Tanner Mangum rises up
From hitting a Hall of Famer in the numbers to making plays, the BYU commit is shining
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Tanner Mangum could have easily let the moment get the best of him.
Mangum, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback from Eagle, Idaho, was throwing passes during drill work at The Opening when Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice cut to the front of the receiver line.
Mangum looked down the line and could hardly believe his eyes. "Is that really Jerry Rice?" he asked himself.
It happened in the blink of an eye. I was just going back to get another receiver, and then Jerry Rice cuts to the front of the line. He says, 'Hey, I'm going to run an 18-yard comeback.' I got a little nervous because I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of all these people.” -- BYU QB commit Tanner Mangum
With television cameras on and surrounded by some of the nation's top high school football players, Mangum was asked to throw an 18-yard comeback to arguably the best to ever play the game.
No pressure, right?
"It happened in the blink of an eye," Mangum said. "I was just going back to get another receiver, and then Jerry Rice cuts to the front of the line. He says, 'Hey, I'm going to run an 18-yard comeback.' I got a little nervous because I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of all these people."
Mangum, a BYU commit, delivered a strike.
"That's a tough throw, and I didn't want to overthrow the greatest of all time," Mangum said. "But luckily, he ran a great route and made a great catch. I tried to put it a little on the outside so he can go get it, and he made me look really good."
Mangum has looked good throughout the entire event. After his strong showing at Thursday's Nike Football Training Camp, his accurate passes helped Team Vapor Carbon finish 3-0 on Friday during the first rounds of the 7on tournament.
He drew major praise from Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro receiver Dwayne Bowe, who stood on the sideline and watched Mangum shred the team he was coaching for touchdown after touchdown.
"That quarterback's good, man," Bowe said. "That quarterback's good."
Mangum, who came into The Opening as a three-star prospect and the No. 50 quarterback, also has caught the eye of ESPN national director of recruiting Tom Luginbill.
"He has really seen his stock rise in our eyes this week with an accurate and efficient showing," Luginbill said. "He is a late bloomer with good size, more than adequate arm strength, and a nice feel for timing and ball placement. He has a great feel for changing ball speeds depending on the throw and the touch to lay the ball into tight spots in coverage on downfield throws.
"What really impressed us was his accuracy throwing on the move. He is a perfect fit for BYU's offense and should blossom nicely."
While he doesn't have quite the national name as the other quarterbacks at The Opening, Mangum believes he's more than proved he belongs right up there with the rest of them.
"I feel like I've definitely held my own," Mangum said. "Coming from Idaho, it's not a state that's as well known for its football and football talent. I really take it upon myself to represent not only myself but Idaho and Idaho football.
"I do my best to make good decisions and be accurate. That's my main goal -- getting the playmakers the ball. And here that's no problem, because they're everywhere."
But if you ask George Whitfield, who trained No. 1 draft pick Cam Newton and coaches Team Vapor Carbon, the best so far has been Mangum.
"He is in full control," Whitfield said. "He's aggressively thoughtful in terms of how he plays. He's got the guts to rise up and fire the ball in some spots that he had to really fit them in. He jammed it in there some times.
"You watch some of these other quarterbacks here, and they would absolutely shy away from that. What he's doing isn't reckless, either. He's quick getting it out, and he's absolute in his decision. To me, honestly I think he's the best passer on this campus this week."
Jeremy Crabtree is the senior recruiting coordinator for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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