105 # Bearcats reported in for FB camp today. Prax 1 tomorrow. Late adds: C Murphy (CB), J Sawmiller (WR), A Thomas (CB) & S Tongamoa (DT).— Ryan Koslen (@Koz_UC) August 11, 2014
We will get to the other additions later, but for now lets keep the focus on Tongamoa. Here is his Sophomore highlights from Merced College.
Tongamoa is clearly talented, he is reported to have registered 70 tackles, 16 TFL and 8 sacks this past season. He shows flashes of potential for the defensive tackle position, he has a good first step, very quick hands and he has a pair of go to pass rush moves that he uses as counters, the rip and the swim. He defeats cut blocks with ease and has really good lateral range. But he is in almost all respects completely off the radar. None of the major recruiting services have profiles on him. Tongamoa was first team All Golden Gate Conference, which is composed of schools from the east and south San Francisco Bay and the Central Valley. Those JUCO leagues are not as competitive as those in the LA Area, but its still pretty good, which makes his flying completely under the radar so strange.
Regardless he is a Bearcat now, and his main task has to be injecting even more competition into the battle for playing time at defensive tackle. Finding a capable rotation at that spot is the biggest question mark on this team. More so than quarterback or the fight for open spots along the offensive line. Robert Prunty's main concern, pretty much his only concern on the eve of camp is finding some combination, any combination of guys who can command a double team inside. That will give the Bearcats talented defensive ends favorable one on one match ups on the outside. It will also keep the linebackers clean and allow them to fly around and make plays.
I don't expect any of these defensive tackles to pick up first team all conference honors like Jordan Stepp did a year ago. As a group if they can match the stats of last years departing rotation it would be an enormous success. Its not exactly a John Hughes/Derek Wolfe level hurdle to be cleared, but it is formidable; 110 tackles, 22 TFL and 11 sacks. The Bearcats have more options at the position tonight than they did when I wrote the camp preview piece around noon. More options is almost always better.
We already knew about Chris Murphy joining the Bearcats team, that broke last week. The real news is that Alex Thomas has qualified academically and will join the Bearcats. Thomas was one of two Bearcats who were academic risks on signing day. Thomas got the grades, but Frank Labady did not. From what I have heard Labady will be heading to a prep school to get his grades up, I am just not sure. Once upon a time I would have said Hargrave Military Academy, where Robert Prunty used to be head coach. But "The Grave" shut down its postgraduate football program in the spring of 2013. That means I don't really know where Labady is going to end up.
The last addition is Justin Sawmiller, the latest in a long line of receivers to put up hillarious receiving numbers playing at Kenton, Ohio. Mike Mauk might have left the program to go coach at a school in Springfield, Missouri to be closer to Columbia to watch Maty play; but his last edition was as pass happy as ever. Sawmiller was the primary beneficiary. Just look at these numbers. That is a quality walk on to add to the program.