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November 16, 2012Coach Bronco Mendenhall said that one of the big focuses during the bye week was to recruit an offensive tackle. During that time BYU offered Fresno City Community College OT Chongo Kondolo. Chongo now has offers from BYU, Illinois and Charlotte, with Nevada and Colorado State appearing close to extending offers. He's a sophomore and will be finishing at Fresno C.C. in May, and will have 3 years to play 2 at whichever university it is he decides to play for. Chongo doesn't have a favorite yet, he's never been to either BYU or Illinois, (he's hoping to take an official visit to Illinois this month and BYU next month) he isn't LDS, and grew up in Dallas, TX. So what does the Dallas native know about the Cougars of BYU?
"I know that it's a private institution and they have a really good football program, I also know they're a religious school and I know a lot about the honor code, I know that I would get good coaching there and a good education."
Chongo was raised going to a non-denominational Christian church, and was raised with all of the same values in his home that are contained in the Honor Code at BYU. He was also raised with an understanding of how important a good education is, which is his number one priority in selecting his college destination. "I want an education, just in case football doesn't work out I have to have a good education so I can get a good a good degree that I can get a job with, then also a good O-Line coach, because I want to be the best and I need a coach that can help me be the best."
He attributes all of his progress to his current offensive line coach, and knows future progress will come from coaching as well. "I really like Coach Weber because pretty much all of my development here was because of my O-Line coach, and Coach Weber coached my O-Line coach while he was at Fresno State. So I know I'm going to get good coaching if I go to BYU, when I talked to Coach Mendenhall he gave me some really good advice about making my decision."
Chongo is also a player that understands the value of hard work and effort. He said that another one of the biggest differences from when he came out of high school without any offers to now is that he's "Playing hard from whistle to whistle and just trying to use my technique every play, the technique that I'm supposed to use, and give it full effort."
The Fresno City CC offensive tackle has always been strong enough to play tackle at the division-1 level, his one rep max on the bench press is 365 pounds and the last time he pressed 225 in the spring he did 21 reps. Being so strong he has always been a great run blocker, and worked with his coaches to become a better all around offensive tackle, "All of the work that I put in in the offseason was to become balanced in my run blocking and pass blocking... I worked on my pass blocking a lot since I got here to make that better."
Another reason why he has improved so much, and is garnering interest from BYU and a B1G program is because of how he has shown against high quality opposition. "My game against San Francisco was my first time going against that good of a defensive end, so at the beginning it was hard but then I just stepped it up every game from then on... I stepped up by not thinking at all, just use my technique and just keep hitting. It went pretty well (after that). Both of our nose guard D-Linemen and then one of our defensive ends will probably play D-1. I always go against him in practice and that's pretty much back and forth. He's still one of the best D-Linemen I've gone up against so that helps a lot practicing against him."
Not only doesn't he shy away from competition, he prefers it. "The (division-1 caliber) DE from ARC, that was a good matchup too, we went at it the whole game. I guess I didn't get to go against him the whole game because they had a rotation on their D-Line. I like this next guy that I'm going against because he stays in the whole game."
Fresno City CC offensive line coach, Coach Popovich told Chongo "that (Weber) is a really good coach to go to and that he believes that Coach Weber could turn me into a much better player and help me keep improving, I always keep that in consideration, Coach Weber is a good person, everybody loves Coach Weber just because he's a good person. Coach Weber teaches a lot of the same things that Coach Pop teaches, he has all of the same offensive line calls."
When asked how Illinois' and BYU's football programs compare to each other Kondolo said that "Illinois and BYU both have good programs, but I know that this season, BYU is doing better than Illinois. (Having a down year) doesn't affect it as much as long as I can see that the coaches are really trying to win, because I do love to win. A lot of schools can have down years, so I would see if it is just a down year or is it going to be like this for a while? I want the consistency too."
The big talk at BYU as an Independent with all of the conference realignment and constant scheduling agreements is BYU's schedule. How does he view it compared to Illinois' schedule? "I actually love BYU's schedule, I would say their schedules are the same because Illinois plays in the B1G week after week. And BYU also schedules B1G opponents, Illinois has a hard schedule regardless because they play in the B1G, and BYU also tries to match that, and they schedule good opponents every week. BYU plays Wisconsin, Michigan and Notre Dame in the next few seasons."
So what does he value more than anything else in a football program? "What I want in a football program is a winning edge but also a family atmosphere, because you're only in season 3 or 4 months out of the year, so the rest of the time you're still together. So I want a good family atmosphere where the coaches are almost like father figures and the players are almost like brothers. They do have both of those, talking to Coach Mendenhall and Coach Weber I can tell you that both men give really good advice, and I can look up to them and it's also a winning program."
Sounds to me like this Texan who has never stepped foot on campus is a perfect fit for BYU.
Follow me on Twitter: @lancewarchibald