CAMP: Position Switch Pays Off for Mangum

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Just over a year ago, Max Mangum made the decision to convert from a quarterback -- which he'd played all his life -- to a safety. Turns out, he loves to hit, and schools are loving what they're seeing.

BERKELEY, Calif. -- A year ago, Max Mangum was a quarterback for Austin (Tex.) Westlake, who hadn’t seen any varsity time. At a school with alumni like Nick Foles and Drew Brees, quarterbacking is an art, and comes with a lot of legacy attached.

This past football season, though, the 6-foot, 175-pounder converted to safety, and just like that, he became a force, starting all 11 games, tallying 50 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, one quarterback hurry, five pass deflections, one forced fumble and one blocked field goal.

During the instructional running portion of Saturday’s one-day California skill position camp, Mangum recorded a 4.62 pro agility drill time, and a 4.65 40. He may not be the biggest defensive back on the field, but he’s got a very, very hot motor.

During individual work, Mangum showed good hip flexibility, a low, smooth backpedal and good acceleration. Once work turned to one-on-ones, he showed off a quick hip flip to break up a pass on a post route, and recorded a stay-with-it breakup on a receiver three inches taller than him. The next rep, Mangum recorded another breakup out of press coverage, once again against a bigger receiver. What Mangum excels at is the use of his hands, and an uncanny ability to play bigger than he is.

“I just play high speed all the time. That’s the biggest thing to catch some eyes,” said Mangum.

That’s exactly what Mangum was out in California to do, invited to the camp by special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl and head coach Sonny Dykes (who helped recruit Foles to Arizona, and was on staff while Brees was being recruited by Kentucky), along with his wide receiver teammate Reed Klubnik, a long, rangy pass catcher.

“I think I did alright. My testing was a little bit down, but I had fun competing during the one-on-one sessions,” Mangum said. As for his lengthy trip to get to Berkeley? “What’s not to love about Cal-Berkeley? It’s a great place. Coach Dykes is a Texas guy, and it’s just an awesome place, a very attractive place.”

Mangum sports a 3.9 GPA, and offers from Davidson, Princeton and Dartmouth. He’s visited the Tigers, Iowa and Vanderbilt.

“I’ve been all over the place,” Mangum said. “The high academics, those are the most attractive ones.”

He’s not just a scholar, though. Despite Saturday’s camp being a non-padded event, Mangum still showcased a lot of physicality and toughness, and his tape at free safety backs that up.

“I like hitting people. I love hitting people,” Mangum said. “I’d been a quarterback all the way up until a year ago, so I’ve only been a DB for a year. It’s completely different. It’s a completely different mindset. It’s a fun thing to do.”


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