Michigan State notes: New running back Jaren Mangham embraces competition
East Lansing — Jaren Mangham was wearing Michigan State gear on Wednesday, sitting at a table in the media room at Spartan Stadium talking about playing at a program he grew up watching, doing so for a coach he already knows well and with the added bonus of playing with his little brother.
It’s fair to say, things have come full circle for the running back out of Detroit who transferred to Michigan State from South Florida in January and officially signed with the Spartans on Wednesday.
“It's kind of crazy,” said Mangham, brother of sophomore safety Jaden Mangham. “I go out to Colorado and then who would have known that I’d be right back at Michigan State with the same exact coach and my little brother on his (the team). It was kind of a unique moment. I really didn't get to digest it until after it already happened, and I just sat back and just really thought, like, ‘Wow, it really has been a long journey.’
“I’m just excited to be back home, and that's really what I'm grateful for.”
Michigan State was nearly home for Mangham when he was being recruited out of Cass Tech, where he capped his career in 2018. But a new coach had just been hired at Colorado, and that coach — Mel Tucker — made Mangham a priority.
So, the four-star prospect headed west and ended up carrying the ball 107 times for 441 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2019 while catching 10 passes for 41 yards to earn freshman All-American honors
By early in 2020, though, Tucker had left to become Michigan State’s coach and Mangham stayed behind, playing in four games during the COVID-shortened season. So, he decided then it was time to move on, entering the transfer portal.
Michigan State was a consideration, but Mangham ended up at USF where he started eight of 12 games in 2021, rushing for a team-leading 671 yards while scoring 15 rushing touchdowns. Last fall, Mangham played in four games, preserving his redshirt, and entered the portal in December.
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Before long, he was once again chatting with Tucker.
“He’s kind of like family,” Mangham said of this discussion with Tucker. “It really wasn't an ordinary recruiting talk, just trying to get to know each other. It’s like we never skipped a beat. He walked in, we shared a couple of laughs and got to business. I love what I heard, loved what my brother told me about the program and that's really just how it went.”
It was all Mangham, who had two seasons of eligibility remaining, needed to hear. He was eager to jump into a Michigan State running back room that included fellow transfer Nathan Carter (UConn), as well as veterans Jalen Berger, Harold Joiner, Jordon Simmons and Davion Primm.
“I looked at this room as a challenge,” Mangham said. “I always love having a great room and I never feared competition or anything like that. I feel like competition builds character and I feel like it also helps everyone in the room get better.
“So having a great RB room like that, it’s just going to help push everyone further and help everyone reach that next level.”
Mangham will wear No. 1 as a Spartan, the same as his brother. You can do what when one brother plays on offense and one on defense. Of course, that also potentially leads to some interesting matchups in practice.
For a pair of brothers who never have played together, nor against one another, it could lead to some intense collisions. Who would win?
“I love you Jaden, but no comment,” Mangham said with a laugh. “In every family you have that little sibling rivalry. You’re always try to one-up your little sibling. But it's all out of love. I still love him at the end of the day, but we always joke around and stuff like that.”
Back in the Big Ten
While a handful of early enrollees and transfers are getting used to life at Michigan State, the same can be said for defensive line coach Diron Reynolds, who last week was hired to replace Marco Coleman.
Reynolds, who has an extensive NFL background and coached the defensive line the last seven years at Stanford, is eager to get his hands on a talented defensive line that added multiple pieces this offseason in recruiting and through the transfer portal.
“When I got to see the roster once I got up here and did the interview, I felt like they have a really good foundation,” Reynolds said. “There are some younger guys that are coming along and they've been able to get some older guys from other places to kind of gel together. It seems like they have really good leadership qualities and look like they've done a good job with the roster.
“I'm just trying to figure out how the pieces are gonna fit at this point. At some point you'll have emerging leaders and leadership with the younger guys. I do appreciate with this group that all these guys are eager to please and they're eager to learn. So I'm really excited.”
While it’s been a while since Reynolds was in Big Ten country — he coached at Indiana in 2001 — he does have family from Michigan and their allegiances to the state’s top two programs has helped him get a crash course in the culture at Michigan State.
“Half of them pull for that school down the street and the other half pull for Michigan State,” Reynolds said. “So I’ve got some proud Spartan fans in my family. I’m definitely looking forward to wearing that logo and seeing what it's all about. I'm still learning the culture and I'm asking a bunch of questions, but I'm excited to learn about it.”
It was signing day on Wednesday and Michigan State did add one new player, three-star defensive back Philipp Davis of Lake Wales, Florida. He was offered by Michigan State in early January and chose the Spartans over an offer from Toledo.
More: Trieu: Michigan State football sets sights on under-the-radar defensive back
He becomes the fourth defensive back in the class, joining cornerbacks Chance Rucker, Eddie Pleasant III and Sean Brown, who all signed in December.
The Spartans closed out the 2023 class with four transfers who already had committed but officially signed on Wednesday. That group includes Mangham, long snapper Mason Arnold from Ohio State, linebacker Aaron Alexander (Belleville) from UMass and tight end Jaylan Franklin from Wisconsin.
Windmon reaches plea deal
Senior linebacker Jacoby Windmon entered a pre-plea diversion program during a virtual hearing Wednesday at 15th District Court in Ann Arbor. Windmon is charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from the postgame altercation at Michigan Stadium in October.
Under the plan, Windmon will work with the probation office on a plan that would eventually lead to his charges being dismissed. It’s the same plan four others involved in the altercation agreed to last week, including Angelo Grose, Itayvion Brown, Brandon Wright and Justin White. Zion Young also has been charged with a misdemeanor and is scheduled to appear in court Monday.
Defensive back Khary Crump, who was charged with a felony for swinging his helmet at a Michigan player, pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors and was sentenced Tuesday to 12 months of probation and 80 hours of community service as part of the Holmes Youthful Training Act.