Jonathan Kongbo could be in line to stay at defensive tackle for Tennessee.
The IT staff projected the Arizona Western College product as a three-technique before he arrived on Rocky Top but Kongbo fought a move inside from defensive end. After the injuries to Paul Bain, Alexis Johnson, Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle paired with the removal of Danny O'Brien, the staff and specific players asked Kongbo to contribute at D-tackle. The move became that much more vital when end-turned-tackle LaTroy Lewis got hurt as well. Kongbo agreed to contribute inside and played there almost exclusively in late November.
“Jonathan Kongbo, over the last three weeks, played probably his best football of the year once he embraced and moved into playing the three-technique," Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said Wednesday. "I’m very, very proud of him and appreciative of that.”
It sounds like Kongbo at defensive tackle could be permanent.
“I get excited about the thought of Jonathan Kongbo in his second year as a three-technique,” Shoop said.
The former Scout five-star prospect finished his first regular season at Tennessee with seven tackles (four solo), including one tackle for loss. He did not have a sack but did have an interception against Missouri that he returned 59 yards for a touchdown. He also had five quarterback hurries.
Kongbo was viewed as one of the prizes of Tennessee's 2016 signing class with Butch Jones' staff holding off late charges from Florida State, Mississippi and Southern California.