Senior Nick Mangieri spent all of last season playing a new position in a new defensive scheme. At spring practice, he was back on the defensive line where he had played his first two years with the Hoosiers.
Playing the position he’d played since high school – defensive end – was a welcoming return.
”I was a little rusty at first,” Mangieri. “But I’m getting comfortable with it, learning the schemes and just getting back to reading the offense line and their stances. So it’s been going pretty smooth.”
Playing in the new scheme and with a new defensive coordinator didn’t drastically affect Mangieri’s stats. In some categories, they actually improved.
At the bandit position, he started all 12 games last season (his junior campaign) compared to just 10 his sophomore year playing defensive end. Overall, he recorded 37 tackles at the bandit position compared to 26 in 2013.
Though his total number of sacks dropped by one – two as a junior after three as a sophomore, he was successful in changing positions.
However, when he last played defensive end, he was playing it in a 4-3 scheme under former IU defensive coordinator Doug Mallory. When the Hoosiers brought in Brian Knorr prior to the 2014 season, Knorr installed a 3-4 scheme.
In Knorr’s scheme, Mangieri played more often using a two-point stance because of the bandit position. Now, as a defensive end, he’s using the 3-point stance again. It’s something he said has been the biggest adjustment.
”It’s definitely helped having played d-end in the past,” he said. “The 3-4 is a lot different from the 4-3, because you’re taking lateral steps as opposed to firing off the ball. But having the experience has definitely helped.”
A relatively smooth transition has made it easy for the veteran defensive lineman to take on other roles on the team.
As a senior taking in his third spring practice, he’s been much more vocal and teaching the younger players throughout those practices.
”It’s always big to be vocal with the younger guys and to be able to help them even when the coaches aren’t there and don’t see it,” Mangieri said. “Because as an older guy, you see things that – I mean, the coaches see everything, obviously, but they’ll miss stuff when they’re looking at one particular guy – so you’ve got to help coach the guys that they’re not looking at. We want them to be better that we’ve been, so as younger guys you want them to be as good as you are, if not better.”
While being a coach on the field, his coaches on the sidelines like IU defensive line coach Larry McDaniel have also noticed how well Mangieri has done with the transition.
”Nick Mangieri has really done a nice job for us,” McDaniel said after IU’s seventh spring football practice on April 2. “Just from transitioning from standing up to getting his hand back in the dirt, he’s latched on to the position. So it’s really been a good transition for him.”
Mangieri has been working on other aspects of his game besides being more vocal.
IU head coach Kevin Wilson, in a March 25th tweet, said Mangieri was one of the IU strength staff’s most improved athletes. Mangieri might also see that same improvement in the defensive line.
”It’s got to be the strength of our defense and I think we all know that,” he said. “We’re all veterans for the most part and just ready for the season.”