I have to say I admire Tanner Mangum and his relationship with fiancée Alexa Gray.
I’m Tanner’s roommate, so I have more than a passing interest here — no quarterback pun intended.
Following the Nebraska Hail-Mary game, I assumed there would be a revolving door of girls in and out of our apartment.
What actually happened says a lot about Tanner, Alexa and their relationship.
Tanner dated a bit, but I remember when he came with me and family to the BYU vs. Utah volleyball game in Salt Lake early in the fall. Our family mostly went to support our cousin Jessie Jorgenson, who plays volleyball for the Utes.
Tanner mentioned he had been texting Alexa. He told her he would be there, and after the match he and Alexa talked. Alexa captured Tanner’s attention fully from the beginning. Before long they were dating exclusively, and spending a lot of time together.
Alexa announced their engagement on Instagram on Feb. 26.
Tanner’s older brother Madison moved to Provo this January to train for the NFL draft. He’s had an opportunity to be with Tanner and Alexa more than a lot of people.
“Tanner is just in love with her. Tanner is naturally an extrovert, and very comfortable talking in front of a lot (of people),” Madison said. “Alexa is very quiet. I think it’s a perfect balance and it’s why they’re attracted to each other.”
I’ve noticed that they are both very supportive of each other. Tanner always seemed to be going to banquets, volleyball games and other events with Alexa. Whenever he had something going on, she’d be there too. They are a great match and I’m happy for them. Congrats to an awesome couple.
The most recent news about Tanner to go viral on campus, and through Cougar nation, is just a long line of public events for a “regular guy” around the apartment.
I mean, when “Family Feud” is a favorite TV show — popular generally in our apartment — you’re dealing with a regular guy.
Tanner has been a fan of “the feud” for a while.
“When I was about 10 we got cable and started watching a lot of the game show network,” Tanner said. “‘Family Feud’ was always one of my favorites.”
Here in our Provo apartment, we’ve come to see a lot of episodes of the popular show hosted by Steve Harvey. Most of the time we feel like we could do better than most at the Fast Money section of the popular TV game show.
I asked Tanner: If his family were to come on “Family Feud,” who would he take for fast money?
“Madison (Tanner’s older brother and roommate) because he’s really smart and quick. And honestly, me because I’m a competitor and I do well in pressure situations,” Tanner said.
Madison said he would pick Tanner too, but mostly just because they watch “Family Feud” more than the rest of their family.
As BYU football fans have come to find out, Tanner really is great in pressure situations. The returned-missionary freshman set records, threw several Hail Mary touchdown passes and led a successful campaign in Bronco Mendenhall’s final season at BYU.
Tanner credits a lot of success to his family. The Mangum clan is a tight bunch. Tanner and Madison often leave on the weekends to attend family events. They influence each other’s success.
Tanner credits his oldest brother Parker as having the largest influence on him. “I’ve always viewed him as a role model,” Tanner said. “When I was just starting football, Parker was the starting quarterback at our high school.”
Parker was able to help mentor Tanner to become the diligent competitor that he is.
“(Parker was) always there to offer advice and support,” Tanner said. “He’s my biggest fan.”
Madison also weighed in on the dynamics.
“Tanner idolizes Parker. We just really looked up to him. Tanner really looked up to him because Tanner wanted to be a quarterback and that’s what Parker was,” Madison said. “He wasn’t a stereotypical mean older brother. He would take Tanner and I out and throw all the time. Parker took Tanner under his wing and showed him how to be a quarterback.”
Parker may be Tanner’s biggest fan, but he’s not the only one. Cougar fans have been impressed by Tanner’s maturity and so have others. The Touchdown Club of Columbus awarded Tanner the Freshman of the Year Award on Feb. 6.
Tanner said receiving the award was an honor, but not anything he imagined at the beginning of the season. Tanner described the season as a whirlwind, but felt confident from the start.
“He really has always been confident,” Madison said of Tanner. “He’s a social butterfly, comfortable initiating conversations and confident in his own abilities.”
I asked Tanner when he first thought that he could succeed at the college level. He said that he was always confident, but one incident in particular helped boost his confidence.
“Freshman year right before my mission I was able to play a lot due to injury and I started in the spring game and I did well,” Tanner said. “Even though it’s a whole level I can still do well. I can play at this high level.”
Tanner is as anxious as anyone to get to this year’s spring workouts. Especially with the new coaching staff.
“We’re all excited for spring ball,” Tanner said. “Implementing the new offense and new scheme, just looking at the schedule and venues — it’s got everyone excited.”
Tanner has high praise for Head Coach Kalani Sitake who loves relating to the players and joking with them, according to Tanner. At the same time, Sitake demands a lot of his athletes.
Of course, many fans are curious to see whether Tanner will be the starting quarterback next year. After being only one of 13 BYU quarterbacks to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season, his starting position still isn’t secured.
Cougar fans were excited to hear Taysom Hill plans to return to BYU for a final season, and the twitterverse quickly piled on with speculation about how Tanner felt about that.
Tanner says he’s excited to have a player of Taysom’s caliber coming back. Tanner recognizes that they are competitors, which makes each other better. Tanner’s respect for Taysom is easily recognized by anyone who talks to him about it.
“Tanner’s handling it very well. He has the attitude of whatever happens happens,” brother Madison said. “Tanner respects Taysom can do whatever he wants to do. At the same time, he’s not scared of competition. Tanner’s not scared, he’s confident in his own abilities.”
As competitors, Tanner and Taysom hope to push each other to fulfill their full potential. When it comes to the starting job in the fall, Tanner doesn’t think about it too much.
“I can’t control what he does or what the coaches do,” Tanner said. “Do my best to lead the offense, let it take its course.”
Go get ’em, roomie.