KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Bob Shoop is worked up, and he’s excited, eager for his defense to take a bite out of the competition this season.
So when Tennessee football’s second-year defensive coordinator took the stage last Friday, Shoop wasn’t holding anything back, and the player who drew the greatest praise from him was defensive end Jonathan Kongbo.
Kongbo was the No. 1-ranked junior college player in the nation entering the 2016 season, but he was largely a bust, stuck behind ends Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen much of the season.
Shoop made it clear at the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio that he expects Kongo, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound redshirt junior, to emerge as a star player this season.
“Kongbo is on a mission, man, that guy has worked hard, had a good bowl game and worked as hard as he could since January, getting stronger, faster and more explosive,” Shoop said. “The three guys at defensive end we’re excited about are Kongbo, Darrell Taylor and Kyle Phillips, the fourth end going into camp would be Deandre Johnson, he had a good spring.
“What we learned last year, and the lesson I learned personally, is you can never have enough guys. We have to continue to develop depth, because in this league you never know. There’s so much attrition.”
The big question for Tennessee football is if players like Kongbo are as good as their star ratings implied.
Tennessee Football Podcast