You can never have enough pass rushers. I’m sure I’ve used that line before in an article, but that just further puts the emphasis on that statement. Dave Aranda brought the 3-4 defense with him to Baton Rouge when he was hired, and although he is starting to implement a multiple-front defense, there is always a constant: players that can make a quarterback’s life hell. Even with the return of K’Lavon Chaisson from injury, Aranda wanted someone with experience as a backup. Insert Fonua...with a lurking caveat.
A strong sophomore season at Mesa Community College put Fonua on the map, and an open spot late in the recruiting season gave LSU a prime opportunity to reel Fonua in. Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma State all offered earlier in the year, but a chance to compete in the SEC was enough for Fonua to commit right before National Signing Day.
Fonua used his strong sophomore season (and likely better evaluation) to shoot up to the No. 4 JuCo strong-side defense end in the nation, and top 50 overall recruit.
At a listed 6-4, 264 pounds, Fonua has impressive speed off the edge when he’s standing up. Watching his film, he looks like your standard, lighter 230-pound edge rushers. He does struggle a little to get off his blocks when he puts his hand down, but he has added 10 pounds since arriving at LSU to give him more strength to shed those blocks. One thing I also love is he brings some violence with him with his hits. Anyone that can let them know who hit them is good in my books.
Here is where things get a little cloudy. Fonua is on campus and practicing with the team, but some of his coursework at Mesa Community College has yet to come through, meaning he is not eligible to play in an actual game yet. We know how the Clearinghouse loves to take it’s time with these things, so LSU is currently in a standstill.
Fonua is listed at 274 pounds on the LSU website, but has said he has fluctuated anywhere from there to 280-285 pounds, as Aranda wants him playing as a down lineman for now. He showed he can play both during his time at Mesa, and LSU will be losing Rashard Lawrence and Breiden Fehoko after this season, meaning significant playing time is up for grabs for the 2020 season. It’s good for Fonua to be making that transition right now in order to be ready to compete for a starting spot next year.
High End: Fonua takes his position transition in stride, and provides a quality starter as a defensive end.
Low End: The clearinghouse muddies things up, preventing Fonua from getting playing time this season and puts him behind the eight ball for 2020.
Realistic: Fonua can provide quality depth eventually. I think there are still guys currently on the roster that will be ahead of him in 2020, but it would be nice to have another veteran presence on hand when the loaded recruiting class arrives.