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Tonga's rocky career at BYU ended with his receiving an invitation to be one of the limited number of fullbacks participating at the Scouting Combine. The Cougars use a stable of backs as runners and receivers, but Tonga's size and nimble feet in those duties stood out enough to NFL scouts to garner the invite.
His role in the offense grew in his first three seasons in Provo, as did his rushing yards (28, 197, 305), touchdowns (zero, four, eight) and receiving totals (5-50-0, 23-230-2, 27-248-0). Tonga was suspended for the first game of the 2007 season, however, after being stopped for running a stop sign in July, then being arrested afterwards for failing to pay an $82 fine from a previous citation for the same offense. He also gave the officer a false name and had expired registration. He did not play in 2008 due to academic issues, taking classes at Utah Valley State while working full-time, and was cleared just before the 2009 season to resume playing.
Tonga will have to answer questions about those issues through the draft process, but his running and receiving skills and potential as a blocker, which he has yet to truly realize, will fit today's NFL offenses that don't rely on a massive pounder at the fullback position.
Inside: Strong runner between the tackles. Has a nose for the goal line, keeping his legs churning until he gets there. Nifty enough to pick his way through traffic, but is inconsistent keeping his head up to see where he's going.
Outside: Runs outside the tackles occasionally, but that is not his forte. Not particularly elusive or fast, but his feet are just quick enough to avoid one tackler in space and cutback inside. Lacks a breakaway gear and won't turn the corner against NFL defenses.
Breaking tackles: Runs a bit upright but lowers his pads and secures the ball to run over and through defenders in the open field. Falls forward after contact, and spins off blocks at times to get additional yardage.
Blocking: Adequate out of his stance as a lead blocker. Not dominating at the point of attack, but is able to direct incoming defenders out of the hole and sustain after initial contact. Doesn't always find a body to hit, often failing to adjust to the inside man. Also ducks his head too much before the collision, allowing defenders to sidestep him. Adept at blitz pick-up, adjusting from one side of the formation to the other to find the unclaimed defender. Throws his shoulder or cut blocks pass rushers on the edge when helping the tackle, instead of extending his arms and moving his feet. Has trouble getting through traffic inside to find someone to block. Could give more effort blocking downfield.
Receiving: Good hands and flexibility to catch flares out to pick up five-seven yards for first downs or to set up a short third down. Also used over the middle. Catches balls away from his body. Adjusts to balls thrown behind him, but lacks the flexibility to get high or low throws consistently. Sinks into his routes coming over the middle, and can shake off the linebacker to get free. Lacks the elusiveness to evade NFL defenders in the flat and the speed to run away from them after the catch. Runs with the ball too loose in the open field. Doesn't put a hand on blitzers before going out on his route.
Intangibles: Teammates love his energy, desire, strength and attitude. Traffic stops and academic issues will need to be addressed. Married father of two.
Earned letterman honors as a senior ... saw action in 12 games, including 11 starts ... gained 166 yards on 40 rush attempts, averaging 3.7 yards per carry ... recorded 271 yard receiving on 30 receptions ... totaled eight touchdowns, four on the ground and four through the air ... carried out the team flag prior to the UNLV game.
Sat out the 2008 season due to academics.
Earned letterman honors ... saw action in 12 games for the Cougars ... credited with 88 carries for 305 yards, averaging 3.5 yards per carry ... credited with 8 touchdowns ... also credited with 27 receptions for 248 yards ... posted a season-high 13 carries for 54 yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars' victory over New Mexico.
Earned letterman honors ... saw action in all 13 games during the season ... credited with 44 carries for 197 yards ... had four touchdowns on the season ... credited with 23 receptions for 230 yards and two touchdowns ... had a season-high seven carries against Air Force ... had a season-best 47 yards, including a 19-yard carry against Boston College ... had a season-high four receptions for 46 yards against the Eagles ... had four receptions for 52 yards in the Cougars' 38-8 victory over Oregon in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl.
Earned letterman honors as a freshman ... saw action in 10 games of the season ... registered carries for 28 yards ... averaged 4.7 yards per carry ... averaged 2.8 rushing yards per game ... longest carry was 10 yards against UNLV ... ran three times for 20 yards and caught two passes for 21 yards against the Rebels ... credited with five receptions for 50 yards on the season ... averaged 10.0 yards per reception ... averaged 5.0 receiving yards per game ... had one assisted tackle on the season.
2007: Suspended for the first game after being stopped for running a stop sign in July and subsequently being arrested for failing to pay an $82 fine from a previous citation for the same offense. He also gave the officer a false name and had expired registration.
2008: Sat out the season due to academic issues.
A three-year letterwinner at Aragon High School in San Mateo, Calif. ... an honor roll student ... selected team captain ... named Most Valuable Player ... had his jersey retired ... holds the record from most yards in a game with 365, most yards in a season with 1,886, touchdowns with 25 and receiving touchdowns in a game with 3 ... a first-team all-county and all-league selection ... also lettered in basketball and track.
Born in San Mateo, Calif. ... parents are Latiume and Seneti Tonga ... signed with Utah before serving a Church mission ... served a Church mission in San Pedro, Honduras ... married to Lolohea Rogers ... an Eagle Scout ... recruited by Utah, Montana and Cal.
Draft Scout Player News
06/14/12 - FB Manase Tonga missed OTAs and mandatory minicamp following a knee procedure but is expected to return for training camp where competition will be fierce with Owen Schmitt and Marcel Reece.
05/24/12 - FB Manase Tonga is not practicing after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery but is expected back soon.
05/22/12 - FB Manase Tonga had a knee scope and is expected back in time for the team's June minicamp.