PROVO — The Heisman Trophy is the most-coveted award for any college football player, and it usually requires a combination of a quality fan base to back the campaign, the talent of the athlete and apparently, a little bit of luck.
While Taysom Hill took up much of the Heisman talk in the BYU locker room for much of the offseason, it’s his backup that has been garnering national attention in regards to the sought-after award as of late. Just a week after having a prayer answered with zeros on the clock to win at Nebraska, Cougar quarterback Tanner Mangum in his first-ever career start followed that up with another do-or-die pass, this time a 35-yard winner at home against then-No. 20 Boise State, for the win.
Some have called it luck, some have called it “Mangum Magic,” but does it really matter? There is so much talent in college football that it really all comes down to those big plays, or “Heisman moments,” that these competitors make. Mangum has produced two of those in as many games this season, and according to Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports, that’s enough for him to top his early-season Heisman rankings.
“Mangum has remarkably delivered two ‘Heisman moments’ already, stunning Nebraska on a Hail Mary in Week 1, then dashing Boise State's hopes with a last-minute 35-yard heave on fourth and 7. Unbelievable,” Mandel said of Mangum.
It may be a little farfetched to think that Mangum tops the list of Heisman candidates this early into the 2015 campaign, but what’s even crazier are the names he towers over.
Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette, Braxton Miller.
Those are the names that round out Mandel’s top five, all of which are likely to have careers in the NFL. Can Mangum have a fruitful career under center at the next level? That is yet to be seen, but if the Cougar QB can continue to make plays like he has the last two weekends, his name will soon pop up on other Heisman candidate lists across the country.
And Mandel wasn’t the only one excited about the late-game heroics that Mangum and BYU have been bringing to the field in 2015. Shortly after the Mangum Miracle was completed for the second time in two weeks, ESPN analyst and former great Desmond Howard tweeted on his personal account the following.
It’s safe to assume that if you follow college football even in the slightest, you have heard of Mangum by now. But if for some reason you haven’t, keep your eyes open the rest of the season, as the Cougars keep this run going with a date with UCLA in the Rose Bowl next weekend.
Mangum may not be the consensus Heisman frontrunner around the country, but analysts like Mandel are opening the door slightly for the former backup to bust through any time he wants.