He recalls on Saturday afternoons that he would watch Penn State games with his father, a life-long fan and his brother Santino. It was a routine for the Mangiro family to gather around the television set and watch the Nittany Lions play. He says that growing up, his father would always talk about Penn State and the glory years in the 1980's. Despite growing up as a fan, he says he wasn't influenced by this early fandom in his decision.
"I honestly looked at all of college football as a fan over the past couple years," Mangiro told FightOnState.com. "I watched a lot less Penn State the past couple years as I've tried to learn about other teams and programs. Even as a Penn State fan, I wouldn't have picked Penn State just to go there – I wouldn't go if it wasn't the best fit for me."
Penn State originally reached out to him after his freshman year when he started varsity for Roxbury. Mangiro says that his coach began sending out his game-tape to programs and that Penn State responded. It was coach Anderson who reached out to Mangiro's coach at Roxbury, Cosmo Lorusso, to say they were impressed.
"Coach Anderson told them that they weren't used to seeing film like that from a freshman," Mangiro said. "From there, they always stayed in touch but they never pushed too hard or pressed me like some programs did. That's not their style."
Mangiro cites his first visit to Penn State last fall for a game against Indiana as one that made an impression. He said that 85,000 fans were present but the student section was "half-full" for that game. No matter, he says - the fact that the surrounding community turned out for a game that wasn't marquee impressed him.
From there, it was building a bond with the players and the program. Mangiro said the offer from Penn State came in late, later than most. He figured after hauling in an offer from Ohio State that the Nittany Lions would quickly follow. Not so, was the reply from Happy Valley according to Mangiro, who acknowledges that Penn State moves at their own speed.
"They say, ‘we are who we are' and leave it at that," Mangiro said.
This spring, he got that offer from Penn State during an unofficial visit. During the trip, he finally met head coach Joe Paterno and then before lunch, got word of the offer. From that point on, he says that the program was often on his mind, and he cites the relationship built with coach Anderson for that.
"He wasn't on me all the time, like some coaches. Once a week, he'd send me a letter in the mail – a handwritten letter," Mangiro said. "It was nice. It often went beyond football and asking about me. I liked it. I looked forward to getting them."
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012