Boy, has it been a wild ride for Tanner Mangum.
The high school star returned from his LDS mission to glory and fanfare as he led the BYU football team to dramatic, last-second wins at Nebraska and at home against Boise State in 2015.
Since then, however, Mangum lost the starting job to Taysom Hill (now with the New Orleans Saints) as a sophomore in 2016 and followed that up by struggling with his performance and his health as a junior in 2017.
Just what will Mangum’s senior season in 2018 bring?
No one knows, but Mangum is on track to be healthy and ready to go for fall camp.
“I’m four months out of surgery now,” Mangum said Monday after practice. “Every week feels better. I’m working with the training staff and the strength staff as well. It’s been a test of patience but I’m happy with where I’m at. It’s fun to be back out here with the team.”
Mangum is coming back from an Achilles tendon injury and said that he is on schedule. He knew he would be limited in spring camp, but has been able to get on the field for some throwing drills and 7-on-7s.
“We had a timeline set up of everything I was going to be able to do and I’m following that to a T,” Mangum said. “Sometimes, it’s frustrating not to be able to do everything but to do something is a blessing. It’s an opportunity to go out and play, so I’m taking advantage of every rep I get and making the most of every opportunity. I’m having fun and enjoying it.”
The senior knows that the Cougar quarterback situation is up for grabs, with a new offensive coaching staff and a number of guys competing for playing time.
“Spring ball is a chance for everyone to get opportunities, especially with the new offense,” Mangum said. “Everyone needs to get the new offense down, so it is good for them — but it doesn’t mean I’m taking plays off. Every play is a mental rep where I’m going through it in my head, going through the read progression. I make the most of the reps I get. As a whole, we are supporting each other which is something I really like about this group. It’s a competition but at the same time there is camaraderie.”
He does believe that having previously transitioned from Robert Anae’s offense to Ty Detmer’s offense has given him an understanding of how to adapt.
“Having gone through an offensive transition before, I feel comfortable starting from scratch,” Mangum said. “I’ve been there, so I understand what it takes to get an offense down. It has come a little bit quicker than it did last time, and I think that is just me growing personally as a player. It takes time and effort, and we still have a lot of things to work on.”
He described the offense of Jeff Grimes as different than both the “go fast, go hard” approach of Anae and the more huddle-based, pro-style offense of Detmer.
“We can change it up,” Mangum said. “We can go really fast and do no-huddle, but then we can also huddle up and slow it down if we need to. There is some flexibility. We aren’t constricted to a set tempo, which is good. A lot of it will depend on teams we are playing, how things are going and what kinds of things we want to get done.”
He added that Grimes and the other offensive coaches are sticklers for precision.
“They are really pushing us,” Mangum said. “They are holding us accountable to detail. If we don’t get things right, we are going to do it again until we get it right. It’s a lot to handle but guys are doing a good job.”