Pete Mangum
Pete Mangum
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Mangum Brings Focus And Fire To Carolina
Release: 10/03/2012

By Megan Walsh, UNC Athletic Communications

North Carolina tailback Giovani Bernard caught himself when he started complaining at a recent practice. One look at senior ram Pete Mangum was all it took to quiet Bernard.

"I saw Pete doing what he had to do, and I thought about what he's been through, what he's had to overcome as a walk-on player," Bernard said. "He's done everything the coaches asked him to and more.

"To be like that, to imagine myself like that, it makes me a better person, on and off the field."

Mangum, a Raleigh native, came to UNC with the intention of not just playing football, but playing it at the highest level. The 5-foot-10 Mangum was without scholarship offers from other schools but went into football tryouts determined to take advantage of his opportunity.

That same approach has now made him a starter on special teams, where he plays with a one-play-and-out mentality. It's Mangum's dedication to UNC football that makes him one of the players Bernard called the "heart and soul of this team."

"It's definitely been a journey, but that whole time it's really been a mindset," Mangum said. "When I came in I was determined to get on the field and play, and I've kept that mindset the whole time. It's really been hard work and really, effort and want to, to get out there."

After working his way up from the scout team four years ago, Mangum has been a scholarship player since last season.

He has been named special teams player of the week three times already this season, after victories against Elon and ECU and this week after another win against Idaho.

"You watch him on Saturdays, and it doesn't matter what unit he's on - he's going as hard as he can possibly go and he makes plays by doing that," coach Larry Fedora said. "He's got great football savvy. He's going to do things that help you win football games."

Against Idaho, Mangum's help came in the form of a blocked punt. That play came purely from Mangum's instincts, as he reacted to a missed block from the Vandals and put his football savvy to work.

His approach to the game also carries over to his approach in the classroom. The biomedical engineering major is finishing up his degree this semester after years of balancing quantum mechanics and physics with football practice.

His work ethic in both aspects of being a student-athlete has impressed quarterback Bryn Renner, who called Mangum the smartest player on North Carolina's roster.

"I've never seen a kid work and be in this building as much as Pete is," Renner said. "He never quit and never gave up, and he had all the opportunities to quit and give up. I call him Rudy because he's that fiery type of guy. He embraces that role, and he's one of the best special teams players I've ever seen."

Mangum one day wants to own his own engineering company. But for now, he's focused on his current full-time job: improving everyday for Carolina football.

"I feel like I must be doing something right," Mangum said of his path from being a walk-on to his prominent role on special teams. "I found a way that works for me, just working hard and trying to take every chance I get as a learning opportunity from all the coaches. Each one has a different viewpoint.

"I want to become the best player I can."

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