Versatile Canadian defender Jonathan Kongbo fighting back to elite status

Despite a major knee injury, multi-talented defender Jonathan Kongbo still has the attention of NFL and CFL teams.

The Surrey, B.C. native suffered torn knee ligaments – ACL and MCL – against Auburn University last October, which ended his senior season prematurely. Kongo was at the University of Tennessee pro day on March 14 to be measured by NFL scouts and bench press, recording 20 reps of 225 pounds.

Photo credit: Maury Neipris/Tennessee Athletics
Photo credit: Maury Neipris/Tennessee Athletics

Kongbo played 30 games – 17 starts – over three seasons with the Volunteers in the SEC (Southeastern conference) as a linebacker and defensive lineman amassing 51 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions including a 50-yarder returned for a touchdown and two knockdowns. He won the 2018 John Stucky award as Tennessee’s best performer in the weight room.

Coming out of Holy Cross high school in B.C. as a three-sport athlete, Kongbo was highly touted in basketball and track along with football. He accepted a scholarship to the University of Wyoming, although he redshirted during the 2014 season and then transferred to Arizona Western college.

After gaining a reputation as the No. 1 junior college defensive line prospect while in Arizona, Kongbo received scholarships offers from Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, Washington, Ole Miss and Tennessee. The six-foot-six, 264-pounder chose the Volunteers.

Kongbo was the No. 1 ranked player on the CFL scouting bureau in September. Pro teams from both sides of the border have spoken to Kongo – including the New York Giants, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals – during the draft process. The six-foot-four, 256-pound Kongbo likes the way Chicago Bears All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack plays with speed and power.

Throughout his collegiate career, Kongo lined up a defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker spots, versatility that would be coveted in the NFL or CFL. Kongbo should get an NFL opportunity based on his film and well-built frame. But if the NFL doesn’t come calling, Kongbo would be the top talent available in the 2019 CFL draft.

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