MALIBU, Calif. — The Elite 11 camp is a prime opportunity for the nation’s best quarterbacks to make names for themselves. For BYU commit Tanner Mangum, it means much more than that.
Mangum is somewhat of an anomaly compared with the other 23 participants this week. He’s committed to a non-BCS school, he’ll be leaving for a mission straight out of high school, and he comes from a state not known for producing great QB talent.
All of this serves as great motivation that has served him well throughout the week.
As the week draws to a close, Mangum is on the cusp of earning camp MVP honors. If he's named MVP, he’ll do well in making a name for the school he’s set to sign with.
“Jake Heaps obviously won the award two years ago, and it would be awesome for two BYU commits to get the same award, it would be great for the program for sure,” he said. “Even if I don’t win it, I feel I’ve done great in representing BYU well and showing people that great quarterbacks can go to BYU. Jake Heaps did it, and now I’m trying to do the same.”
His efforts have paid off so far. He won the Golden Gun Award during the first two days of competition, and he's currently vying strongly for the MVP award as the camp gets set to conclude on Friday.
He finished Wednesday’s workouts ranked as the No. 2 QB overall, and after a dominating 7-on-7 session Thursday, he could find himself in the driver’s seat for the last day.
It’s well-known to all in attendance that one of the top contenders for the MVP honors will be attending BYU. Mangum has made no secret of this fact and wears it proudly.
“People sometimes have a hard time understanding why I’d go to BYU when I could go to a school in a big conference, a school that’s more well-known,” he said. “I just try to explain to people that it’s not all about going to a big-name school and playing in a big conference, it’s about more than that. It’s about the other stuff BYU has to offer besides football.”
But it’s not as if BYU football is hurting or is even that much far removed from the other big programs.
“What Jake Heaps started in performing well at the Elite 11, and then going on to start and play well, that’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “Maybe people will then start realizing that BYU is a place where top athletes can go and do really well.”
It will be awhile until Mangum is able to legitimately compete for a starting spot at BYU. Upon his high school graduation in 2012, he’ll leave immediately for an LDS mission.
The list of quarterbacks who have served full two-year missions and have seen any type of football success is a short one. Mangum, however aims to make the list longer.
“When people say I won’t be able to compete after my mission, I kind of use that as fuel,” he said. “I use that as a chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong.”
Mangum confidently says that he’ll be just fine after his mission.
Confidence is certainly not something that the Eagle, Idaho, prospect lacks. On the field, he’s shown great leadership that has been noted by those who run the camp.
“He’s the type of guy that is going to grab a guy by the facemask late in the fourth quarter and motivate guys to get it done, and for me, I like a quarterback like that. It’s good stuff,” said ESPN’s Greg Biggins. “You want a quarterback that leads, that is vocal and that can get after guys, and that is what Tanner Mangum has. He has that as much as any quarterback here this week, that’s for sure.”
The list is short as well for quarterbacks hailing from the state of Idaho who have gone on to have success at the collegiate level. Since the Elite 11 started in 1999, only one other quarterback from Idaho has made it as a camp top 11 finalist, Cody Hawkins.
“People don’t think that great football players come from Idaho, and I want to help change that,” Mangum said. “This week has been a great opportunity for me to show well and to represent well for Idaho and for BYU.”