BYU football: Khyiris Tonga leads what he hopes will be a strong interior defensive line


PROVO — Khyiris Tonga is hard to miss, not just because of his gigantic 6-foot-4, 340-pound frame, but for what he does when lining up along the BYU defensive front. It makes everything flow better for a 4-3 base defense that is predicated on pressure up front.

Tonga recently began taking live reps in practice and players readily welcomed him.

“It changes everything when he’s in there,” noted BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki, who switched from defensive end to outside linebacker over the offseason. “It’s a blessing for us, with him taking up all those blocks so we can fill those holes and make plays. He frees everything up and he’s a beast.”

Tonga came on to the scene last season and made his presence known almost immediately as a true disrupter playing on the defensive interior. He came to BYU after prepping at Granger High School, where he played at a much lighter weight, before gaining a lot of stature while serving an LDS Church mission to Kansas.

Although his stats show only 19 tackles and two sacks, in part due to some injury issues, his presence works to help those around him, as Takitaki stated.

So far this fall Tonga has spent a lot of time working his way back into shape, although Monday’s practice indicates he’ll be taking more and more reps at defensive tackle during live sessions.

“If he can get his weight down he will be even better,” said BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki. “Right now he is a little bit heavy. If we can get him to where he needs to be and he stays there, he is a game-changer. I think he is a difference-maker.”

For Tonga, he shies completely away when told of Tuiaki’s praise.

“I don’t even know what to say about that. I guess it’s good having coaches believe …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

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