Time for the Prince Tega Wanogho experiment to turn into production for Auburn. The Tigers are back in that national championship conversation and need the four-year junior to put the athletic ability and experience together and become a dominant left tackle in 2018.
His journey to Auburn was a feel-good story.
From Nigeria, Wanogho moved to Montgomery, AL, tried football at Edgewood Academy, a private school, and grew into this athletic 6-foot, 7-inch, 240-pound four-star defensive end prospect.
He chose Auburn, but suffered a serious knee injury playing basketball his senior year. The Tigers redshirted Wanogho and later switched him to offensive tackle. After seeing limited action as a redshirt freshman in 2016, Wanogho had added the mass and gained the experience to start.
Gus Malzahn raved about Wanogho’s potential, but benched him after the first four games of the 2017 season. Wanogho struggled against Clemson as Auburn allowed 11 sacks in a 14-6 loss at Death Valley.
Wanogho ended up starting seven games last season, but was clearly a work in progress. Time for the work to start playing serious dividends.
Now 307 pounds, Wanogho is in his third year of playing the position. Having J.B. Grimes back as offensive line coach has helped Wanogho’s development.
Grimes coached left tackle Greg Robinson, who became the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. He knows how to toughen guys up and develop linemen with Wanogho’s athleticism and potential.
Following the A-Day game, Malzahn said Wanogho had taken “the next step.” Wanogho’s seems to be more confident in himself and his ability to play left tackle.
All that’s left for Wanogho to do now is be the athletic offensive lineman Auburn felt it was getting when switching him from defense to offense – and play a high level on a consistent basis.
If he doesn’t deliver, Auburn will once again be in reshuffle mode like it was last season trying to figure out who to play where on the o-line. If Wanogho lives up to his potential, Auburn will have another all-SEC lineman on its hands and will finally feel good about making him an offensive tackle.
RELATED: Auburn wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers on the hot seat in 2018.
(Duane Rankin is an award-winning columnist/videographer for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser whose work also can be found in USA TODAY. You can follow him on Twitter @DuaneRankin)
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