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Jonathan Kongbo Set to Switch Positions

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Several Tennessee players moved positions during spring practices under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Alontae Taylor, Tyler Byrd (though he eventually moved back), Greg Emmerson, Princeton Fant, and Darrell Taylor are just a few of the Vols who went from one position to another during the spring. But one player who didn’t switch positions who many thought might be a candidate for such a move was defensive end Jonathan Kongbo.

Well now it appears that Kongbo will, in fact, be at a new position for his final year as a Vol.

Kongbo tweeted out on Friday afternoon that he is “excited” to make the move from defensive end to linebacker in Tennessee’s new 3-4 defensive scheme. The aforementioned Darrell Taylor made a similar move this spring when he switched from his defensive end position he had played at for the last three years to outside linebacker under Pruitt.

This won’t be the first time Kongbo has switched positions while at Tennessee, though. In the middle of the 2016 season, Butch Jones elected to move Kongbo inside to play at defensive tackle because several Vols had suffered injuries at that unit. Kongbo didn’t stay there, however, and he moved back to defensive end for the 2017 season where he finished third on the team with 2.5 sacks.

Tennessee’s linebacking corps recently had some drama after Darrin Kirkland Jr. announced he was transferring out of UT’s football program only to come back and rejoin the team a handful of days later. The Vols will likely feature a starting four of Taylor, Kirkland, Daniel Bituli, and Quart’e Sapp when in a 3-4 set, but Kongbo will likely compete hard for a starting spot somewhere in that group.

Though he didn’t specify in his tweet, it’s likely Kongbo will be moving to outside linebacker. But with him measuring in at around 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, it’s also possible he could be moving to inside linebacker unless he trims down some.

Kongbo was part of the 2016 signing class for Tennessee, and he was rated as the No. 1 junior college player in the country by the 247Sports Composite rankings. He had committed to the Vols in 2015 but then decommitted in early January of 2016. The Vols put an all-out effort to try and win him back, and he ended up signing with the Vols after all.

Hopes were high for Kongbo as he came into the 2016 season, but thus far he has largely failed to deliver on the hype. He’s shown flashes of brilliance — such as returning an interception 59 yards for a touchdown against Missouri in 2016 and tying his career-high in tackles against Florida in 2017 — but he’s ultimately been very inconsistent during his Tennessee career.

In 24 career appearances, Kongbo has totaled 40 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, an interception, a pass defended, and a touchdown off that interception.

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