College Pod: Mississippi State's Jake Mangum
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We have some sad but expected news for college baseball and MIssissippi State fans alike: The magical rally banana and #RallyYodel of the Bulldogs' famed 2018 run to Omaha aren't making a return this season, according to outfielder Jake Mangum.
"The banana and the yodel died out in 2018," Mangum said. "They were vital parts of the year, as hard as that is to believe. There was some magic to last year. I hate it fell short.”
Luckily though, Mangum is back for his senior year. And that's good news for Mississippi State fans dreaming of another run to the NCAA World Series.
The senior outfielder and core cog in the Bulldogs lineup joined Teddy Cahill on the Baseball America College Podcast to talk Mississippi State's fun run through the 2018 postseason, as well as what to expect in 2019 and the swirls of change surrounding the program.
"Everyone comes here for that same one goal," Mangum said. "We're here to win a national championship.
"Mississippi State is still looking for their first team national championship for any sport. It’s time we got that … It’s time. We’re going to do everything we can to bring that back to Starkville. Our baseball program has been so close so many times. A lot of people say it’s the only thing our program is missing.”
The Bulldogs came close in 2018. After a topsy-turvy start to the season, which included former head coach Andy Cannizaro resigning in February, Mississippi State rallied twice -- first just to get into the NCAA tournament, securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament with a sweep of Florida on the final weekend of the regular season, and then in regionals under interim head coach Gary Henderson.
An Elijah MacNamee walk-off homer sparked a Bulldogs run to Omaha filled with hysterics.
The school then hired Chris Lemonis to be the program's next head coach on a permanent basis over the summer.
Mangum has found himself in the center of things for Mississippi State since he arrived as a freshman. He led the Bulldogs in hitting as a junior (.354) and has played in three consecutive super regionals. He was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2018 Draft by the New York Mets, but opted to return for his senior year.
"I was happy with how the year went junior year, but the draft didn’t do go as planned," he said. "I’m happy as can be to come back. I’m going to get my degree in May and through with school and finishing up this fourth year. I’m really excited to be back. We have a lot of young guys who are really mature through the fall, which is cool to see.”
In addition to playing for his fourth coach in four years, Mangum will also play in the newly-renovated Dudy-Noble Field.
He talked on the podcast about enduring the two years of renovations, saying it was worth it, adding the $55 million project will make the stadium "the peak of college baseball."
"I can’t wait," he said.
"We’ve been using the makeshift track locker room since they tore it down the end of my sophomore year. It’s been a kind of crazy ride here at State. I think once the stadium is done, the guys who have been through a lot — four head coaches in four years, two stadiums in three years — it’s been a lot of change. I think once this stadium is done, the guys that have been here for a while like I have will really appreciate that feeling of the change is over. This is a place that’s here to stay for a longtime — it’s going to be the peak of college baseball, there’s no doubt about it.”
2019 Preseason Top 25 Preview: No. 9 Mississippi State
Mississippi State is leaving the rally banana behind in 2018, but it hopes a return trip to Omaha is in order.
Among the other topics Mangum discussed: His decision to not play summer ball this year, opting instead to work out and take extra classes toward his degree, the Ole Miss/Mississippi State rivalry, reflecting on last season, and his best year of fall ball yet.