Senior Tanner Mangum will be BYU’s starting quarterback when the Cougars line up against Arizona on Sept. 1 at Wildcats Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.
Ending more than six months of speculation, BYU coach Kalani Sitake released his depth chart for the 2018 season late Friday afternoon, and it shows the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Mangum as the starter and freshman Zach Wilson as the backup.
The announcement does not come as a huge surprise. Mangum received the bulk of the reps in the final week of preseason camp, which concluded with Thursday’s scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Mangum, who started in eight games last year, said Thursday that he is confident he can lead the Cougars to a win in the season opener.
“Oh yeah, we both can. Absolutely,” Mangum said. “We have both played well this camp. We have both shown that we can run the offense and lead the team and make plays.
“Regardless of who is in, we are confident that we can go out there and execute and get the job done. And that’s a good thing to have. To be able to have depth and competition and guys that push you. That’s something that helps every team.”
Wilson was in the running to become the first true freshman quarterback at BYU to ever start in a season opener. He’s listed on the depth chart as having the exact same height and weight as Mangum, 6-3, 205.
Wilson was playing at Draper’s Corner Canyon High last fall, but graduated early so he could participate in spring camp and join the quarterback derby, which also included junior Beau Hoge and sophomore Joe Critchlow last spring. Hoge was moved to running back the first day of preseason camp, and midway through camp offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick said the competition had been narrowed to Wilson and Mangum.
Like Mangum, Wilson said Thursday he was confident he could deliver a win if called upon.
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “I think any quarterback in the situation can as well. I think we are all well-prepared. I think any of us in the right situation will be able to make plays on this team.”
In the end, coaches went with the experience and steadiness of Mangum over the higher ceiling that Wilson seemed to display in camp. On Thursday, BYU coach Kalani Sitake did not rule out the possibility that whichever quarterback did not win the starting job would still see significant playing time this season.
“Yeah, I love the quarterback group,” Sitake said. “I have been really pleased with Tanner and Zach and the way they work within the offense. They have a good command of the offense and are making good decisions. Actually really surprised and excited about the up and coming guys, too. I mean, [freshman] Jaren Hall has done some great things and Joe Critchlow has done some great things, so it is a good group.”
There are a few surprises on the depth chart, which BYU usually waits to release on the Monday before the first game of the season.
Freshman Darius McFarland, a returned missionary who was recruited as a defensive lineman, is listed as the backup fullback behind Brayden El-Bakri.
At tight end, freshman All-American Matt Bushman is listed as the co-starter with three other players — freshman Dallin Holker, junior Moroni Laulu-Pututau and converted offensive lineman JJ Nwigwe.
Dylan Collie, the transfer from Hawaii who redshirted his freshman season at BYU before a church mission and a transfer, made the starting lineup at slot receiver, along with Aleva Hifo.