Jonathan Kongbo in a photo posted to his Twitter account this week.

Jonathan Kongbo in a photo posted to his Twitter account this week.

FOOTBALL

Surrey football player Kongbo signs with NFL’s 49ers

‘Humbled and READY to get to work,’ the Holy Cross grad posted to social media

Surrey-raised football player Jonathan Kongbo has apparently signed a contract to play for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers next season.

“Humbled and READY to get to work,” Kongbo posted to his Twitter account on New Year’s Eve. “Thank You GOD for all the ups and downs. The real work is ahead #49ers #2020Vision.”

Kongbo won a Grey Cup with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in November, and now appears set to make his mark with the Super Bowl contenders in San Francisco.

(story continues below)

In early December, Kongbo was released by the Blue Bombers so he could pursue NFL opportunities.

The defensive lineman, a Holy Cross Regional High School graduate, played as a rookie for the Bombers during the 2019 season, after being selected fifth overall in the CFL Draft last spring.

On Dec. 5, just 11 days after the team’s Grey Cup win over the Hamilton Tiger Cats, the organization announced the move to release Kongbo, 23.

• READ MORE: To pursue NFL dream, Surrey’s Kongbo released by Grey Cup champs.

“When we selected Jonathan in last year’s CFL Draft, he chose to sign with our organization rather than wait a season to continue training,” Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said in a statement posted to cfl.ca.

“This agreement came with the understanding that if he received any NFL interest, we would work with him to help him pursue those interests.

“Jonathan is a great young man and deserves the opportunity to explore all avenues in his career. We wish him the best and certainly will welcome his return if nothing comes to fruition in this regard.”

In 12 games with the Bombers in 2019, the six-foot-six Kongbo made 12 tackles and one sack.

Kongbo overcame a serious injury at the start of the CFL season to play for the Bombers.

With the Tennessee Volunteers of the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference (SEC), the hulking “King” Kongbo tore the ACL in his right knee during a game against Auburn in October of 2018, ending his senior season and, ultimately, his dream of being drafted by an NFL team earlier this year.

In May, during an interview at his family’s Clayton-area home, Kongbo lamented a knee injury that required surgery and months of rehabilitation. In his final season of U.S. college football, Kongbo had hoped to generate interest among NFL teams at the draft – something that didn’t happen.

While at Holy Cross, Kongbo was something of an accidental football star – a guy who hadn’t played the game until Grade 12 at the Fleetwood-area Catholic school. He’d been a basketball player at Kitsilano Secondary until transferring to Holy Cross, where the Crusaders’ coaches eventually coaxed him to try football, a game he didn’t embrace at first but grew to love.

From Holy Cross he went to junior college in Wyoming and Arizona Western before joining the Vols in Tennessee, where he played prime-time games against some of the biggest-name teams in college football – Alabama Crimson Tide, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers and the like.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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