Vols Make Play for JC DT

Not every football prospect that goes the Junior College route is an academic refugee seeking sanctuary and a second chance at Division I gridiron glory.

Some are good students that were never offered by a Division I school and are trying to prove themselves as athletes as opposed to students. One such player is Hubron Fangupo of Mt. San Antonio Community College, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound run stopper who was overlooked coming out of Century High School in Santa Ana, Calif.

Of course part of the reason for that oversight was his commitment to a serve a two-year mission for the Latter Day Saints. Jonathan Mapu completed a similar mission after playing as a freshman (2003) and sophomore (2004) at UT before returning in 2007 to complete his college career.

"We didn't really have that good of a program there so no one really paid much attention to what we did," Fangupo told Scott Eklund of JC.com. "I went on my (LDS) mission and then when I came back, I knew some of the coaches here at Mt. SAC and they said they'd love to have me come up so that's why I'm here and I'm having a lot of fun." As a freshman last fall Fangupo proved he could hold his own in the trenches as he recorded 28 tackles with seven stops for losses and three sacks to earn First Team All-Mission Conference. After a two-year layoff that is a productive work especially for a player charged primarily with occupying blockers as much as shedding them. He should be able to make further strides this year now that he's is back in playing condition and working on his technique, quickness, agility and strength.

The big lineman runs a sub-5.0 time in the 40, bench presses 330 pounds and perform 24 reps with 225 pounds on the bench.

"I use my ‘get off' well and I usually can rip the blocker pretty well," Fangupo told Eklund. "I mean, I just want to get better and better and hopefully it will pay off in the end."

It's already paying off as Fangupo has collected several offers from big Division-I schools looking for help on the D-line. In fact, he is regarded by many analysts as the best JC defensive lineman in the country.

"We play a 4-3, but I can play almost anywhere on the defensive line," Fangupo said. "I can play nose or three-tech or tackle, I mean, whatever, as long as I'm in there doing what I love to do and playing and helping our team win." Among the schools to emerge as early favorites for Fangupo are Utah, Tennessee, Oregon and Arizona. However USC, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and LSU are each very interested in acquiring him. The Trojans sent coaches to a recent SAC practice to evaluate him further.

Playing time is important for a player who has spent four years waiting for the opportunity to compete at the Division-I level, but Fangupo wants the entire college experience.

"I'm just looking for a good situation," Fangupo said. "I want the whole experience, from the coaches, to the players, to the program, to the education. I mean, it's all about the experience and I want to play early if I can." Fangupo's value is enhanced by his status as a December graduate who can enroll in a school in time for off-season workouts and spring practice.

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