Jonathan Kongbo headed to Knoxville for Vandy-Vols

One of the fastest rising junior college players in the country has Tennessee in his mix of schools.

If you don't know who Jonathan Kongbo is, it's safe to say you'll get to know him very soon. The Scout four-star defensive end has shot up recruiting rankings  in recent weeks as he accumulates offers and takes visits around the country. Kongbo, who plays at Arizona Western College, is looking to make the jump from junior college to FBS program, and he'll have no shortage of suitors. 

The class of 2016 product has 14 offers already from schools like Alabama, Nebraska, Auburn and Oregon, among others, and Tennessee has inserted itself right in the middle of his recruitment process.

"Tennessee was actually one of the first schools to offer me," Kongbo told InsideTennessee. "They were my third offer." 

Kongbo's main recruiter on the Vols' staff is running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Robert Gillespie, who talks almost daily with his valued target. The two have developed a solid relationship since Tennessee first offered, and it's culminated in Kongbo taking an official visit to Knoxville Saturday to watch Tennessee take on rival Vanderbilt in the last regular season game of the year. The 6-foot-6, 256-pound prospect is coming off a recent visit to Arizona where he watched the Wildcats stun Utah 37-30 on Nov. 14.

"Coach Gillespie is a real good guy," Kongbo told IT. "We talk every other day. He calls me. He's real down-to-earth." 

The flash of Tennessee's facilities won't have much of an impact on the rising star, though. Instead of glimmering new indoor practice fields or stadiums with the latest upgrades, Kongbo is mainly searching for a place where he has developed a good relationship with the coaching staff and players, as well as a place where he can play right away.

"The way I figure it, everywhere you go in the nation, the facilities are top-notch," Kongbo said. "It's really not one of the things I'm looking at ... I'm looking for a family environment. That's key. The second thing I'm looking for is somewhere where I can make an impact." 

Kongbo, originally from the Congo, admits he didn't know much about the Vols before they offered. That will surely change after this weekend.

"I'm real excited," he said about his upcoming official visit. "I can't wait to see Tennessee and hear Rocky Top. Coach Gillespie has told me some great things. He said he'll understand what he's talking about when I get there." 

So who else is near the top of his recruitment list at the moment other than Tennessee?

"Definitely Rutgers and Oregon State," Kongbo told IT. "They're definitely up there as well. I've created great relationships with those coaches. It's been exciting to think about."

The Arizona Western star has college coaches lining up to make their pitch, as they know what kind of impact he can have on their defenses as soon as he makes his college choice.

"He's a guy who, every school in the country, if they need a defensive end player, this is a guy that you should be targeting," Scout recruiting analyst Greg Powers said in his evaluation of Kongbo. "He's an instant impact, come right in, make an impact defensive end."


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