Draft Diamonds Spotlight Interview: John Kanongata’a, LB, Montana
How many teams were recruiting you out of high school?
Only two schools: Montana and Montana State.
How did you come to make your college decision?
Originally, I had verbally committed to Montana State because they were my only offer. However, a few weeks later Montana offered me and I felt it was a better fit for me there. That’s when I made my decision to attend the University of Montana.
Where are you training, and what are your goals for pro day/combines?
I am currently training at APX in Spokane, WA. My goal come pro day is to be in the best shape of my life and have that portray in my pro day times/numbers.
Have any scouts met with you, and if so what are they saying?
I have not yet talked to any scouts.
At your position, what separates you from the others?
I believe what separates me from other players is my instinct to find the ball. When teams break away from tendencies and give us different formations it all comes down to reading your keys and reacting and I strongly believe that my natural ability to do so is what separates me from other players.
Tell us what you look for when breaking down film?
When I study film I first look at the formation of the offense and the run/pass ratio of that formation. I figure out their favorite runs in each formation and what routes we’ll see in different formations/down and distances. Every team has tendencies and I believe knowing these tendencies as a defensive player is vital in performing at your fullest potential. Another thing I also study is the read progressions by the quarterback and the time release of his throws. I do this to somewhat get a feel for when and where I can expect the ball to be thrown.
Who was the toughest player you have ever faced?
My quarterback at the University of Montana, Jordan Johnson. Some people may not know of the things he went through just to get back on the field but he is the strongest most determined person I’ve ever known. He will always have the upmost respect from me as a football player and a friend.
If you could compare your play to one person in the NFL who would it be?
I have always looked up to Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis ever since I was young and I grew up watching him play. Although he has retired I have always tried to match my style of play with his. He’s a smart, physical, hard working football player and I hope to one day be as successful in my craft as he was.
What system fits your style of play the best?
I believe I am suitable to play in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 scheme.
What is your biggest strength?
I take pride in my physicality and my ability to never shy away from contact on the field.
What is your biggest weakness?
To a lot of people my size is my greatest weakness however, I strongly believe that my speed, agility, and power make up for whatever people believe I lack in size.
If I were a GM and gave you a minute to sell yourself, what would you say?
I would say that I’m a hard worker on and off the field and you will not find a more physical player. I truly believe in the saying that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard and although some may judge my abilities on my size I make up for it with hard work, hustle, and dedication. I am dedicated to improving myself in every aspect of life and the game of football is a great part of that.
Growing up, who was your role model?
My older brothers. I’d always wanted to be like them as I grew older and I still look up to them as great leaders and role models.
Who was your favorite team and player in the NFL and why?
My favorite team is the Seattle Seahawks because I grew up watching them play. Favorite player is my cousin Haloti Ngata who is also a huge role model for me and someone I look up to greatly.
If you were to have dinner with three people dead or alive who would it be?
I would love to be able to sit down with Ray Lewis and pick his brain a little bit due to the fact that I’ve followed him his whole career. The other two people would have to be my parents Loka and Taiana. I know it sounds weird to say I’d like to have dinner with my parents of anyone in the world but I haven’t gotten to see them much lately and I would like to share a meal with them to tell them how grateful I am to have them in my life and how appreciative I am of everything they’ve done for me and our family.
What would you buy with your first NFL paycheck?
Some may buy a new car or a new house for themselves when they get enough money to do so but I would use my first pay check to support my hard working mother. Being able to tell my mother she doesn’t have to work anymore has been a lifelong dream of mine because she is my biggest supporter and she deserves everything great in this world.