Former Lancer headed to the NFLAug 18, 2021 03:01PM ● By Greg James
Khyiris Tonga had a formidable career at BYU after graduating from Granger. He was a four-year starter and became the seventh round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. (Photo courtesy of BYU athletics)
By Greg James | [email protected]
A former football player at Granger High School will be playing in the NFL on Sundays.
Khyiris Tonga was selected in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears.
“This season we (his BYU defensive teammates) were more confident in ourselves,” Tonga said. “We have a lot of great players. I am still the same guy on the front. I still had to do my homework like everyone else. I am just going to continue to work hard.”
The four-year starter at BYU was recruited heavily by its head coach, Kalani Sitake, but not for the team from Provo. Tonga wanted to play for the University of Utah where Sitake coached the defense. While on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints in Wichita, Kansas, Tonga heard that Sitake had taken the head coaching job at BYU.
“Kalani gave me my first college scholarship offer when I was 15 years old,” Tonga said.
Although it did not end up as they had planned, Tonga and Sitake remained close and shared a unique bond on and off the field.
Tonga graduated from Granger in 2015. During his time as a Lancer the team only won 10 games and he endured three head coaches. He did not play his senior season, but still attended each game and practice.
“I would do anything for the city,” Tonga said.
He and his little league football teammates were asked to play for the more successful high school teams in the city, but he and his family decided to stay at Granger and make a difference for the team and the community.
As a Lancer he played tight end.
He could have entered the 2020 NFL draft but decided to return for his senior season at BYU. He had 36 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss last season.
He was the first Cougar defensive tackle drafted by an NFL team since 1999.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 321 pounds, Tonga had moments of complete dominance at BYU. His game in 2019 against USC, the Trojans had no answer for him along the defensive line.
“They were a good team and the quarterback is a good player,” Tonga said humbly after the game.
NFL summer camps opened at the end of July, and Tonga hopes to earn a spot on the team.