This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Provo • Bronco Mendenhall wanted to see a little nervousness from Tanner Mangum on Saturday in the second quarter, when the BYU coach was preparing to send the freshman quarterback into the game to replace injured star Taysom Hill.
"He acted like it was no big deal," Mendenhall said. "I certainly thought it was a big deal."
It is certainly significant now, because Mangum is BYU's new starting quarterback, tasked with carrying the team's dreams now that Hill is likely finished for the season with a foot injury.
By sheer coincidence, and not a Hollywood script although the whole turn of events could be interpreted that way after Mangum threw the Hail Mary pass that beat Nebraska he will make his first college start against his hometown team.
The Cougars tangle with the Boise State Broncos at 8:15 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Mangum is from Eagle, Idaho, which is about 10 miles from Boise, and says he was a huge fan of both programs growing up. When it came to picking a school, BYU and BSU were his two finalists.
"It is pretty special," he said. "Obviously, where I am from everybody is a huge Boise State fan, so I know I will have a lot of people rooting against me. But that is fine. I have to remind myself that it doesn't matter who we are playing. We have to respect our opponent no matter who they are."
Mendenhall said he still remembers the recruitment of Mangum well, although it was more than four years ago that the prep star who turned 22 on Tuesday committed to BYU. Mangum signed in February of 2012, paid his own way called greyshirting so his NCAA eligibility clock would not start his first year in Provo, participated in the 2013 spring game, and then left for Antofagasta, Chile.
"While he had so much other attention, it was just clear that this is where he was going to choose, that this was what he wanted, and it didn't really matter who else wanted him, he was a BYU player and they were a BYU family," Mendenhall said.
Mangum committed to BYU in the spring of 2011, but the Cougars really found out they had something special a few months later when Mangum shared MVP honors at the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in Malibu, Calif., with future Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and Neal Burcham, now an injury-plagued junior at SMU.
"Tanner, we recruited him," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said Monday. "He's bigger, he's stronger, he looks better and he was able to find a way to win. Now he is preparing as a starter. His world has changed in the last four or five months, quite a bit."
Prior to Saturday, Mangum last played in a real football game on Jan. 1, 2012, the Under Armour All-Star game. He said he threw the football once every two months or so in Chile, occasionally getting together with BYU receiver Moroni Lualu-Pututau, who was in the same mission.
Mangum returned from Chile on June 3, spent about a week at home, and then made his way to Provo and started preparing to be Hill's primary backup.
"I came home knowing that I was only going to have a few months to get ready for the season. And as a backup you have to prepare like you are going to be the guy. Because if you don't, when the time comes you are going to be surprised and you won't be ready," he said. "All summer long I have been preparing myself mentally. Every rep I get, I am trying to visualize that it is in the game, so when the time comes and I am called upon, I can step in and do my job."
Coaches started raving about Mangum's grasp of the offense early in preseason camp, and Mendenhall said midway through camp that he would be a lot more worried about the depth behind Hill if Mangum wasn't so capable.
Still, he received fewer reps in camp than Hill, and Robert Anae designed the offense to take advantage of Hill's ability to both run and throw the ball. Mangum is more of a pocket passer, although he showed decent mobility against Nebraska in rushing for 26 yards on five carries.
"To Tanner's credit, he has had to get caught up really fast, and it hasn't been enough time to get completely caught up." Mendenhall said. "But Taysom has helped him immensely and Tanner's desire to study from the minute he got back has really helped him. Plus, his poise, his maturity, his individual makeup, that gave him the chance to go out there on his first college game, after a mission, and look like he belonged."
Now, the BYU offense belongs to him. And he's not even nervous about it.
About Tanner Mangum
• Freshman returned missionary (Chile) turned 22 on Tuesday, is from Eagle, Idaho
• Co-MVP of the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in 2011 with Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston
• Rated as the No. 15 QB in the 2012 signing class by Scout.com, No. 1 prospect in Idaho
• Completed 268 of 393 passes for 3,885 yards and 35 touchdowns his senior year at Eagle High near Boise
Boise State at BYU
Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
TV • ESPN2