The Best and Worst of Tanner Mangum

By now you’ve heard than Tanner Mangum was announced the starting quarterback for BYU. This probably brought mixed emotions. He’s a senior so he brings plenty of memories, both good, bad and in between. The same people who were clamoring for Tanner to replace Taysom Hill are probably clamoring for Zach Wilson to replace Tanner. Nevertheless it’s time to relive the story of Tanner Mangum from Idaho, to Chile and to Provo.

The Best:

High School: Elite 11 co-MVP

It is comical to think that after being a co-MVP at this prestigious camp alongside Jameis Winston, Tanner got his first snap in college about the time Jameis Winston was getting his first snap as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer in the NFL. Really it’s not uncommon at all in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Kids go on missions and don’t start college until 21 and usually finish around 25. It’s easy to feel two years behind but in high school in Eagle Idaho, this had to be one of Tanner’s biggest accomplishments in football.

The Best Two Years in Chile

Tanner went to the great land of Chile and served in the warmer northern part of the country called Antofagasta. He calls his mission a life changing experience and explains how it has shaped his testimony of his faith in an article on Mormon.org. As the fourth oldest of five siblings he has certainly had a lot of people to set a good example for him and it showed as he served an honorable two year full time mission on the other end of the world.

Hail Mary Mangum!

After high school and two years of eating Chilean food and not working out as much, many people probably speculated that Tanner’s hype couldn’t ever surpass what he achieved at Elite 11 camp in high school.

He did.

In two straight miracle games in 2015 after Taysom went down after a couple quarters in the opener, true freshman Tanner came into the starting lineup and played well en route to an amazing 44 yard Hail Mary to upset Nebraska who had previously not lost a home opener since 1985. It was the nation’s longest active home opener winning streak at 29 straight wins in Lincoln.

In Nebraska people do two things: husk corn and watch NU football. The fact that a FRESHMAN beat them on the road is astounding. He made a guy like Bronco Mendenhall rush the field in celebration and that is even more unfathomable. That is so un-Bronco like.

The magic continued as Tanner threw what would be the game winning touchdown against Boise State in front of his fans from both Provo and his home state of Idaho. Both these plays were on ESPN, James the Mormon released a highlight music video of the miracle plays and all was right with the world. The Cougars were on their way to the College Football Playoff. And then….

The Worst

Ok, Tanner didn’t play that bad for the rest of THAT season and we will read in between the lines later. Now it’s time to talk about…..

The Zips

No we aren’t talking about the Akron mascot. Tanner has lost two double digits games in which he has failed to score a point. Consider these numbers:

2015: Lost 31-0 to Michigan: Yes it was the Big House but the moment seemed too big for Tanner. Sure Nebraska wasn’t too big but now the hype was on. Tanner was an elite quarterback but new rockstar Coach Jim Harbaugh had an even more elite defense. The fact that the Utes beat Michigan in Harbaugh’s debut in Salt Lake City highlighted an even greater talent gap between the rivals.

2017: Lost 27-0 to LSU in The Superdome: The BYU offense didn’t even cross the 50 yard line! This was when Tanner’s junior season really started to head south. The defense was giving full effort but against LSU’s killer defense BYU had the life sucked out of them.

In Between the Lines:

Dealing with Depression: It is hard being a star college quarterback. Aside from the fame, the criticism, and the physicality of football Tanner also had to deal with the difficulties of school that every BYU student has: dating, studying for hard Book of Mormon exams, and maybe even a difficult roommate who eats his breakfast food. Tanner was a part of a recent movement of athletes coming out about their mental illnesses.

Former USU basketball player Jalen Moore wrote on the NBA Players Tribune about his anxiety with flying on airplanes. NBA Star Kevin Love wrote about his experience with panic attacks in the NBA and really encouraged people to share their stories.

And now the BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum came out in his junior season and revealed that he deals with depression. This is something not commonly seen in team leaders but nevertheless was respected by the BYU fan base. Tanner showed that like many other people in this world, he is human and is vulnerable to the difficulties of life.

Tanner and Taysom have a lot in common. Both their names start with TA so it’s easy to confuse the two. Both were star quarterbacks from Idaho. It’s gotta be the meat and potatoes that made them such big studs. And both have been storied quarterbacks for BYU. Maybe not Detmer, McMahon or Young status but storied nonetheless.

Both are also incredibly different. Taysom was more killer. He kind of reminds one of a football version of Kobe. Pre injury he could run on ANYBODY! Texas, Oklahoma, no problem. His kryptonite was the Aggies as he got injured in pursuit of the Old Wagon Wheel twice. Despite many injuries he was still a stud after coming back for his fifth season. He received a lot of criticism after losing single digit games to Boise State and a couple good Power 5 teams. The truth though is that Taysom’s 80 percent is better than most people’s 100 percent. He was great.

Tanner on the other hand is a little more volatile in his performance as there seem to be more levels to him. His mentality is more LeBron. When he’s on he’s on. When he’s off he’s off. When he has good receivers like Mitch Mathews there’s nobody better at throwing a Hail Mary. When he’s off and down several touchdowns you normally don’t see him pull off any miraculous comebacks.

Time will tell how good Tanner will be his senior season. The truth is with this schedule it won’t be perfect. There will be a lot of good against UMass and Hawaii, a LOT of bad against Wisconsin and Washington, and a lot of in between against Northern Illinois and Utah State.

He’s 0-2 against the Utes and 2-0 against the Aggies. He’s a quarterback nobody wants to face when he’s on but the only way he can create a lasting legacy and not just an “interesting” one at BYU is to beat the Utes in his final season as a Cougar. The Utes will have nothing to play for except bragging rights. The Cougars have everything to play for. Tanner’s career started with a Hail Mary game winner. It’s only fitting that it ends with one. Beck to Harline. Look out. Here comes Tanner in his final season.

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