PROVO — Tanner Mangum just wrapped up his first spring football camp as the odds-on starter at quarterback for the BYU football team.
Linebacker Fred Warner is entering his senior season, which he believes “could be one of the best groups (of linebackers) that’s ever done it here.”
Both will be heavily leaned on in the coming months as leaders of the Cougars’ 2017 campaign, which includes teams like Louisiana State, Utah and Wisconsin amongst the loaded schedule.
Here are a few highlights from KSL Sports’ recent sit-down with the two veteran playmakers at BYU. Click the video above for the complete interview.
KSL: What did the offense accomplish during spring football?
Tanner Mangum: Just seeing the jump from where we were last year at this point to where we are now is huge. Last year, we were trying to figure out the basics. Now having a year under our belt, I think we’ve taken a big jump forward. And we’ve got to build on what we did last season. We had great rushing games, and now we need to build on that.
KSL: What’s your progression been like this spring?
TM: I think it’s been a huge confidence builder for me. I have a more complete understanding of the offense. It was good for me to sit out last year, learn from Ty (Detmer) and learn from Taysom (Hill). It’s definitely helped my confidence.
KSL: What benefits did you gain from watching last season from the sideline?
TM: You’ve got to make the most of it. Sometimes it’s tough, being a competitor, because you want to play. But I think I learned a lot in understanding the offense and hearing what Ty wants on each play. It was good for me to get the behind-the-scenes information on each play.
KSL: Fred, defensively you have a lot back on the defensive side of the ball and a lot of reasons to be excited. What did you see in spring that gives you hope for what you want to accomplish this season?
Fred Warner: This time around, we wanted to focus on mastering the scheme and being fundamentally sound. Now that it’s the end of spring, I feel like we did those pretty well. A year ago at this time, we were really unsure about the new coaching staff. Now myself and the rest of the team are a lot more comfortable in the scheme.
KSL: What did you do to get better?
FW: I think this spring is a lot about consistency and setting goals for myself every day. I’m all about this team and working as hard as I can every day. It’s what allows me to help these guys.
KSL: You are both expected to be leaders. What are you doing to be such a good leader?
TM: Coach Sitake talks to us a lot about leadership. He talks about leading by example; you can lead by authority and come down on people, or you can lead by example and with love. I think that’s the key, for me, for Fred, and for the other leaders; we’ve got to be able to set the tone — not just with words, but with our actions.
FW: I think the best leaders lead by example. Obviously, there are times where guys have to speak up and be vocal leaders. That will be me and Tanner’s job to step up and speak for that.
KSL: What drives you to be great?
TM: Sometimes it depends on the day. But mainly, my motivation is that I want to be great at something. That’s what I love about football: You are never there. You are never perfect. I fell in love with the game when I was 8 years old, and now here I am 15 years later and there is still so much room to improve. I love that pursuit of perfection.
We have to be our best. We want to compete for a championship, and we have to understand that isn’t going to come overnight. We have to earn it; we’ve got to work for it. If everyone is on that same page and understands that, then we can help each other out. We can build each other up and do it together. You aren’t going to do it alone.
FW: I always refer back to my family, and specifically my mom. I’ve always played for her. I saw how hard she worked when I was growing up, and I always wanted to give back to her. That’s what I always think about with those early morning workouts.