SOTT: Draft Profile: Hebron “Loni” Fangupo
The next few weeks here on State of the Texans we will be doing some draft profiles of some particular players who could possibly fit into the Texans plans. We are not going to try to piece together scouting reports, but we enlist help of bloggers who actually cover the respective player and their school.
With big men like Dontari Poe (Memphis) and Alameda Ta’Amu (Washington) in the draft, there is another mammoth of a player who seems to be on the outside looking in. Looking like a day three prospect, Hebron “Loni” Fangupo from BYU measures in at 6’1″ and 323 lbs. Not as big as his counterparts, Fangupo looks the part of an NFL nose tackle. His skill set has been compared to Sione Pouha from the New York Jets, and is actually a transfer from USC after his junior season. His story on how he got to BYU shows a lot about Fangupo, and his run stuffing skills should not be overlooked by scouts. He could be a nice late round addition in the draft for an NFL team looking to bulk up the interior of their defensive line.
We talk to Brett from Vanquish the Foe, a blog dedicated to the BYU Cougars on SB Nation, to find out more about the run force in Fangupo.
Can you give us some background on Fangupo?
Fangupo served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines before playing any college football.
He then started his college career at Mount San Antonio junior college. He played just one year there and was so phenomenal he earned a 5-star rating from Scout.com and was recruited by USC, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Tennessee. Ultimately the big man chose USC. He struggled through some ankle injuries while in LA, but was slated to be a starter as a senior in 2011.
He transferred from USC, what was the story with that move?
As stated, he was set to be a starter as a senior, so he didn’t leave because he couldn’t earn playing time. He left because his wife got robbed while home alone in their apartment in South Central LA, and she basically said “we have to go. I’m done.” What other place to go for an LDS player than BYU, right? Not only that, but due to USC’s sanctions, Fangupo could transfer and play immediately without having to sit out. He made the move and started on the D-line at BYU as a senior.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Quite literally his strength is his strength and weakness his weakness. Strength: The man is a mountain. A beast. 320 pounds (not sure on the exact number) of Polynesian Power. He occupied two blockers most of the time, can plug run lanes and push his blocker back into the pocket. He also has pretty quick feet for such a large man. Weakness: Ankles. Even at BYU, he missed a game with lower-leg/ankle problems. He has some history there that could be of concern, but it could all just be a part of being a massive nose-tackle.
What did he mean to the Cougars defense in 2011?
A lot. Can’t be overstated. BYU’s run defense was staunch, and Fangupo bought in to the system — he spent more snaps at defensive end than nose tackle. BYU finished with the 13th-best total defense nationally, and it was thanks in large part to the big boys up front. In its bowl game, BYU held Tulsa, a team that averaged over 200 rushing yards per game, to just 72 rushing yards. BYU has a stud linebacker named Kyle Van Noy who had 9.5 tackles (5 for a loss) who caused havoc on the edge that game. Why was that? Because Fangupo was there on the edge too, occupying extra blockers. (Fangupo had 2 tackles himself.)
Do you think his age will play a factor for NFL teams?
Maybe, but it shouldn’t if the name Brett Keisel rings a bell. The 10-year defensive end for the Steelers just announced his retirement last month. He cracked into big playing time in his third year and was a full-time starter for his final six years. He, too, played at BYU, is LDS, and served a two-year mission. The man with the gnarly beard helped Pittsburgh, with one of the most feared defenses, win two Super Bowls.
How do you see Fangupo at the next level?
Fangupo has the body and the power to make a big difference in the NFL. He is quick enough to be more than just a hole-plugger, as evidenced by his time at defensive end. (By no means am I saying he’s a legit HOF pass rusher, but that he could at least hack it on the end.) If he can stay healthy, I see no reason his career couldn’t play out like Keisel’s – not a guy everyone talks about like Haloti Ngata, but someone who can anchor a defensive line with consistent contribution.
You can see Fangupo’s 2012 Combine Numbers Here.
A special thanks goes out to Brett and you can follow him on Twitter for all of your BYU sports coverage.