The Kurt Mangum Tour has taken him up and down the West Coast and across the country the past month-plus. His final stop brought him last weekend to Stanford for the Nike Camp and the Cardinal's Junior Day. We spoke with Chandler (Ariz.) Basha High School linebacker on the field after his combine performance on Saturday. Now he shares his report on Sunday's festivities on The Farm.
"It was an excellent Junior Day. I truly enjoyed it," Mangum says. "It was great getting a chance to talk to the players, see the facilities and meeting the professors. Overall it was just a great Junior Day. It was one of the best I've been to so far."
"It was my first time on the campus, and it was great. I'm not sure how much better it could be," he adds. "It's beautiful. The stadium is new and state-of-the-art, too."
"One of the biggest things was when the coaches left the room, and the recruits and parents had one-on-one time with the players who are playing right now," the recruit relates. "We were able to kind of interview them to see what they think without the coaches around, editing the answers. It was very welcoming. Very easy and at home."
"I learned that this is not just what the coaches are saying. It's also the players who feel the same way," Mangum maintains. "You can tell that they're genuine, not just trying to sell you on the school. They were really honest."
The Arizona student-athlete made a point Saturday to tell us how proud he is of his 3.75 GPA. Investigating the educational components of the Stanford experience was an important part of his Sunday mission. He walked away impressed as expected.
"Of course, the biggest selling point is the academics," Mangum says. "And the fact that you can get the best of both worlds at Stanford - academics and athletics. There are very few places where you can find that. It's just great to find that Stanford is one of those schools who can give you that opportunity."
That point hit home during lunch, when the Junior Day attendees were addressed by some of Stanford's faculty.
"I liked the professors. The professors were great," Mangum exclaims. "I can't stress enough how they welcomed the football players. At a lot of schools, you have professors who kind of frown upon athletes because they tend to get special treatment. At Stanford, the professors were great."
Bringing recruits up close to the advantages of a school is the core mission of a Junior Day, but Mangum is looking for more than warm fuzzies. He is in search of his first scholarship offers, with most schools and coaches still on the fence for the linebacker recruit. Mangum played with his hand on the ground on the defensive line as a junior, so he has to prove to schools this year that he is a Division I-A athlete in the second level.
Mangum did not have a chance Sunday to meet with linebackers coach Andy Buh, who was in Hawaii. He did meet with Stanford defensive coordinator Scott Shafer.
"He's a great guy. A really nice guy. He said that he was very impressed. He's definitely looking forward to seeing me more, and you could tell that he was genuine," Mangum says of Shafer. "They're definitely interested. He said as far as offering right now, they have to make sure. Their dire need is for two outside linebackers, and I'm an inside 'backer. As soon as he gets the O.K. that he can have three linebackers, and he could take care of two outside needs plus an inside need, it should be a go."
The combine on Saturday put Mangum in front of a host of coaches in addition to Shafer, and his recruiting has seen an uptick since.
"It definitely helped. I got a lot of calls of coaches and defensive coordinators who were there," Mangum states. "They were very impressed and just want to go from here. A lot of things are going to break for me as far as offers coming in, by the latest, the first game of the season. But a lot of schools want me to come to their camps."
"I'm trying to narrow that down," he continues. "I know I'm going to go to Arizona State's one-day camp. I may be going to Stanford's. I'll probably be going to Georgia Tech's camp. I'll be going to Cal's camp for sure. I'm also going to USC's for sure."
"I want to go to the places that are interested in me," Mangum explains of those choices. "A lot of coaches just want to say, 'Come to camp. We'll go from there.' Sometimes they just say that to get another person attending. These schools feel different. A lot of it also is that these camps match my schedule. Summer ball is starting, so we're doing passing league and all of that. I don't want to miss what my team is doing, so it's balancing those two."
While some schools are waiting until they see his game film playing linebacker at the start of his senior season, there could be some news sooner for Mangum. Coaches who have been on the road and seen him this past month will soon convene and conference, and Mangum will make additional impressions at colleges' one-day camps soon in June. Stay tuned.
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