Freddie Mango was just getting into the preseason football mode when the plug was pulled because of Covid-19.
Grambling State, along with all other colleges, had to shut down their spring sports when the coronavirus began spreading.
“I was just getting in the mode,” said Mango, who played on special teams and at free safety for the Tigers as a true freshman last year. “We had just started spring practice. which is basically our preseason.”
Mango will be a red-shirt freshman this year.
“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.”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Mango rushed for more than 1,000 yards his junior year at Grambling.
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.
“Before spring Coach (Broderick) Fobbs called me in his office and told me I had a full ride starting in August,” Mango said. “He told me I had put in the work and took care of my academics. That was very exciting news for me.”
Mango has always been about academics being first.
“Making good grades has always been a goal of mine,” he said. “And it shows younger people you have to get grades to play sports.”
Mango made his first start at free safety against Jackson State in a 44-21 Tiger win.
“That was when we got our winning streak going,” Mango said, referring to the Tigers winning their next five games before losing in the regular season finale to Southern. “I love playing free safety. I’ve talked with my position coach and I’m expecting a lot of playing time next year.”
Mango, who rushed, said he does miss running the ball.
“I really enjoyed playing running back,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get the chance by picking off a pass. But right now I’m just anxious to get back in pads.”
Mango, who was All-State as a baseball player at Delta Charter as a junior, leading the team with a .432 batting average when the Storm played for a state championship in 2018, said he has thought about playing baseball at Grambling.
He batted .357 as a senior at Delta Charter.
“It’s something I may want to do down the road, but I would have to get the OK from my football coaches and the baseball coach,” he said. “But right now I’m concentrating on football.”
Mango said he thinks about college football being delayed by the virus this year all the time.
“It bothers me a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of distractions. It’s easy to get lazy, but I’m staying in the right mindset of staying in shape and staying on the right path. I’ve been doing mental reps, watching film and studying the playbook. I’ve been working out on my own.”
Mango retains the same dream of all college football players.
“I would love to make it to the professional level, that’s everyone’s dream,” Mango said. “But no matter what I want to help other kids. I would love to be a coach.”