When G.A. Mangus was recruiting Tampa’s Jefferson High School a few years ago, he occasionally talked with a highly regarded quarterback named Stephen Garcia. But Mangus, being the offensive coordinator for Middle Tennessee State, knew he had no chance to land him.
Mangus saw a lot of Garcia’s games as he recruited and helped sign three of his Jefferson teammates. Yet without realizing it, Mangus was preparing for his next job: the quarterbacks coach at South Carolina and “shadow” to Garcia, to use coach Steve Spurrier’s words.
Mangus was hired at USC on Friday, the same day Garcia became the anointed starter for the 2009 season due to the departure of quarterback Chris Smelley.
Spurrier said Mangus signed a one-year deal.
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“He will be Stephen Garcia’s shadow here for the next six, eight months, whatever,” Spurrier said. “I think he’s ready to really help our team.”
Spurrier and Mangus are very familiar with each other. Mangus played at Florida from 1987-91, the final two seasons under Spurrier, then served as a Gators graduate assistant for three seasons. Spurrier quipped that Mangus — whose given name is George Alfred Mangus Jr. — was referred to as “G.A. G.A.”
After Florida, Mangus embarked on a coaching career at the Division III level, becoming the coach at Delaware Valley (Pa.) College. He went 35-12 there before moving on to MTSU three seasons ago.
Mangus has been calling plays for more than a decade, but he gives those duties up at South Carolina. His job now is to coach the quarterbacks, starting with the star-crossed Garcia.
“I think he just needs to play, and get reps,” Mangus said. “He hasn’t gone through any spring practice at this stage. And obviously he’s got a lot of work to do.”
Spurrier is known to be hands-on and demanding with his quarterbacks. Asked to describe his own style, Mangus said he is similar to Spurrier.
“It’s a position that you need to be demanding and accountable,” Mangus said. “I think it’s the most important position, and I just think that has to be understood, that there is an accountability in a lot of things that come when you’re the quarterback.”
At the same time, Mangus called himself a “high-energy” coach who wants to have fun, and wants his quarterbacks to have fun playing for him. He considers it a necessity for the position.
“I look at the intangibles first in a quarterback, before I look for can they throw through a brick wall,” Mangus said. “When those things are understood, the X and O portion, and all the physical attributes, all those things will come if there’s an understanding on how to handle the position. The preparation is key, and with that comes responsibility.”
During his college career, Mangus never started. He spent his two seasons under Spurrier as “a good practice player” who watched Shane Matthews guide the Gators to an SEC title. Mangus did play at the end of blowout wins.
Spurrier said the four seasons at Delaware Valley “shows that he’s a real coach.” And Mangus, asked about taking on the daunting task of turning around USC’s quarterback situation, harkened to that head coaching job.
“You know what, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be near as fun. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I was crazy when I took that Delaware Valley job,” Mangus said. “And the satisfaction of winning there, going deep in the playoffs, was a lot more fun when it was a daunting task. And I think any true competitor would tell you that, I believe.
“I enjoy a challenge, I look forward to a challenge, and I look forward to working with these quarterbacks.”
Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.