Tanner Mangum said his BYU football career can be summed up in one word: “unexpected.”
“I’d say my career has had it’s fair share of ups and downs,” Mangum said. “Unexpected — If I could use a word — a little bit unexpected.”
By comparison, Mangum’s senior year in high school was anything but unexpected when he set numerous passing records. He graduated as Idaho’s top-ranked quarterback and third best in the nation by Rivals.com.
After graduation, Mangum was invited to Nike’s Elite 11 quarterback camp. He was named the camp’s co-MVP with Jameis Winston — the former star at Florida State and current starting quarterback for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mangum also earned MVP honors at the Under Armour All-America Game.
Following high school, Mangum served an LDS mission to Antofagasta, Chile. Upon his return in June 2015, he wasted little time getting to Provo and back on the football field.
Mangum’s 2015 season
Taysom Hill began the 2015 season as BYU’s starting quarterback. Mangum, who was a freshman, was his backup.
However, Mangum’s name was called much sooner than anyone expected.
During the first game of the season at Nebraska, Hill suffered a season-ending injury, leaving Mangum to fill in — just three months after his mission.
The Cougars beat Nebraska 33-28 with Mangum’s 42-yard Hail Mary pass to Mitch Mathews with no time remaining, kickstarting his BYU career.
Mangum delivered his second Hail Mary pass in game two against Boise State. Down 24-21 with just 45 seconds left in the game, he threw the winning touchdown pass to Mitchell Juergens, providing the Cougars with another exciting victory.
The Cougars continued their end-game heroics with the East Carolina game on Oct. 10, when the Cougars won 45-38 with just seconds remaining. Mangum was 24 of 33 for 332 yards.
Mangum received his first BYU football-related injury in the third quarter, but returned to replace backup quarterback Beau Hoge for the final game-winning drive.
Freshman records and awards
Following his performance against East Carolina, Mangum was recognized as the Star of the Week by the Manning Award, and was listed on the College Football Performance Awards mid-season watch list.
Mangum went on to set the school record for freshman passing yards in a single game when he threw for 364 yards in a win against Connecticut on Oct. 2, 2015. After the win, Mangum was named College Sports Madness Independent Offensive Player of the Week.
Following BYU’s win against Utah State in the regular season finale on Nov. 28, Mangum became the first BYU freshman quarterback to throw more than 3,000 yards in a single season and had the most completions by a freshman quarterback with 242.
Touchdown Club of Columbus named Mangum the 2015 Freshman of the Year.
Despite Mangum’s record-setting freshman season, Hill was once again named the starting quarterback for the 2016 season.
Mangum earned some playing time during the Nov. 12 game against Southern Utah University after the Cougars had a big lead.
After the win, Mangum said, “We’re in it together and we’re not going to worry about playing time or who goes in when. We’re going to go out there, have fun and celebrate together as a team.”
On Senior Day — the final game of the regular season — Hill went down in the fourth quarter with a serious elbow injury while playing against Utah State in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Mangum replaced Hill once again and then led the Cougars to a 24-21 win against Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl — BYU’s first bowl victory since 2012.
Mangum headed into his junior season as the starter. It would be his second year under offensive coordinator Ty Detmer.
He also started the year with a major announcement following spring camp.
On April 3, Mangum posted on social media that he struggled with “mild depression and anxiety.” He said he decided to speak out to create awareness and “erase the stigma surrounding mental health.”
“I’m grateful to be able to raise my voice, and stand up for those who experience similar struggles,” Mangum said. “Just because someone is beaming brightly on the outside, doesn’t mean they are free from their own personal struggles underneath the surface. We are all human, each with unique battles, and I promise that these battles are better fought together, not alone.”
Prior to the start of 2017, Mangum was named to the Maxwell Award watch list, given to college football’s Player of the Year, as well as the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award watch.
On Aug. 4, Mangum was voted one of the team’s captains along with Tejan Koroma, Butch Pau’u and Fred Warner.
The Cougars began the season with a home-opening 20-6 victory against Portland State, where Mangum finished with 194 passing yards. After the win, BYU would go on a 7-game losing streak.
During the Sep. 9 game against Utah, Mangum appeared to limp off the field after failing to convert on fourth down during BYU’s final possession.
Mangum sat out for the games against Wisconsin and Utah State. Beau Hoge filled in for Mangum during the Wisconsin game, but left the Utah State game after sustaining a concussion during the second quarter.
Mangum returned to the field on Oct. 6 at home against Boise State.
On Nov. 4, Mangum’s junior season ended against Fresno State when he injured his Achilles tendon which required surgery. That marked the sixth time in eight years and fourth year in a row that BYU’s season-opening starter suffered a season-ending injury.
On Senior Day, Nov. 18, BYU lost to UMass, 16-10, handing the team its first losing record at home since 2003 and the first nine-loss season since 1955.
Mangum ended his junior season with just over 1,500 passing yards, but threw nine interceptions to his eight touchdowns.
With spring camp now underway, Mangum’s career is once again unpredictable. He’s still healing from the Achilles injury, but is back throwing the football. He won’t take part in full scrimmages but is taking reps in 7-on-7 drills. Despite not fully participating, Mangum said he is happy with his progress.
“Being a competitor you want to come back as soon as possible, but also you have to be patient and be obedient to what the doctor wants you to do,” Mangum said. “Right now we are on schedule, just taking it day by day, week by week.”
On plays where Mangum isn’t in the action, seven other quarterbacks are competing for his job: Hoge, a junior, sophomores Joe Critchlow and Hayden Griffitts, as well as freshmen Kody Wilstead, Zach Wilson, Baylor Romney and Stacy Conner. Freshman Kody Wilstead requested a release on Monday, March 12 and will transfer.
“As a unit, we are all supporting each other. It’s something that I really like about this group is that we are helping each other out, coaching each other up, teaching each other,” Mangum said. “It’s a competition, but at the same time there’s a lot of camaraderie.”
Mangum said there’s a lot of high energy and love out on the field when it comes to the new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and new quarterback coach Aaron Roderick.
“It’s always fun being able to learn from other coaches and we’re just soaking up everything we can right now,” Mangum said.
Mangum is the team’s only senior quarterback and the one with the most experience. He said he will be 100 percent by fall camp, but until he is healthy Mangum’s level of participation is in the hands of coaches Grimes and Roderick.
“I think it’s taught me a lot about how to deal with adversity and how to maintain enthusiasm and maintain a passion for what you’re doing despite the struggles,” Mangum said.
Listen to Mangum’s entire interview on March 12, 2018 here:
Timeline by Camille Baker
Watch clips from the interview here:
Video by Camille Baker and Josh Ellis
Mangum posted this on his Instagram account recently, showing his improvements since surgery nearly four months ago.