Prince Tega Wanogho is working hard to make up for lost time.
Auburn’s defensive lineman was unable to practice for most of the fall as he recovered from a significant leg injury — fractured tibia and fibula —he suffered playing basketball for Edgewood Academy.
The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder was viewed as a developmental player even without the injury. The foreign exchange student from Nigeria’s lone season with Edgewood was his first playing football.
Auburn defenders got their first real glimpse of the redshirt freshman in December during preparations for the Birmingham Bowl.
"(The first-year defensive ends) stepped it up big time, especially Prince," senior defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert said.
Wanogho isn’t letting up this spring under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
“Fun to watch because he's an athletic guy who can run real well,” Steele said. “He's like a sponge. He hangs on every word you say. If he hears you talking to a linebacker he's listening. Sometimes I think, 'Is that going to clutter his thought process,' but I think he just wants to hear everything you want to say.”
During an open viewing period for the media, Wanogho was taking reps at defensive end with Auburn’s third team. Wanogho has the size to play inside as well, but Steele is reluctant to dual train the defender this early in his career.
“In the developmental process, cross-training a developmental player ― and I'm not saying that he's total development ― but one year of high school, limited reps since he's been here,” Steele said. “To cross-train real early in the process can be detrimental.”
Fellow defensive lineman Carl Lawson is excited to see how much Wanogho benefits from a full spring under his belt.
“Very raw but a lot of us come in that way,” Lawson said. “He had to sit out with an injury but it’s good to get a spring underneath your belt and afterwards he can springboard that into camp. That will be fun to watch.”