Seven years before orchestrating game-winning drives for Brigham Young University in back-to-back weeks, quarterback Tanner Mangum accomplished something even more impressive.
He became an Eagle Scout.
Mangum is the BYU quarterback behind two headline-making Hail Marys: first on Sept. 5 against Nebraska and then again Sept. 12 against 20th-ranked Boise State. He earned Scouting’s highest honor in 2008 as a member of Troop 106 in the Ore-Ida Council.
He attended — and you can’t make this up — Eagle High School in Eagle, Idaho.
If you haven’t seen Mangum’s incredible 42-yard pass against Nebraska, thrown while the game clock read 0:00, here you go:
Next, check out what he did one week later, this time against Boise State.
Assuming you’re not a fan of Nebraska or Boise State, these were some great moments. But when you delve into Mangum’s story, it gets even better.
An unlikely hero
You see, Mangum wasn’t even supposed to be in the game at that critical moment against Nebraska. He was the backup. If not for a season-ending injury to the team’s starting quarterback earlier in the game, Mangum, a freshman, would’ve been standing on the sidelines.
Instead, he was right there on the field in front of 90,000 Nebraska fans. He showed poise and leadership and left with the victory. Then, to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he did it again one week later.
Not bad for a 22-year-old who’s only been back in this country for three months.
As this terrific ESPN story explains, Mangum returned from a two-year LDS church mission trip on June 3.
He served in the Antofagasta region of northern Chile. He and other missionaries did earthquake and flood relief. He painted houses and built structures.
It was physically and mentally taxing work, and it wasn’t the best preparation to immediately return to competitive football. In fact, one former BYU quarterback told ESPN that it usually takes missionaries 12 months to regain muscle memory and strength.
In other words, Mangum shouldn’t have been able to do what he did.
But he’s an Eagle Scout. Should we really be surprised?
Eagle Scouts in college football
Mangum isn’t the only Eagle Scout on a successful college football team.
As Scouting Newsroom reported this week, University of Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett is an Eagle Scout as well. M-I-Z!
Featured photo via BYU. Photography by Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo