For the first time since he was six years old, Grambling red-shirt freshman Freddie Mango is not playing football in the Fall.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference announced in July the postponement of all scheduled fall contests along with SWAC championships due to continuing concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In the sport of football the plan includes a seven-game conference schedule beginning with an eight-week training period in January 2021. Each member institution will play a total of six conference games (four divisional/two non-divisional) with the option to play one non-conference game.
Mango, a former standout at Delta Charter, walked on at Grambling State last year and earned playing time and an eventual scholarship.
Mango, who is currently living in DeRidder, returns to class on September 17. He is currently working for a tree cutting business, which is particularly busy at this time after Hurricane Laura decimated the Gulf Coast near Lake Charles. DeRidder is 55 miles north of Lake Charles.
"We do have a number of trees down and houses damaged," Mango said. "We lost power for about two weeks."
Mango said he is actually happy with the postponement.
"I actually think it's great," Mango said. "It gives me a chance to develop myself more as a person and football player. I'm not complaining. I've been going to the gym two times a day. It takes discipline, and a lot of people get discouraged and slack off, play video games or just sit around eating. So I see this as a big opportunity for me."
Grambling opens its season on February 27, 2021 against Prairie View A&M in the State Fair Classic in Dallas on opening weekend.
On March 6, Grambling hosts Jackson State for the first game of the season at Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium, followed by a bye week. The Tigers return for another home game on March 20 as Arkansas-Pine Bluff comes to town. On March 27 the Tigers hit the road to face Alabama A&M, followed by a trip to Texas Southern. After another off week, Grambling and Southern face off in the annual Bayou Classic which is set to take place on April 17 in New Orleans.
The 2021 SWAC Football Championship is set for May 1.
"It is kind of weird that our first game was supposed to be Sunday in Atlanta against South Carolina State," Mango said, referring to the 16th annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge. "But I look at it as more time to get my mind ready and get in better shape."
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Mango rushed for more than 1,000 yards his junior year at Delta Charter.
In his senior year two years ago, Mango twisted his ankle in the season-opener against Homer.
And then in the fourth game of the season, Mango pulled a hamstring against Oak Grove.
Mango, an honor student at Delta Charter, made the President's List last year at Grambling. That was a big reason the former walk-on earned a scholarship for this upcoming season.
"Last year was so cool," said Mango, who finished with a solo tackle on the year. "It was one of the greatest experiences I've had playing football. The atmosphere at the college levels awesome. And when I got on the field I looked up into the stands and it was overwhelming. I'm looking forward to this season."
her kids. I would love to be a coach,"