Player Profile: Jonathan Yenga

Scott profiles Jonathan Yenga, who is expected to start at inside linebacker after starting the last eight games of 2013.

Jonathan Yenga Player Profile

Position: Inside/Outside Linebacker

Size: 6-2, 215

Year: Junior

High School: Trinity High School

Hometown: Euless, Texas

Recruitment: Out of high school, Yenga was an impressive athlete who held multiple BCS offers including Baylor, Oklahoma State, Arizona and Duke. As a senior, Yenga racked up 134 tackles, 7 TFL and three sacks after racking up 143 tackles as a junior. The Euless native was ranked as the No. 71 player in all of Texas by Scout and was an AP honorable mention All-State choice.

Before making his final commitment to SMU, Yenga committed and decommitted from SMU all in a matter of three months. In the end, Yenga decided to follow in his brother Youri’s footsteps and attend SMU.

2013 Review: As a sophomore in 2013, Yenga finally showed why there was so much hype surrounding him out of high school. The athletic linebacker moved from inside to outside linebacker and started the final eight games. Despite not starting until week five, Yenga still was fifth on the team with 49 total tackles and third on the team with 11 TFLs.

As an outside linebacker, Yenga learned quickly and made an impact both against the run and against the pass. His speed and athleticism made it easy for the sophomore to recover from any mistakes he made.

Grade: B+

2014 Outlook: With a thin group of inside linebackers, June Jones has penciled Yenga in as the starting MIKE linebacker, but don’t be surprised if the junior receives playing time both on the inside and outside.

Where Yenga plays most will depend on how fast transfers Cameron Nwosu and Caleb Tuiasosopo pick up the defensive playbook, and whether or not outside linebacker Robert Seals improves from his disappointing 2013 campaign. If Seals can make the jump to starter, expect Yenga to team up with Nwosu, Tuiasosopo, or even sophomore Nick Horton on the inside.

Because of his athleticism, Yenga makes up for most of his mistakes, but one area the linebacker will need to improve on is his tackling. Wrapping up has been a problem in the past, but Yenga has said in the past he’s always consistently working on that part of his game.

Now a junior, Yenga has had more than enough time to learn SMU’s schemes and should be a difference maker in 2014.

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