Daniel Adongo has become a fan favorite in Indianapolis. And yet he's hardly seen the field for any significant playing time in his NFL career. Hopefully, that will change this upcoming season as Adongo, the former professional rugby player, continues to learn the game of American football and continues to work.
He is listed on the Colts roster as 6-5, 257 pounds, but he confirmed to The Herald Bulletin's George Bremer that he has bulked up to 282 pounds. Adongo said that, "I try and stay as athletic as I can. It hasn't slowed me down (much), if at all. It's just an added advantage being able to move at this weight."
So, in other words, Adongo is now 6-5, 282 pounds, and hasn't lost speed. He's an incredibly athletic player and played professional rugby in Africa before the Colts signed him last season to be an outside linebacker - despite him never having played American football. The Colts, namely general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano, saw enough athletic talent there, however, that they couldn't pass up the opportunity to sign Adongo and they then went to work teaching him the game. I remember last year at training camp watching him have to get help putting his helmet on or putting a skull cap over it. I remember seeing people have to point him to where he should stand. I remember how, most of the time, all he did was stand off to the side and watch. But the potential was obvious - he was a heck of an athlete, and anytime he stepped on the field you could see it. The plan was essentially to redshirt him for the 2013 season, though toward the end of the season he saw a bit of playing time in games, mostly on special teams.
Colts fans grew to love him and hope that he would continue to develop and have an impact in 2014, and that is what they continue to hope. As an athletic, 6-5. 282 pound player, the possibilities for Adongo are nearly limitless as long as he continues to learn the game. Whether it's as an outside linebacker rushing the passer, an inside linebacker stopping the run, or a defensive lineman engaging offensive linemen in the trenches, Adongo could do it all. He's listed as an outside linebacker, but it's really hard to tell where he'll play next season. I'd guess he'll remain at outside linebacker, and an important thing o keep in mind is to not automatically discount him there just because he weighs 282 pounds now. He says he still has his speed, and if that's the case, then why wouldn't you want a fast 282 pound player charging after opposing quarterbacks? Especially after Robert Mathis's suspension and the fact that he'll miss the first four games of the 2014 season, that could be very useful.
"I'm going to work harder than I did last year and give all glory to God. This talent He has given to me, I want to work for Him, the team and my family. Where the team needs me, I shall be there. This is a team sport. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do."
Look, the bottom line on Daniel Adongo is this (and I know fans and readers won't like this because they want answers now) - we just don't know. Until we see him in pads and on the field in that hot August sun when the Colts start training camp (they report July 23 to Anderson University), we won't really know what the Colts have in Adongo. There are high hopes, and I must admit that I'm excited about him as an athlete and I'm excited about the potential. But we won't know how much of the football side of things he has down until we see him in action, and that won't come for another two months.
What I will say is this - the potential is there, and Adongo is has incredible size and athleticism. It's all based on whether he gets the ins and outs of American football down. And if he turns out to be a good player and a contributor for the Colts, then Chuck Pagano, Greg Manusky, Jeff FitzGerald, and the rest of the coaching staff deserve a ton of credit. They'll have taken a player who didn't know much at all about football and turned him into a player who can contribute. That's a heck of an achievement, and Adongo is making progress.
One thing that remains the same from his rugby days is that he still gets to hit people. Whether or not he ever gets the football side of things nailed down, he's a great athlete with great size who likes to hit people and who does a good job of doing that. He's absolutely worth a shot, and he'll get it in training camp and preseason this year.