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Prince Tega Wanogho

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Auburn offensive lineman Casey Dunn (50) and offensive lineman Prince Tega Wanogho (76) work out Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, during fall football practice at the Auburn Athletic Complex in Auburn, Ala.
Auburn offensive lineman Casey Dunn (50) and offensive lineman Prince Tega Wanogho (76) work out Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, during fall football practice at the Auburn Athletic Complex in Auburn, Ala. (Julie Bennett)

Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. hadn't played a down of football in his life three years ago. Sixteen months ago, he had never taken a rep on the offensive line.

Now, two weeks into fall camp, Wanogho appears to be the most likely starter at left tackle for Auburn this season.

"You look at where he was a year ago today, just coming over to the position, he was like a ball of clay there," Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand said. "Now he's starting to really become something special."

It has been a meteoric rise for the redshirt sophomore from Montgomery by way of Nigeria. After an impressive spring, Wanogho's stock has continued its upward trend during fall camp. Fellow offensive tackle Darius James believes Wanogho is easily the most improved player on the roster over the last year.

The 6-foot-7, 301-pounder has spent the first two weeks of practices competing with James for the starting left tackle spot, but after 10 practices and two scrimmages -- the most recent of which came Saturday and saw Wanogho get ample reps with the first-team offensive line -- the former defensive end is the perceived favorite on the left side of the offensive line,

"He is a beast," offensive lineman Mike Horton said. "He's improved a lot, going from not even playing football to playing D-line to coming over to the O-line, I think he's progressed very good. I'm interested to see how it goes."

RELATED: Wanogho was "really close to putting it all together" in spring

Wanogho's emergence throws a bit of a wrench into Auburn's anticipated plan along the offensive line. As Wanogho continues to settle into the left tackle spot, it potentially forces James over to right tackle -- where Braden Smith has been working since spring -- and shifts Smith back to right guard, where he has started most of the last two years.

All of that further muddles the situation at left guard, where Auburn could start Mike Horton or Wilson Bell, whose experiences are primarily at right guard -- or even Austin Golson, should Casey Dunn ever earn a starting nod at center, or Marquel Harrell.

It's a good dilemma to have if you're Hand, who is encouraged by the team's depth and level of competition across the line, including at left tackle between Wanogho and James.

"He's been rising since he came over with us," Hand said. "Very talented guy, and his execution from assignment and technique and fundamentals standpoint is really starting to catch up to his talent level now, which is exciting."

 

Why there's 'a lot of rotation' on Auburn offensive line early in fall camp

Why there's 'a lot of rotation' on Auburn offensive line early in fall camp

Gus Malzahn said there was "a lot of rotation" during Auburn's scrimmage and "probably more mixing and matching" on the offensive line than in the past 3 years thanks to depth

 

The lone hesitation for Wanogho when it comes to the starting left tackle spot is his lack of game experience at a position that is widely considered the most important along the offensive line. While Wanogho appeared in 10 games last season, that was all in a reserve role. The bulk of his experience is in practice against Auburn's own defensive front -- and with Auburn potentially breaking in a new starting quarterback, that could leave the blind side resting on the shoulders of a relatively green left tackle.

That "unknown" gives Hand some pause, but the veteran offensive line coach detailed how the emphasis placed on the left tackle spot over the right tackle position is oftentimes "overblown" and "romanticized." Still, he admits that he would like to see Wanogho perform on Saturdays before you "crown the Prince."

What Wanogho lacks in tangible experience, however, he makes up for in his physical gifts, athleticism, aggressiveness and attention to detail. When you put all of those together, you have the type of player that Hand described as a "freak" with a high ceiling.

"He has a great understanding now of his assignments and he's got a great understanding of technique and fundamentals now," Hand said. "We still have a lot of fine-tuning to do; he's not a finished product, by any stretch, but from where he was this time last year to where he is now is astronomical in difference and really a credit to him and his work ethic and his coachability. He's a very coachable guy. His want-to is at a very high level."

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This story about finding the diamond in the rough is one of my favorite things about college football. 

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This is the dream scenario for our coaches. Braden is not an elite OT he is an elite OG. He is an average OT. If we can move James to RT and Braden back inside we have a stellar line because that means Prince is ready. I was told Prince Horton or  Bell Golson Smith and James from left to right were what the coaches wanted

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As a RS Soph and IF he wins the LT spot plays for 3 years he could definitely end up putting himself in position to be a all time great, and 1st round draft pick. 

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Crown the Prince!!!!! Having his athletism and arm length there plus Braden back at RG what I wanted all along... That's a win-win!!!!!

Edited by WFE12
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If he proves to be starter-worthy at LT long-term our tackle situation suddenly looks a lot better to me in the near future

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32 minutes ago, bigbird said:

Speaking of nick names....

220px-Minnie_Winnie,_Bryce_Canyon_Nation

That's Prince Winnebago to you!

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http://www.auburntigers.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/082417aab.html

Quote

Aug. 24, 2017
By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - A brother to seven sisters, Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. has the ideal temperament for an offensive lineman.

"I like to protect," says Wanogho, a redshirt sophomore. "That's one of my biggest attributes. I like to protect a lot. It's easy for me to do that."

Music to a quarterback's ears.

With no fundamental flaws to unlearn after playing only one season of high school football, Prince Tega likens himself to a "little baby."

With one exception. At 6-foot-7, 305 pounds, there's nothing little about Auburn's emerging left tackle.

Growing up in Nigeria, Wanogho played soccer and basketball. He came to the U.S. in 2014 as a high school junior, attending Edgewood Academy in Elmore, Ala.

"Back in Nigeria, we would see movies," he says. "We'd see the good life about America. Everybody's dream is to come enjoy that life, too. It's always been a big dream of mine. My dream was to play in the NBA."

Wanogho watched movies about football, too, but never tried to play until Edgewood coach Bobby Carr invited him to give it a shot.

"I decided, `Okay, I'll just try to do it. Try to stay fit before basketball season starts,'" Prince Tega remembers. "They put pads on me and a helmet to strap on. All they said was, `Go, tackle the quarterback.'

"The thing about it that is funny to this day. I remember just going out there, I didn't know what I was doing. I was just running, trying to get the quarterback every time. Sometimes, I looked like a fool. They would fake, and I was just standing right there. That was my first experience. It was pretty fun. It was like yesterday.

"I didn't know there were 11 guys on the field. I just knew five linemen, quarterback. I didn't know much about the rules, three-point stance. It was real trouble trying to get me to get in a three-point stance. I didn't really know much about it."

A defensive end and tight end in high school, Prince Tega's highlight video, showcasing his size and athleticism, wowed college coaches.

After reclassifying as a senior in 2015, he signed with Auburn, redshirted, then changed from defense to offense, playing in 10 games last season.

"It was a really big deal," he says. "Now I know what to expect. I feel like I'm prepared for whatever comes next."

A conversation at the team hotel with Braden Smith and Alex Kozan first prompted the switch.

"They asked me, `Do you see yourself playing O-line? Left tackle?'" Prince Tega says. "I said, `I don't really care. I don't really know much about the game. Whichever position the coaches want me to play, I'm fully open-minded that I was going to do it.'

"That was the first step. Coach Malzahn asked me one day, `Would you think about playing offense?' I'll do it."

In two years, he's gained 60 pounds. "I've got my speed, though," says Prince Tega, who, as a visual learner, says he benefited by watching his older teammates.

"I really appreciate them a lot," he says. "I remember my transition from defense to offense. I didn't know what I was doing. Braden and Darius [James] took me under their wings and showed me what to do."

The sports of his youth facilitated Prine Tega's transition.

"That's one reason I got really good at football is because I liked playing soccer growing up, and playing basketball, too, made my footwork better," he says.

Three years after playing his first football game, Prince Tega is competing for a starting position on Auburn's offensive line.

"It's been a really good experience for me," he says. "I didn't expect to be where I am today. Coming over here, God has a different road for me."

So... do you think Sandra Bullock will play his mom in the movie?

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Just imagine what athletes are sitting around the world not making millions because they don't have a NFL in their country. We should have one international recruiter at all times :Sing:.

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Talent wise reminds me a bit of Marcus McNeil back in the days of Al Borges. McNeil was an absolute monster that DL dreaded having to deal with on Saturdays. I think the Prince could even turn out to be a better OL before he moves on to the NFL.

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1 hour ago, jskilgro said:

dream scenario IYAM. allows the other 4 OL to play their most natural position. 

And return starters at LT, LG, and hopefully an experienced RG.  Not bad.

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Dumb, old  (like, before the days of digital cameras) joke:

Snow White sent her film of the dwarves off to the developer, and then sang, daily...

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