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RTI Exclusive Interview With Jonathan Kongbo III


One look at Jonathan Kongbo’s highlight reel and it’s easy to see why he was rated the number-one JUCO player in the 2016 class and why he was sought after by some of the most prolific college football teams in the nation.

I recently caught up with the 5-star defensive end from Arizona’s Western College and was impressed with both his character and genuine excitement about being a Tennessee Volunteer.

Here is a transcription of the interview:

On when he knew UT was the place for him:

“I would have to say the Monday of signing week. I just knew in my heart Rocky Top was a good place for me. Considering I took all my visits, I really knew what was out there. At the end of the day Tennessee was the best choice for me.”

On where he’s at in the weight room:

“I surprised myself, kind of the advances that I’ve made during this offseason. Right now I weighed in yesterday at 280, 281 pounds and I ran a 4.69 40 and jumped 37 inches. Right now I’m benching 405 for three and squatting 605 for five (reps).”

On the relationships he already has with current Vols:

“Yeah, I got to come up for the spring game and you know, I got to spend some time with Derek Barnett before the spring game, going over a lot of things that we’ll see this year. And he just really – it really is down to the D-line to hold it down and everything will be able to come along then.”

On how he sees himself being utilized on the team:

“Well, Coach Stripling told me that seeing what I do on film, it won’t be hard for me to see the field. Coming in, I report in a couple weeks here, how my mentality is just you got to compete, you know? I know that’s one thing I kind of like about Tennessee is that we have a talented D-line and we have depth in it. I knew that I thrive in situations where I have to compete so I just knew it was the best fit for me. And Coach has said I could even slide in and play a little three technique in passing situations as well. So I’ll do a little bit of everything.”

On any goals he has this year: 

“Yeah, really with Shy and Kahlil and Derek and some of the other guys on the D-line, we’re just going to try to be the best defensive line in the nation in college football. And as a unit goal that’s really what I’ve gotten talking to the guys. Personal goal of myself is be the best teammate, work hard, and just kind of learn day by day and see where that goes. Really for myself I have high expectations for myself.”

On his favorite NFL player and who he models his game after:

“I really like Khalil Mack. I feel like he’s really aggressive at the point of attack. And kind of one thing I’ve realized my game and his are similar is the relentless effort. He’s really kind of all over the field, always where the ball is at. So Khalil Mack is a guy I really study a lot. And also another guy I like a lot – Mario Williams. I feel like he’s a big end as well. And I feel like we have a lot of similarities in our game.”

On the trash talk from Florida’s Jalen Tabor:

“Well I mean, I just kind of laughed at it because I know we’re going to beat Florida. I know we’re going to beat Alabama. We’re going to beat all those teams. So I’ll say right now, we’re going to beat every team we play next year. I just really laughed at it, especially the comments that Jalen made. It was funny. We’ll see what Jalen Hurd does to him though.”

On his final message:

“I mean, kind of the main thing is, if you want to be the best you got to beat the best. And we know Alabama won the national championship this year and the message that I’m sending to them is that ain’t no one around here scared of that. We’re coming for them. It’s football so once the pads are on, you’ve got to figure out how to win so we’ll see.”

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