|Sep 25, 2009|
After an outstanding high school career, current College of San Mateo DE/DT Matangi Tonga (6-4, 285) had offers from across the country and chose to go to BYU and saw playing time almost immediately when he arrived in Provo. Three years later, he's beginning to pick up where he left off with the Cougars and D-1 schools are showing some heavy interest...
Tonga was a handful for any offensive lineman he faced when he prepped at Aragon High School in San Mateo and had offers from all but two Pac 10 schools as well as schools from the Big 12, WAC and Mountain West.
"He could have gone anywhere, but he chose to go to BYU because of his religion and I think he did pretty well there," CSM defensive coordinator Tim Tulloch told JCFootball.com recently. "He got four or five sacks as a freshman and his line coach at BYU told me he would have been the best defensive lineman on their team if he had come back for his sophomore season."
However, that season never happened and now Tonga is trying to pick up the pieces of what was once a very promising football career.
"After my freshman season, things just didn't work out for me there," Tonga admits. "I just wanted to get a fresh start and after a while (almost three years) I wanted to re-start my football career and they (the CSM staff) gave me a chance to get back out and get back on my feet."
One would think three years off would diminish the technique and skills of a player, but that isn't the case with the toned lineman.
"He's just a physical presence, wherever we put him," Tulloch said. "We got him in January and we were thrilled. You don't see many guys that can do what he can do at 285 pounds. He ran a 4.67 this spring and he's just a load with how quick he is. He's a devastating player. He can rush from the outside or we can move him inside and play him over the nose.
"I think he'd be a great three-technique in a 4-3 scheme, but he plays mostly at end for us because we play a 3-4. Anywhere we put him he just causes problems for the offense."
"Before I got here, all I really played before was end, but I really enjoy playing inside," Tonga said. "Basically, I think what I do best is use my strength (410 pound bench) and my quickness to take away angles from the linemen who are trying to block me."
So far this season, the talented defensive lineman leads the state of California is sacks with six while posting 17 tackles and 9.5 tackles-for-loss.
"He's so talented, he could be playing in the NFL right now, but he wants to play D-1 football again so that's what we're working on getting him set up for right now," Tulloch said.
Recruiting hasn't picked up like Tulloch and the rest of the staff thought would happen, but there's a reason.
"Every school that's come through, and I'm talking about schools from across the country, they all ask us 'what the heck do we have to do to get this guy?', but the problem is he's only going to be a one-for-one guy because of his eligibility," Tulloch said. "Houston and Iowa State saw him and they offered him almost immediately even though he's only got one year of eligibility and we've got some other schools that he's interested in talking to that are looking at him pretty hard.
"The problem for Matangi is that he only has that one year left, so it's just a matter of the school being willing to work with him and do it or not. He's a good student and a great player and he's a really good person who just didn't have things work out at BYU. I think he deserves a chance to play big time college football again and I think he'll have that chance when it's all said and done."
We'll continue to keep track of Tonga's progress over the next few months and update things as they happen.
This weekend, San Mateo takes on West Valley on the road and next week they are on the road again when they face off with Sierra on October 3rd.