stronger.

“I’m surrounded by good examples and good guys,” Mangum said. “There’s no better place to develop spiritually.”

Members of his team are not surprised by Mangum’s decision to put football on hold for the next two years.

“Tanner is a great guy all around,” said Theodore King, BYU defensive lineman. “He makes everyone around him smile, and he’s a natural leader.”

Mangum’s mission papers will be submitted in the near future, and he is planning to leave this coming summer. When he returns in 2015, he will likely redshirt while other quarterbacks like Taysom Hill and Ammon Olson finish out their senior year. After that, it’s an open game.

His journey to the top has not been easy. However, Mangum doesn’t let any of his struggles get to his head. He continues to work hard and push himself to get better. Last season as a grayshirt, he was found in the gym working out with the players, even though he knew he wouldn’t be playing.

“I know that if I take a day off, then someone else is getting better,” Mangum said.

Mangum is now on the roster and doing full workouts with the team. He is making sure that, as a leader, he is bringing the team together.

“When one person succeeds, we all succeed. When one person fails, we all fail. We’re all there for each other to help each other up when we’re down, and we’ve got each other’s backs,” he said.

Mangum’s hard work toward the team hasn’t gone unnoticed. Michael Yeck, an offensive lineman, said, “He’s a really good guy, and he’s really committed to the team. He wants to make us better as a whole.”

Along with football, Mangum is taking classes for his major in business management and holding church callings. While many would struggle balancing such a hectic life, Mangum does it without complaints.

“Whatever you’re working on, you need to put 100 percent commitment into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s football or schooling. It’s just a matter of making sure you’re putting your best effort forward for whatever you’re working on,” Mangum said.

Mangum hopes that upon his return he will be better and stronger.

“I’ll just compete and try to win the starting job and do my best to lead the team and represent the best I can and hopefully lead us to some wins,” Mangum said. “Mission first, football second. I couldn’t be more excited for the future.”

So don’t bring out your ‘Team Mangum’ signs yet, but make sure to remember the name. After his missionary service, Tanner Mangum will be full force on the football field.

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