"I'm in my dorm room and I've been here for four days," Tshimanga said. "Today all my new teammates are coming back to school and I can't wait to be around them."
Tshimanga, who was recruited and offered by schools like Texas A&M, Arkansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Tech and Auburn, will be joined by other newcomers in Rochester, Ill., quarterback Wes Lunt, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College tight end Blake Jackson, and former Tulsa Washington and Navarro J.C. defensive tackle Calvin Barnett.
This is the last chance to catch a word with the newcomers as once they are on campus and in school they will be subject to the no interview policy for first-year players by Cowboy coach Mike Gundy.
Tshimanga is a very uplifting story as he and his mother and siblings lived in and out of a car and shelters for close to six years after his father left the family.
Tshimanga said he first played organized football in the last game of the season of his eighth grade year while he was with a foster family. He immediately showed the ability to play and from that point on was given the opportunity. He told his mother he was going to use that football opportunity on and off the field to make something of himself and to help her out. This is a young man that is very enthusiastic that all Cowboy fans will be rooting for. His story and his ambition make it very easy.
Lunt recently played in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl and was in Phoenix with his parents while the Cowboys were there for the winning Fiesta Bowl effort over Stanford. Lunt said he made the decision to graduate at Rochester and enroll early at OSU after discussing it with Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Lunt has a really good arm and will be a welcome addition to the quarterback competition this spring with junior-to-be Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh.
The two junior college additions come in with All-American honors. Blake Jackson earned his with 62 receptions for 934 yards and 16 touchdowns at Scottsdale Community College, the Cowboys practice home during the Fiesta Bowl week. Jackson, who spoke to us while in a layover in Denver on his way to Stillwater, didn't see a practice and watched the game from a hotel room in Miami, Fla.
"I went on a cruise," Jackson said. "It was great. I went to St. Martin and St. Lucia in the Carribean. It was a lot of fun, but I watched every play of the game in my hotel room in Miami. I didn't get back for another day, but all my friends were at the game. It was great and I can't wait to get there and get started."
Calvin Barnett has been at home for the holidays and was in Stillwater for an official visit during the Cowboys bowl preparation at home before leaving. Barnett has said his time at Navarro really helped him grow up, but he is really looking forward to playing his football closer to home for the next two years. Slimmed down to 285 pounds and extra quick, Barnett would seem to be in a position to really help the Cowboys depth on the defensive line.
All four get to begin their journey with classes and with orientation to the off-season program with Rob Glass and his staff this week.