Bombers unleashing Canadian defender Jonathan Kongbo on the CFL

Photo credit Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics
Photo courtesy: Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

Jonathan Kongbo is about to be unleashed on the CFL.

The six-foot-five, 255-pound beast is fully healthy and ready for his pro football debut.

“I expect he’ll do whatever we ask him to do and I think he’ll do it with a level of physicality and speed. The sheer physics behind it should suggest that he could win some battles,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said.

Winnipeg signed the University of Tennessee product to a three-year contract, according to 3DownNation’s John Hodge. Every single team had a first-round grade on Kongbo heading into the 2019 CFL draft, but a torn ACL suffered in October during his senior season with the Volunteers created uncertainty. But the Bombers chose him fifth overall.

“I was definitely happy that the Bombers picked me up,” Kongbo said. “I could play it all. I could play linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, so I could do it all.”

Kongbo, surprisingly, went unselected in the 2019 NFL draft and didn’t even sign an undrafted free agent contract or accept a rookie mini-camp invite. Most Canadian franchises expected Kongbo to be in the NFL.

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 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.

The Bombers view Kongbo as a rare prospect and the blue and gold along with the rest of the league are about to see if he can realize his potential.