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No fewer than a half-dozen reporters gathered around Zach Wilson as the freshman quarterback paused for interviews after football practice earlier this week.
Tanner Mangum strolled past the throng, head down a little bit, and casually glanced over at the attention that used to belong to him on Wednesday afternoons when offensive players are made available to the media.
Then a member of BYU’s sports information staff stepped in front of the senior and told him that some reporters wanted to talk to him as well.
No problem, Mangum said, and patiently waited until Wilson’s interview concluded.
Mangum is handling his benching “like a pro,” Aaron Roderick said, and I agree wholeheartedly with the quarterbacks coach who has said the midseason quarterback change has caused him to lose sleep at night. Mangum has shown remarkable maturity and positivity since he was informed two days after the 45-20 loss to Utah State that coaches were going with Wilson against Hawaii.
“It is a part of the game,” Mangum said Wednesday when it was his turn to talk. “It has been an opportunity for me to be a good teammate and help Zach out the best I can and make sure he is as prepared as possible, and being there for everyone else, too.
“I am just making sure that I am staying as dialed in as I can, as focused as possible to stay in that same mindset that I always have been, to keep preparing no matter what and yeah, I have been working hard, just as I have always been, and still being me,” he continued.
Mangum said he wasn’t surprised that Wilson, his roommate at hotels the nights before games, played well against the Rainbow Warriors.
“He is obviously a very talented player,” Mangum said. “He threw the ball well. He played with his feet, too. I thought he managed the game really well. He’s a smart kid. He picks up things really fast and he doesn’t shy away from the big moment. He doesn’t look fazed out there, and he’s not. He relishes those big moments and so, it is impressive to watch. I have seen him play all year long and I know what he is capable of. I wasn’t surprised at all to see him play the way he did.”
A pro, indeed.
Rounding Them Up
In case you missed them, here are some of the stories, player profiles and columns the Tribune has brought to you this past week:
* Junior safety Dayan Ghanwoloku is one of BYU’s best defensive players, but he also has a remarkable backstory. The Northridge High (Layton, Utah) product is a refugee, having fled to the United States from the West African country of Liberia when he was 5 years old. Trib
* In case you haven’t noticed, there is a youth movement taking place in Provo. Freshmen are making a big impact for BYU football this season, especially on offense. Trib
• BYU has won consecutive games just once this season, knocking off Wisconsin and McNeese on back-to-back Saturdays in September. The Cougars can do it again this Saturday against Northern Illinois, but it won’t be easy. The Huskies have one of the best defenses in the country. Trib
• The Cougars are 4-3 and seemingly headed toward a bowl game in 2018, but the first half of the season has been a mixed bag with the thrilling upset of Wisconsin and the lopsided losses to Washington and Utah State. Trib
* BYU’s men’s basketball team opened its two-game exhibition season with a 92-71 win over Saint Martin’s University of Lacey, Wash., on Wednesday night. The Cougars were a bit sloppy and let down defensively in the second half. They also need to get in better shape, coach Dave Rose said. Trib
Views From Elsewhere
• Deseret News columnist Dick Harmon caught up with assistant head coach Ed Lamb for more on the youth movement influencing BYU football. Dnews
• Four Kaufusis are playing for the Cougars this season. Here’s more on one of them, linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi. DNews
• The Provo Daily Herald always does a fine job digging into BYU’s football opponents before the game. Here are some interesting trivia on Northern Illinois. Herald
In light of news last week that four-star recruit Jack Tuttle was transferring away from Utah after sitting behind Tyler Huntley the first six games of the season, I asked the aforementioned quarterbacks coach Roderick how difficult these sudden, early transfers are on coaches who recruited the athletes. His reply:
“It can be hard. You see it all over the country, for sure. You saw it last week [with Jack Tuttle]. What, six games into the first season? It is a challenge, for sure. But I think that eventually the cream always rises to the top. The best players will eventually emerge. Guys who can stick it out and stay with it usually end up showing that they have the mental toughness and courage that it takes to actually lead a team to wins at this level. It takes a lot. Guys that can’t handle that, it is fine. They can move on.”
Elsewhere on campus
• The day before their men’s basketball exhibition opener, the Cougars picked senior Luke Worthington and junior TJ Haws to be their captains for the 2018-19 season. BYU downed Saint Martin’s 92-71 Wednesday and will host Westminster College in another exhibition game next week.
• BYU’s women’s soccer team is on a scoring tear, having posted eight goals last week in road wins over Pacific (5-1) and Saint Mary’s (3-1). The Cougars (10-4-1, 5-1 WCC) return to South Field this week for the season’s final home games. They host San Francisco (10-5-2) on Thursday night and No. 6-ranked Santa Clara (14-2-1) on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m.
• BYU’s No. 1-ranked women’s volleyball team is on the road this week at Portland on Thursday and Gonzaga on Saturday afternoon. Senior setter Lyndie Haddock-Eppich is the WCC Player of the Week for the second time this season after leading the Cougars to sweeps of LMU and Pepperdine last week.