Tanner Mangum just got his first taste of college football - and now he's happy to leave it behind for two years.
Mangum, one of the nation's top-ranked quarterbacks in last year's signing class, performed well this spring with the BYU football team, but won't be suiting up when the Cougars host Boise State on Oct. 25.
The Eagle High graduate found out last week that he's headed to Antofagosta, Chile, on July 31 to serve his two-year LDS mission.
"Spring ball went really well - it didn't really affect my choice to go on a mission,'' Mangum said. "It actually gave me more confidence, knowing that when I get back I know what to expect, and the coaches know what they'll get.''
Ranked as the nation's No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class, Mangum grayshirted at BYU, paying his own way in the fall before joining the team this past spring. In two scrimmages, he completed 21-of-28 passes for 204 yards with an interception and ran for a touchdown.
Mangum, who expects to return to BYU in time for the 2015 season, said coaches hope he can compete for playing time immediately after his mission - though he may be playing more futbol than football in Chile.
"We'll get to exercise each morning, and once a week we'll get some time to throw the football around, though it may be a good amount of soccer,'' Mangum said. "The coaches have a workout plan I'll take down there, but they know it's mission first, football second.''
Before he departs, Mangum will be in Idaho this summer to watch his younger sister, Abby, play volleyball and basketball, similar to how his two older brothers took in their siblings' games before leaving on missions.
Mangum initially had obtained his mission call about a year ago, but decided to get a year of school and his first college practices under his belt. His destination may have changed this summer, but when he got the final word, it was a sense of relief and excitement.
"It's good to know where I'm going, it could've been Chile or North Dakota, and I would have looked forward to it - I've balanced football with a lot of things for a long time, so it'll be interesting to pause that a little bit,'' Mangum said.
Being away from the game for two years may be a concern, as the list of quarterbacks returning from two-year missions to find great success at BYU is not long. One of the passers on the list, Brandon Doman, told the Deseret News last summer, "it's going to be hard for (Mangum) to be away from football for that long.''
However, Mangum isn't worried, and can look at the example of Highland High graduate Taysom Hill, who led the Cougars to their only touchdown in last season's loss at Boise State as a true freshman, was second on the team in rushing despite playing only six games, and is currently listed as the team's starting quarterback.
Hill, who originally committed to Stanford out of high school, enrolled at BYU after a mission in Australia and has worked his way up the depth chart.
"I've wanted to do this for a long time, so I don't really think about that,'' Mangum said. "I'll go, have a great two years and then hopefully have some good years on the field.''
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn