Tanner Mangum admits it’s been a long year. But the Eagle High grad has clawed his way back into the lineup and will start the season under center for the BYU football team.
The senior re-earned the starting quarterback spot for the Cougars in fall camp after a tumultuous 2017. He led BYU to a 2-6 record while battling several injuries, then had his season cut short with a ruptured Achilles tendon at Fresno State in November.
BYU fired offensive coordinator Ty Detmer in the offseason, meaning Mangum had to learn a new system all while dropping 20 pounds during a furious rehab. But he beat all timetables to return in time for the start of fall camp and proved to the new offensive coaching staff he’s BYU’s best option under center.
BYU opens the season at Arizona at 8:45 p.m. Saturday (ESPN).
“He deserved it. He won the starting spot,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake told the Deseret News. “We wanted to create an opportunity to compete at every position. … He performed the best and won the spot.
“There was a huge sense of urgency. The fact that he knew he had to compete for the spot, you saw him change his body, but that’s not the only thing he changed. He prepared himself in a lot of different areas to be the quarterback.”
BYU also named Mangum one of its eight captains Monday.
Mangum struggled last season, completing 147 of 257 passes for 1,540 yards with eight TDs and nine interceptions. When he went down with an Achilles injury and could only participate in non-contact drills during spring practice, BYU began looking elsewhere for a quarterback.
Mangum told the Salt Lake Tribune doubt crept into his mind the past year.
The Cougars whittled a four-way race down to two early in fall camp. Mangum then beat out true freshman Zach Wilson, a former Boise State commit, to take the first snaps of the season in Arizona.
“When they told me, it just made me think a lot,” Mangum told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It just made me reflect on the journey that I have been on. It has been a wild ride, a lot of ups and downs. I was just really thankful to be able to play, to be able to have this chance to finish out my senior year on a high note.
“We have been working really hard as a team to get ourselves ready, to get ourselves in the right frame of mind, in the right physical stature to come out and have a good season.”
IDAHO KICKS OFF FCS RETURN
The Vandals mark their return to the FCS division on the road against an FBS opponent, Fresno State, at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Idaho has yet to settle its quarterback race and lists junior Mason Petrino and sophomore Colton Richardson as co-starters. Vandals coach Paul Petrino, the father of Mason, said both will play Saturday.
“It’s easy (to alternate). We’ve both got our plays, and then we’ve got a lot of the same plays to work,” Richardson told the Lewiston Tribune. “All the team wants is to win games, and if that means playing two QBs, then that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Fresno State, predicted to win the West Division of the Mountain West, has won 10 in a row against Idaho and leads the all-time series 11-4.
IDAHO STATE WELCOMES DIVISION II OPPONENT
The Bengals open their second season under head coach Rob Phenicie at 6:35 p.m. Friday against Western State, which went 1-10 last year in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and was picked 10th in the 11-team league this season.
Idaho State figures to have an explosive offense this fall with the return of wide receiver Mitch Gueller and running back James Madison, both first-team all-Big Sky picks last season. Senior quarterback Tanner Gueller also returns for his third year as a starter.
C OF I LOOKS TO BOUNCE BACK
What was supposed to be a banner season for the the College of Idaho got off to a rocky start with a 24-21 loss at Eastern Oregon last week.
The College of Idaho (0-1, 0-1) finished tied for third in a Frontier Conference preseason poll and hosts Montana Tech (0-0, 0-0), which was also tied for third, for the Yotes’ home opener at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Yotes will look to get their potent rushing on track at home. The C of I ran for 78 yards at Eastern Oregon, the fewest since the football program returned in 2014. But sophomore Nick Calzaretta broke out for 162 yards and five TDs against Montana Tech last season in a 64-35 win.
The Yotes will wear their steel-colored uniforms for the first time. Fans are encouraged to wear gray shirts to the game.