Not the fastest but the first.
Tanner Mangum’s older brother Parker offered this advice to Mangum when he began playing football in the second grade. It was his way of telling his younger brother that even if he might not be the most athletic player on the football field, he could still be the best player on it if he put in the time to improve.
The advice has stuck with Mangum throughout his career. The Eagle (Eagle, Idaho) senior quarterback knew that if he wanted to get noticed in a state not known for producing elite football talent, he’d have to work his tail off to excel against the nation’s best when the opportunity presented itself.
Mission accomplished. This offseason, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder shined at the Elite 11 finals, where he was named co-MVP, and at Nike Football’s “The Opening” to establish himself as one of the nation’s premier signal-callers. Mangum is now rated the No. 10 quarterback and No. 148 overall recruit in the ESPNU 150.
It was a satisfying way to cap off what was a frustrating year for Mangum, who missed the majority of his junior season with a broken collarbone. And he’s carried that momentum into his senior season, throwing for 1,181 yards, 13 touchdowns and just two picks through his first four games (4-0).
Mangum has committed to BYU, but he won’t set foot on the Provo campus until the summer of 2014 when he completes his two-year LDS mission.
But before he does, he’s looking to cap off his high school career with a state title.
So what drives this well-rounded QB? It’s time to Get Familiar with Tanner Mangum.
ESPNHS: Did you ever think you’d be considered one of the nation’s top football recruits?
Mangum: It’s definitely been a dream come true. I grew up watching the Elite 11 and following the top recruits, and to be mentioned among them is surreal. It’s an honor and a privilege, but I think it’s a product of hard work. Sometimes it feels too good to be true, but it’s been great.
ESPNHS: Who do you credit the most for getting you to this point in your career?
Mangum: My older brother Parker has been one of my biggest supporters, but he’s also been one of my best coaches. I definitely credit him for teaching me all the basics, pushing me to do better and instilling a work ethic in me. My other brother Madison would catch passes from me.
ESPNHS: How do you deal with this newfound attention?
Mangum: I do my best to not get caught up in it. I just focus on what I can control. I’m not in the rankings business. It’s really just focusing on the team first and the individual awards will come.
ESPNHS: What was your motivation heading into Elite 11 and were you surprised by your performance?
Mangum: I wanted to back up my performance at “The Opening.” I wanted to show it wasn’t a fluke and I’m here to stay. And I wanted to show Idaho some respect. Some people don’t expect much to come out of Idaho. I wanted to show I could play with anyone, and it felt good to be able to do that.
ESPNHS: How difficult is it to get noticed in Idaho?
Mangum: You can get noticed, but it takes more of an individual effort. It’s possible if you have that desire. Idaho is a state that might get passed over. If you really want it, you have to go out and get it yourself. In eighth grade, I started going to camps because it was my dream to play college football and be the best quarterback I could be.
ESPNHS: How difficult was it missing most of last season?
Mangum: It was tough because I love playing the game of football. It’s my passion and my life. But I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself. It was a good chance for me to be a student of the game and to be a good teammate. I went to all the games and tried to do all I could to contribute.
ESPNHS: What do you do for fun when you’re not playing football?
Mangum: I also play basketball. I’m in the choir, I’m taking guitar and I’m an Eagle Scout. I try to stay busy and keep some balance in my life. I just started playing guitar this school year and it’s going well. I hope to keep playing it the rest of my life. I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends. Family is the most important to me. It’s nice to have a low-key life away from football.
ESPNHS: What role has your faith played in your success?
Mangum: Faith has definitely played a role in my decisions my entire life. I plan on serving on my mission next year. I know I’ve gotten some heat for it. Football is important, but it’s not No. 1. I try not to let football change who I am. It doesn’t matter what you do, sports are going to end.
ESPNHS: When will you take your LDS mission and what does it entail?
Mangum: I’ll leave next summer and return the summer of 2014 in time for fall camp. I won’t know until a little before I go where I’m going. I’m excited. It’ll be a great opportunity. I can see the positive impact it’s had on my dad and both my brothers. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. You put yourself aside and really just focus on the Gospel and helping others out. It’s an experience where you can work on being selfless.
School: Eagle (Eagle, Idaho)
TV Shows: “SportsCenter,” “College Football Live” & “Jeopardy!”
Movies: “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Friday Night Lights” & “Remember the Titans”
Actor: Denzel Washington
Musical Artist: Tim McGraw
Pregame Song: Anything by Jack Johnson. I like to listen to something that’s calm. As a quarterback, you don’t want to get too hyped.
Athlete: Tom Brady
Clothing Line: Nike
Video Game: "NCAA Football" and "Madden"
School Subject: History
Food: Any kind of pasta
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Hobby: Playing guitar
Book: “Friday Night Lights” by H.G. Bissinger
NEXT UP: Mangum and his Eagle teammates are on the road this week against Meridian (Meridian, Idaho).
Jon Mahoney covers football for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Email him at email@example.com to let him know which top high school football player he should Get Familiar with.