Tommy Mangino joins father at ISU, leads wide receivers


Courtesy of ISU Athletics

Tommy Mangino joins his father Mark on the coaching staff. Mangino is the new wide receiver coach while his father is the new offensive coordinator. 

Alex Gookin

Tommy Mangino has been following his father, Mark, around on the football field for as long as he can remember. Calling plays for Geneva College in Pennsylvania, Mark let his three-year-old son follow him out to the huddle.

The pint-sized Tommy was told to stand right behind his father so he wouldn’t get run over.

“Sure enough, a guy comes running over and he steps up and I get KO’d,” Mangino said of that day. “So that was my first memory of being on the football field.”

The tumble didn’t keep the young Mangino off the sidelines for long. His love for the game continued through high school and into college where he served as a graduate assistant at Arkansas.

ISU head coach Paul Rhoads hired Mangino as wide receivers coach after hiring his father, Mark, to take over offensive coordinator duties. All the years of standing behind his father in practice now comes full-circle.

“I was kind of a junkie as a kid and every chance I got I’d go to practice. It’s all I knew,” Tommy said. “It’s fun, now you don’t feel like you’re going to work every day. It’s not really work.”

The coaching connection offers some unity to an almost completely new offensive coaching staff. However, Mangino will be working with a receiving corps that has some significant playing experience.

Only one receiver from last season’s squad leaves the Cyclones, with leading receiver Quenton Bundrage and key contributors Jarvis West and Tad Ecby coming back to lead a long list of returning receivers in 2014.

“We’re very talented. A lot of people don’t know about some of the guys that we have,” Bundrage said. “I’m excited to see exactly what we’re going to do this season.”

Bundrage led the Cyclones with 676 yards receiving and nine touchdowns, with a memorable 97-yard touchdown grab against Texas — the longest play from scrimmage in school history. Mangino said Bundrage and the rest of the group need to improve consistency to take the next step as a receiving corps.

Another key contributor will be West, a senior who is coming off an injury-riddled junior season. West was establishing himself as one of the best kick and punt returners in the league as well as a solid pass catcher before being sidelined with an medial collateral ligament [MCL] injury halfway through the season.

West says he’s fully recovered and is trying to become a more vocal leader in the locker room.

With the Mangino leading the group, players are also getting used to the new leadership from the coaching perspective.

“I think some guys are still trying to get used to him as a coach and he’s still trying to figure some of the guys out as players but I really like him right now,” Bundrage said. “He delivers his message as far as how the game is played differently. He’s more concrete with things.”

The message is much like that of his father’s — something he learned at a young age standing behind him in the huddle.

This time, however, he says he has a different plan than when he was younger standing near the huddle.

“I try to stay away as far as I can,” Mangino said.