When Mark Mangino makes the move to Lawrence as Kansas University's head football coach, he will have a budding athlete in tow.
Mangino's son, Tommy Mangino, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior, played varsity football and baseball at Norman (Okla.) North High. Next week the younger Mangino will end his fall semester at Norman North before weighing his high school options in Lawrence.
"I'm not close to making a decision at all," Mangino said from his home in Norman, Okla. "People have said good things about Lawrence High and Free State. I want to find out for myself. I want to do research on both schools."
Tommy plans to visit both schools the last week of December before making a decision. He met LHS football coach Dirk Wedd at last week's press conference in which his father was named KU's head coach. He has yet to meet anyone from Free State's staff.
He was a quarterback for Norman North, a Class 6A program (Oklahoma's largest class), during their 1-8 season in the fall. The Timberwolves ran an offense similar to Oklahoma University. Norman North ran a no-huddle offense with a four-receiver set and Mangino threw for a "little more than 1,000 yards." Last spring, he played third base, shortstop and catcher for Norman North's baseball team.
"Academics come first," Mangino said. "I also want to go where good teams are and where there are good, positive players."
Mangino's first love is baseball. According to his high school baseball coach, Shannon Enfield, Mangino batted between .270-.275 with 20 RBIs and a couple of home runs his sophomore season, his first year at Norman North after transferring from Manhattan.
"I really want to play baseball in college," said Mangino, whose team went 19-26 last year. "I can play shortstop, third base or catcher. I really prefer to catch and play shortstop. Third base was a position I was thrown into last year because I was struggling at shortstop. I put a lot of pressure on myself and was making mental errors. Coach put me at third to settle me down and it helped me."
Enfield believes catcher is Mangino's best position.
"We've had a nice player behind the plate for us," Enfield said. "We expected him to catch his senior year for us. He's a good athlete. He's not real fast when he runs, but he's deceptive.
"He probably has more passion for baseball than football. His dad is a really passionate baseball fan. He talks about the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late 1950s and early '60s."
Though understanding the reason behind the impending transfer, Norman North football coach Paul Potter hated to see Tommy go.
"We were looking forward to a great senior season from him," said Potter, who noted that Mangino power cleaned 225 pounds (an explosive lift from the ground to the shoulders) during a weight session on Monday. "He's still working out with the team. We feel like we're going to be a playoff team next year and we feel like he could have thrown for 2,000 yards.
"He'll be real popular with the kids and makes friends easy. He's a tough kid. We weren't very good on the offensive line because we lost everybody from the year before and he got sacked several times. He took his share of knocks."
As a coach's son, Tommy has become accustomed to moving. He will be attending his third high school in less than three years. He attended Norman North for just 1 1/2 years after going one year to Manhattan.
"I don't really mind it," he said of the moving. "It'll be good for me. It'll make me stronger and make me more social. I'll get to know more people. It's sad leaving friends. I told all my friends I'll keep in touch. I told my Manhattan friends that I'd keep in touch and I have. It's not the end of the world."
Tommy said he never considered staying in Norman to complete high school. In 1999-2000, he, his sister, Samantha, and mother, Mary Jane, remained in Manhattan after his father left Bill Snyder's coaching staff at Kansas State to join Bobby Stoops in Oklahoma.
"I know what my sister went through," Tommy recalled. "I didn't want to do that. I want to be with my dad. We like to be together. We like talking baseball and football. I don't want my family to be separated for 18 months. I told my dad I wanted to leave at semester and wanted to jump in somewhere in Lawrence my junior year."
Potter said Tommy would be a good fit at either Lawrence high school.
"Tommy's a good one," Potter said. "He's a tough kid. He'll take some shots, get back up and go compete. He's a competitor and wants to win. Whichever high school gets him will be thrilled. He's a team player."