If you're a diehard SEC football fan, you're used to seeing players from Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, or Florida. But football is slowly expanding its borders. Now there are players coming from Europe, Africa and even Oceania — and they're contributors. So which ones stand out the most? We took at look at it.
Some moved to the United States at a young age, others came to play college football and had never lived in the United States full time. No matter what, they're unique.
HERO Sports breaks down the top five foreign born players in the SEC, and how the 2017 season is looking for this crop of players.
5. PRINCE TEGA WANOGHO, SO, OT — AUBURN
BORN IN Nigeria
THE SKINNY: Wanogho was an athletic 6-foot-8, 250-pound defensive lineman/linebacker coming out of high school, but that has all changed and he seems destined for greatness at his new position — offensive tackle. He has put on 50 good pounds and is grasping the concept at his new position. And the story goes that when he arrived in America and ran his first 40-yard dash, the slimmer version of Wanogho ran it in 4.61 — in tennis shoes. Don't be surprised to see Wanogho picking up postseason honors over the next few years.
STATS: Played in 10 games last season as a backup offensive lineman.
4. JAKOB JOHNSON, SR, TE — TENNESSEE
BORN IN Germany
THE SKINNY: Jakob (pronounced YAH-kobb) actually played high school football for one season in Jacksonville, Fla. Before that? He played for the Stuttgart Scorpions in Germany. As it turns out, one of the players on the local club team was a former college quarterback in the United States, and when scouts in the USA asked about talent in Germany, Johnson's name was passed along and that got the ball rolling.
STATS: A special teams stalwart, Johnson will be a backup tight end this fall after playing defense earlier in his career. He has 20 career tackles and last year caught two passes for 10 yards.
3. WILL GLEESON, SR, P — MISSISSIPPI
BORN IN Australia
THE SKINNY: I know I said no Australian punters in the title, but this kid is too good to leave out. Let's face it, some good punters come from the land down under (cue Brad Wing highlights from his LSU days). Gleeson is no exception. Last fall he averaged over 44 yards a boot, and as a freshman in 2014 he was incredible, with 12 punts over 50 yards and pinning opponents inside the 20 so many time we lost count. He'll be an impressive weapon once again this fall. Somewhere, the Ray Guy Award people are watching.
STATS: The three-year starter at punter has averaged 42.4 yards per boot, and also is the team's holder.
2. JONATHAN KONGBO, JR, DE — TENNESSEE
BORN IN Congo
THE SKINNY: Kongbo's path to Rocky Top has been a fascinating one. He was born in a tumultuous situation in Congo (once known as Zaire for all of you geography buffs out there). By the time he was five years old his parents knew they didn't want to raise children in the war-torn country and move their family to Canada. There the 6-foot-6, 270-pound product picked up football in British Columbia, then signed to play at Wyoming. After a year he went the junior college route in 2015 and then signed with Tennessee and he has two years to go — and he'll start at defensive end this fall.
STATS: Last year for the Vols, Kongbo had 11 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack and an interception for a TD.
1. HJALTE FROHOLDT, SR, LG — ARKANSAS
BORN IN Denmark
THE SKINNY: Froholdt and Bret Bielema go way back — to Wisconsin. Froholdt was an exchange student starring at an Ohio high school, and Bielema took notice. The Danish exchange student went home for his senior year and played club ball, and then early enrolled at Arkansas after his favorite recruit made the switch from the Badgers in the Big Ten to the Razorbacks of the SEC.
STATS: After playing defense as a true freshman, Froholdt shifted to left guard on offense last year and started 13 games with 850 snaps.
Here are some other foreign-born players who will suit up in the SEC this year:
|LSU||Growden, Josh||P||RS SO||Australia|
|MISSOURI||Agbasimere, Franklin||LB||RS SO||Nigeria|
|VANDERBILT||Osei, Baffour||RB||RS JR||Ghana|