The Under Armour High School All-America Game, on Thursday night, featured a dominating 49-16 win by the White team.
MVP of the game was White team quarterback Jameis Winston, who completed almost all of his passes while scoring two TDs and zero interceptions.
The most impressive player at the game was not Winston, however, but BYU commit QB Tanner Mangum.
On paper, Mangum’s effort may seem disappointing. He had three interceptions, no touchdowns, and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. However, no stat sheet can quantify the intangibles that Mangum showed in the game.
Mangum has been practicing with the White squad all week, and, along with Florida State commit Winston and Cal commit Zac Kline, formed the platoon of quarterbacks for the White team.
Despite having been the top-performing passer at the Nike Elite 11 Quarterback Camp last summer, Mangum was ranked below both Winston and Kline and hasn’t gotten anywhere near the respect he deserves, mainly because he hails from Idaho and committed to BYU instead of LSU, Bama, USC, or some other school that gets all the love during recruiting season.
The Under-Armour Game provided Mangum with the opportunity to finally get the respect and time in the national spotlight that he deserved.
The White team quickly asserted its dominance, and Mangum entered the game for them late in the second half, making some throws that impressed the commentators.
What Mangum did next was one of the most refreshing things to happen in a long time in a recruiting landscape littered with immature, selfish prospects who focus on themselves and how to get as much personal glory as possible.
Mangum switched teams at the half and joined the overmatched Black team, who were down to only one QB after losing Texas commit Connor Brewer in the first half and Miami commit Preston Dewey earlier in the week.
He donned the generic No. 20 black jersey, which simply had the word “Under” emblazoned on the back instead of his name, making him the only player on the field who didn’t have his name on his jersey.
The second Mangum joined the Black team, he was knowingly walking into a no-win situation.
He had practiced all week with the White team, knew the White team’s playbook, had gotten a feeling for working with his teammates on the White team, and was lined up to be part of the excitement and accomplishment of being part of the winning team.
Instead of worrying about himself or enjoying glorious victory with his White squad teammates that he had bonded with over the week, Mangum chose to join a downtrodden Black team he had no experience with, and which was being dominated on all fronts.
The Black team offensive line had been completely unable to protect their quarterbacks, and as a result their QBs were being pummeled and had little chance to impress with their skills or improve national perception of themselves.
Yet Mangum still chose to make the personal sacrifice of joining a team in desperate need of quarterbacks, even though doing so would completely destroy any shot at personal glory and success for him in this game.
Indeed, the Black team receivers and offensive linemen let him down, and he wound up throwing two interceptions for which he bears very little responsibility.
Quite frankly, Tanner Mangum gave up his last shot to get the respect he deserves until he returns from his LDS mission almost three years from now, in order to help out a group of players simply because it was the right thing to do.
BYU fans are all too familiar with highly-talented athletes who care too much about themselves and not enough about the team.
Former top-rated QB Jake Heaps recently transferred from BYU to Kansas after losing the starting job due to lack of personal responsibility and a lack of mental toughness and leadership abilities.
Tanner Mangum just proved to the BYU faithful that he doesn’t have the same lack of character, leadership, and mental toughness that plagued Heaps during his tenure at BYU. Cougar fans have to be excited about getting a player who just provided the ultimate definition of what a “team player” is.
It may not show up on the stat sheet, and he probably won’t get the recognition or respect that he deserves, but Tanner Mangum was easily the most impressive player at the 2012 Under Armour All-America game.