When Tennessee DL Jonathan Kongbo was moved from defensive end to defensive tackle last season, it was a big change.
The redshirt sophomore struggled at times and didn’t make as big of an impact as he would have liked.
However, according to RockyTopInsider.com, the junior lineman is ready for whatever comes his way this fall:
“I fought (moving inside) for a while,” Kongo said on Friday, “but once I did it, it wasn’t actually too bad. I told Coach Jones I could do it again this year.
“I think the fear of not playing from the side came from me not really knowing what was going on. But with a year under my belt, I feel a lot more comfortable.”
Kongbo said he learned a lot from watching star DE Derek Barnett work during the 2016 season, citing his persistence as a quality he wants to emulate this fall:
“There were times in life when things weren’t always going my way or I wasn’t having what I wanted at times,” Kongo said. “But I want to keep working and not to get too down or too hard on myself and look at the positives.
“I remember last year Derek (Barnett) didn’t have a sack until about the fourth game, against Florida I believe. And that just showed me that you have to keep working and be more persistent and not let little things bother you.”
Indeed, Barnett didn’t have a sack until Week 4 against the Gators last year, when he recorded two. He then went on a tear and finished the season with 13 sacks to pass Reggie White on the school’s all-time sacks list.
Clearly, Kongbo was impressed by his teammate’s drive and passion, so it’ll be interesting to see what he’s able to do in Knoxville this season.