Football RecruitingPremium

Tshimanga’s Journey Could Eventually Lead Him to the 40 Acres

Longhorn fans got to know the journey of how Reggie

Wilson came from being the son of Liberian war refugees to the state’s top

prospect in the 2010 class. Now, Wilson’s family tree is branching out and his

cousin – Richland linebacker Jeremiah Tshimanga – could be on his way to making

a similar journey. A native of The Congo, Tshimanga has an interesting story of

his own and like his cousin he looks like he’s on the verge of becoming a fine

football player.
There are athletes who come from tough situations, but

Tshimanga’s path has been rougher than that of just about all of his peers.

Born in The Congo, his father left the family when he was

about seven and at age 12, his mother could no longer take care of Tshimanga

and his three siblings and he’s been living with friends and getting by however

he can ever since.

The hard times he’s experienced have made him hungry to

succeed in life, and that includes football. Tshimanga said he would love to

earn a scholarship to go to college in order to provide for his family and that

chance might not be too far off from coming to fruition.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outside linebacker prospect

enjoyed a solid sophomore season at Richland as the Rebels advanced to the

Class 5A playoffs, but it’s his impressive physique and upside as an edge

rusher have piqued the interest of several college coaching staffs. Oklahoma

State, who currently has a commitment from fellow Richland Rebel Nico Ornelas,

and Texas A&M, the school responsible for Tshimanga’s first verbal offer,

have both shown serious interest.

Texas has also shown interest as Tshimanga noted that

Texas assistant coach Bruce Chambers stopped by the school in the spring to

check on him. It also helps the Longhorns that Wilson and Tshimanga talk quite

a bit and the former Haltom standout has talked to his cousin about life on the

40 Acres.

“I talked to (Wilson) a couple of weeks ago and he wants

me to go down there to Texas with him to visit,” Tshimanga said. “I’m looking

forward to getting down there and meeting the defensive coordinator. We’re

trying to play together one day and get after it – I just have to get bigger

and stronger.”

Getting bigger is something that shouldn’t be a problem

for Tshimanga. His older brother who recently graduated high school is 6-foot-7

and Tshimanga feels like at 6-foot-3 he’s not done growing himself. He also

noted that his brother, had he been given the opportunity, could have been a

special player.

“He didn’t spring up until his junior year,” Tshimanga

said. “We have bad family problems, so he didn’t get to play football. He could

have been better than Reggie.”

Better than an ESPNU 150 member who finished his career

as the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Inside Texas 2010 Top 100 might be a

stretch, but Tshimanga said he saw some striking similarities between his

brother and his talented cousin.

“They’re a lot alike,” Tshimanga said. “They’re big, they’re

athletic and they’re strong.”

Tshimanga, thankfully, will get the chance to show how

good he can be on the football field before his career is over, and he could

very well wind up at Texas. While it remains to be seen exactly where things go

with Tshimanga and the Longhorns, Texas is a school that will factor into his

decision if the mutual interest is there.

“I would love to go there,” Tshimanga said of Texas. “I’m

looking forward to getting down there and meeting the family, because they’re

like family down there. I’d really like to get down there and visit one day.”

He will play linebacker again as a junior for the Rebels,

but with his body expected to grow and continue to fill out there’s a good

chance Tshimanga could wind up spinning down and playing on the defensive line

at some point in his career. Perhaps Wilson’s best attribute as a prospect was

his motor and his relentlessness to get to the quarterback and Tshimanga said

that if he does wind up playing with his hand on the ground at some point,

expect him to have that same mentality.

“I feel like I can play d-line, too,” Tshimanga said. “That’s

what I love to do – hit the quarterback.”

The Rebels were bounced in the first round of the

playoffs last year by Arlington Bowie, but a strength for the Rebels will be

defense this fall. With Tshimanga and Ornelas back in the fold the Rebels

figure to be strong at the linebacker position, and Tshimanga said recent

experiences like the 7-on-7 State Tournament will only help.

Advancing to the semifinals of the Division I consolation

bracket, the Rebels got really good pass coverage throughout the tournament

from their defense, including a solid effort from Tshimanga.

“We feel like with me and Nico we can stop the run,”

Tshimanga said. “We feel confident when it comes to the run game, so when we’re

out here we can really focus on coverage and playing off of the ball.”

Many folks haven’t seen Tshimanga play, but he said those

who head out to see him this fall will get a good show.

“I play focused and I get after it,” Tshimanga said. “I

love getting stops and I get hyped when I get stops. I try and learn from my

mistakes and do whatever I can to get better.”