January 13, 2013
Kondolo calls UT 'best' visit; ponders Vols
Chongo Kondolo had been prepared for an informative visit to the University of Tennessee, but the three-star junior college offensive line prospect never quite imagined the depth of information he would gain during a weekend trip to Rocky Top.
"Just the help that's available athletically and academically," the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Kondolo said left the biggest impression as he left Knoxville. "They have a lot of tutors; I think they said over 100 athletic tutors and in the (Thornton Center) facility they have many different classes for every subject. And the new football facility is just crazy. That stood out to me. They have a lot of food available so that your workout won't go to waste.
"And then since I play o-line, they have Antone Davis, the OL coach, Coach Mo --- Coach Don Mahoney, and Coach (Joe) Bernardi coached with my coach at Fresno, so that's like three o-line coaches. That's three people who can help make you a better offensive lineman and the atmosphere that coach Jones is trying to add and the tradition, they have a long line of pride in Tennessee and they're trying to bring it back. Pride, tradition and family atmosphere."
A native of Zambia who is focusing intently on the big picture of his recruiting process and not merely the football aspect, Kondolo nonetheless held the Vols' commitment to players and specifically offensive linemen under Butch Jones in high regard.
"That stands out a lot. You can always keep getting better as a lineman, so I can get three different perspectives. Coach Mo, Coach Bernardi and Antone is a Vol For Life, so that's somebody you can look up to, somebody you can go to for things in life and he's played in the NFL. So he's kind of there to be like a guardian or parent away from home and he can help you in football," Kondolo said. "So there are people here who know what it takes to make it to the NFL, and there's academic help as well. Just a very good place to prepare yourself."
So good, in fact, that Kondolo said the visit was his best to date and that he departed the weekend trip with much more to consider.
"It's making me really think, because I do plan on taking all three visits but this one stands out the most by far of any of the visits I've taken. This is by far the best one. I'm really thinking now; it exceeded expectations," said Kondolo, hosted by James Stone. "It was nice, because they're the older guys and they know what it takes. We talked about that and talked about coming to work. About O.L.P., O-line Pride. And they're just good dudes. It isn't just football, so now when I get here I'll have people I can look up to because they're all older. They've already played at this level and it's going to be my first time. It's good to know there are people you can talk to that's more than just football, because some places it's just all football shoved down your throat. Here, there's a lot of pride in football here but at the same time, you can think about other things."
A three-star prospect with offers from the ACC, Big 10, BYU and others, Kondolo said he would take remaining visits, with Nebraska next weekend and Arkansas and Wisconsin also in the mix, before choosing his school prior to national signing day on Feb. 6.
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