This week’s Boise State storyline is almost as intriguing as last week’s. This week’s Boise State storyline is almost as intriguing as last week’s. It’s all about a true freshman in Provo (and it’s not because his sister Meredith played soccer for the Broncos). Tanner Mangum was the starting quarterback at Timberline High as a ninth-grader. The chronology of the BYU Cougar quarterback starts there. Two years later, having transferred to Eagle, Mangum was poised for a big junior season in 2010—but missed most of it after breaking his collarbone. Nevertheless, Mangum was heavily recruited and committed to BYU the following April. We reported then that he picked the Cougars over Boise State, Utah, Arkansas and Oregon State. “It came down to Boise State and BYU, and it would be an honor to play for either one,” said Mangum on Idaho SportsTalk at the time. “But I knew in my heart that BYU was the place to go.”
Then came the prestigious Elite 11 in the summer of 2011. He was the unknown quantity from little ol’ Idaho. The original field of 24 invitees was whittled to 11, and Mangum was among the last ones standing. He was co-MVP of the competition with Jameis Winston. National analysts were blown away. “It’s just the same guy getting noticed now,” Mangum said after the awards were presented. “I’ve been working hard to be a good quarterback since I was a kid. It’s good to have this hard work pay off for me.”
Mangum then threw for 3,885 yards and 35 touchdowns as a Mustang senior. Then he played in the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg in January, 2012. Mangum’s original plan was to leave for his LDS mission in that summer and return to BYU for the 2014 season. Instead, he enrolled in classes in the fall of 2012 but didn’t officially join the team, so he grayshirted. Mangum’s eligibility clock didn’t start ticking until the spring. A story in the Deseret News points out something interesting: a precious few among the legion of great BYU quarterbacks have come back from missions and prospered. Writer Brandon Gurney could only pinpoint two, Brandon Doman and John Beck. But in BYU’s 2013 spring game, Mangum completed all six of his pass attempts and rushed for 56 yards. There was hope he’d return in two years and make an impact.
An ESPN.com non-BCS recruiting analysis in the spring of 2013 trumpeted Boise State and BYU. And it referenced BYU’s ability to extend college careers through LDS missions, bringing up Mangum. We did the math then, and had Mangum redshirted in 2015, he wouldn’t have been a senior until 2019—at the age of 26. As it is, Mangum is a 22-year-old true freshman coming off the opening-weekend Hail Mary at Nebraska that will stand as one of the plays of the year. And it works out that his first college start is against the team he grew up watching.
The Boise State secondary may be undersized Saturday night at BYU, but it won’t be out-physicaled. Senior cornerback Donte Deayon has bulked “all the way up” to 155 pounds this year (remember when he was 143?). Deayon is still listed as 5-9. But his leaping ability sets him apart—and it’ll have to do against the Cougars’ 6-5 and 6-6 wideouts. Bronco fans will not soon forget Deayon’s interception against Louisiana-Lafayette last September on a ball that looked like it was hopelessly overthrown. He appeared to be headed for the Steuckle Sky Center. On the other side, this will be a real test for Jonathan Moxey, who’s gaining respect as a junior.
The Broncos’ safeties have decent height in 6-1 Dylan Sumner-Gardner and 6-2 Darian Thompson. Beyond that they’re stout, and they bring the hammer. Sumner-Gardner was third on the team with five tackles in the Broncos’ win over Washington last week. It’s been well-documented that Sumner-Gardner arrived in 2014 from Texas—a one-time Texas A&M commit—as somewhat of a know-it-all. He played as a true freshman last year, but it was a sobering experience. After a winter, spring and summer of dedication to the film room and his craft, this is DSG’s time. “He loves life, he loves football, he loves being here,” said coach Bryan Harsin. “He’s a downhill, physical safety.”
One of the other marquee games involving the Mountain West this week has Colorado State hosting Minnesota, and the Rams may or may not have star wide receiver Rashard Higgins at 100 percent. Higgins sprained his ankle in last Saturday’s 65-13 rout of Savannah State and didn’t return to practice until yesterday. Coach Mike Bobo expects Higgins to play. He had seven catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in the opener. Last year Higgins had 96 catches and led the nation with 1,750 receiving yards and 17 TD grabs.
The first full weekend of college football was compelling, and one of the features was Portland State’s stunning 24-17 upset of Washington State. How discouraging that was in Pullman—how encouraging it was in Portland. Now Idaho State gets the Vikings in Holt Arena Saturday. The Bengals are ranked 23rd in the FCS; Portland State is 24th. ISU is coming off its first shutout in 10 years, the 55-0 romp over Black Hills State last Saturday. The Bengals settled on Michael Sanders as starting quarterback, and he went 15-of-18 for 278 yards and five touchdowns. Jacobi Ford added 201 yards rushing. The sledding promises to be a lot tougher versus the Vikings.
A football program reaches maturity when it starts winning consistently on the road. The College of Idaho, 1-5 away from Simplot Stadium last year, makes its first road trip of the season Saturday when the Coyotes visit Montana Western in Dillon. It’s the first of three games in Montana for the Yotes. The C of I program is in just the second year of its revival, and with that you get good trivia. Get this—the C of I’s last win in the state of Montana came in 1953, a victory in Bozeman against Montana State. The Coyotes will have some resolve this week after the disappointing come-from-ahead loss last Saturday to Pacific University.
Dave Southorn of the Statesman reports that Boise State has its first men’s basketball commit of the 2016 class. Alex Hobbs, a 6-4 shooting guard from LaPorte, TX, gave his verbal after visiting Boise last weekend. Hobbs had an impressive final eight he was choosing from. In addition to the Broncos were Baylor, Butler, Houston, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, San Diego State and Wake Forest.
I’ll never understand why Oakland let Josh Donaldson get away to Toronto. The Blue Jays have been the winners, as the former Boise Hawk has topped 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in for the first time in his career. In fact, now the adventure is: will be hit 40 homers? Donaldson has 37 right now, along with 115 RBIs. And he’s batting .307 as Toronto tries to hold off the Yankees in the American League East. Last night Donaldson went 2-for-3 in the Jays’ 10-4 loss to Boston—Toronto retains its 1½-game divisional lead nevertheless. Donaldson and Angels star Mike Trout are the two lead candidates for the AL Most Valuable Player award.
This Day In Sports…September 10, 2002:
The East Coast Hockey League votes to absorb the West Coast Hockey League, including the Idaho Steelheads, beginning in the 2003-04 season. The WCHL was down to six teams after the demise of the Tacoma Sabrecats following the previous season, though it did have expansion franchises slated for Las Vegas, Reno, and Ontario, CA (although Reno never happened). The move by the ECHL created a huge national Double-A minor league for pro hockey.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)