Mangum listed as Heisman candidate after late-game heroics

Ari Davis
Tanner Mangum is rushed by a mob of BYU fans after the Cougars beat Boise State 35-24 on Sept. 12, 2015 (Ari Davis)

Three months ago freshman Tanner Mangum was knocking doors as a missionary in Chile. Now he’s known nationally as BYU’s Heisman–contending quarterback.

Mangum completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mitchell Juergens on 4th and 7 to take the lead in the final minute against Boise State last Saturday, a play reminiscent of his game winning Hail Mary to receiver Mitch Mathews a week earlier. He finished the game against the Broncos with 309 yards and two touchdowns, getting the job done despite throwing two interceptions and dealing with first-start jitters.

“For his first start to beat a team like that in a home crowd after a Hail Mary a week ago, I don’t know where you go from there. I’m really proud of him,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a press release.

Mangum’s star-studded performances against Nebraska and Boise State have thrust him into the spotlight, snagging the attention of the sports world with his heroics and magical plays. Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports currently has Mangum at No.1 on his Heisman Top 5, stating that the Cougar quarterback has already “delivered two ‘Heisman moments.'”

“All ‘Hail’ Tanner Mangum” is listed next to BYU’s No. 18 ranking in ESPN’s Week 3 College Football Power Rankings. ESPN analyst Ray Bentley said that Mangum has a “howitzer” for an arm.

Despite the hype, Mangum feels he was prepared for everything that has happened so far. After beating Nebraska, Mangum told reporters he had been preparing all summer for the moment that would require him to step up. Mendenhall, on the other hand, felt they weren’t so prepared.

“We really didn’t talk to him much about it. Our entire focus was just being so excited that Taysom was back,” Mendenhall said.

Fans expected to see senior Taysom Hill play all season. They hoped that he could lead the Cougars to a nine win season. They even had hopes that he could win the Heisman Trophy. But with Hill done for the season, Mangum has been pushed into a leading role no one expected him to take on. In the Boise State post game interview on ESPN, Mendenhall said he has already experienced a year’s worth of emotions.

Mangum’s Heisman Trophy chances may be equated to something of a “Hail Mary” by some. But then again, that’s never stopped him before.

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