Prince Tega Wanogho Jr.'s rise at left tackle could shake up Auburn's offensive line

Share on

Prince Tega Wanogho Jr. has had an 'astronomical' rise since moving from defensive end to left tackle a year ago and

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

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."

Share on
Article Prince Tega Wanogho Jr.'s rise at left tackle could shake up Auburn's offensive line compiled by Original article here