Last season should have been Thad Mangum’s last in college, one in which he could put the finishing touches on a successful career at Wofford.
That was until he suffered a knee injury in the first game of the season, an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the year.
After being granted an extra year of eligibility, Mangum elected to transfer in search of a new program to play his final season, while also being able to pursue his master’s degree.
After five years with the Terriers, the 6-foot-2-inch defensive tackle came to USF as the new guy, fresh off injury with plenty to prove.
It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Wofford, however.
“It was real tough, I just had to keep on praying about it,” Mangum said. “And talking to my family, talking to my parents, talking to God.
“It was tough leaving Wofford, but I was blessed to have the opportunity to take an extra year, and grad transfer, and [be] able to pursue my master’s, as well as be able to play football.”
In his time at Wofford, Mangum racked up 86 tackles and seven sacks through 37 games.
The majority of that production came in his 2018 campaign, where he started all 13 games and ended the season with 51 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Despite his long tenure and accomplishments at Wofford, he still had eligibility remaining.
He redshirted his freshman year but went on to play more than 10 games in each of the following three seasons. His final year was interrupted by the knee injury he sustained in the first game of the season against South Carolina State.
Mangum explained how the USF coaching staff played an integral role in his decision to join the Bulls.
“I liked coach Scott, what he was trying to do here,” Mangum said. “I watched coach Bowers as a kid play at Clemson, so I thought it would be exciting to be able to learn from him, and I just wanted to come in and try to make myself compete at the highest level I can.”
Mangum’s USF career has kicked off quite well. Through three games, he’s made 16 tackles with two for loss, as well as forcing and recovering a fumble.
However, Mangum still has another level to reach, as he put it.
“I’ve got to take it to another level, I’ve got to be able to finish more,” Mangum said. “I’ve just got to continue to focus on finishing every single play.”
His performance thus far can be attributed to his positive attitude, according to defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer.
“I’ve had some very fortunate transfer situations come in and hit well,” Spencer said. “They hit well because it’s the young man’s attitude when he comes in, and he [Mangum] had that attitude of ‘I’m coming into this family, it’s up to me to please.’”
Spencer also touched on the qualities that make Mangum successful.
“Thad is a pleaser, and that’s from the effort that he gives, to the preparation that he gives,” Spencer said. “He came in to serve, he came in to contribute.”
Mangum attributes his work ethic to what he was taught as a child.
“Nothing is going to be given to you, that’s what I was always taught as a kid,” Mangum said. “You got to work for everything that you want, nothing is going to be given.
“Coming in, I knew I was going to be a new guy, and I knew I had to gain the respect of my peers. The only way you can gain the respect of your peers is by putting in the work, making sure you’re paying attention to details, and just giving your all every single play.”
USF has started to feel like a home for Mangum, and his relationship with his teammates mirrors the relationships he had with the players at Wofford.
“My relationship with everybody has grown,” Mangum said. “I feel at home, like when I was at Wofford. Able to just joke around with the guys, and just be myself.
“It’s been real fun.”
Now, Mangum is no longer looked at as the new guy.
“That newness with him, as him being a transfer, that wore with us so long ago,” Spencer said. “Now he’s just Thad, the defensive tackle getting ready for a game.”