Auburn, Ala.--When you look up the photo of prototypical offensive tackle in a football reference book you would likely find a guy who looks a whole lot like Auburn redshirt sophomore Prince Tega Wanogho Jr..
Coming to Auburn as a defensive end after playing both defense and offense at Edgewood Academy, Tega has gained more than 50 pounds since his final prep season and finds himself in a battle for the starting left tackle job for the Tigers.
Playing defense his first season on the Plains before making a move to offense last summer, Tega is still shy of having a full year of offensive tackle under his belt, but Coach Gus Malzahn said you can see him making strides with every practice.
“You can tell Prince is further along than he was last fall,” Malzahn said. “Even when we had our scrimmages around bowl practice you could tell he’s more confident.
"I think he’s starting to get comfortable playing tackle and it takes a while," Malzahn noted. “I think he’s starting to be more reactive and not have to think about things. You can see that with his technique and his footwork and really with his eyes. Just the way he carries himself.”
Nobody gets to see as much of Tega in action as fellow left tackle Darius James. Auburn’s starter at the position last season for the final eight games, the redshirt senior said he’s seen some great things from his competition and expects big things from him down the road.
“Prince Tega’s been pushing me a lot because he’s gotten a lot better than he was because he was a raw talent,” James said. “Now that he’s honed in on one position, he’s on the same ride that I am, and he’s just getting better every day and he’s pushing me to get better every day.
"He’s agile. He can move around. He’s really athletic, which reminds me of myself. He’s strong. When he gets a hold of you, you’re probably not getting off the block.”
With two-thirdsf of spring practice remaining, Tega’s battle to win the starting left tackle job is still very much in progress. Malzahn said that no matter what happens this go-around they feel good about his future for the Tigers.
“Just from a skill set standpoint, he’s a very good athlete,” the head coach said. “Just learning the position and it takes a awhile. It takes a while for guys who have played the position all their life once they get to college, but I’m real pleased with where he’s at.”