PART TWO OF A FOUR-PART SERIES
Kansas State coach Ron Prince focused on toughening the defensive interior during the offseason. He landed a pair of possible answers in inside linebackers Hansen Sekona and Ulla Pomele. With burst, great lateral movement and plenty of big-play capability, the duo will offer a first glimpse at their adjustment to the Big 12 level during the spring game on April 19. D. Scott Fritchen continues his look at spring newcomers and their potential impact heading into the fall.
Hansen Sekona • ILB • 6-0, 230 • Jr-TR
College of San Mateo
San Mateo, Calif.
What his addition means: Sekona's highlight reel via Rivals.com harkens memories of a guy named Mark Simoneau in how he predicts, moves and snuffs out plays. How well his talent translates to the Big 12 remains the question. Still, Sekona is capable of running into traffic and coming out the other side to make a tackle for a loss. He's disciplined enough to stay at home in the flat and body tight ends and slots for the INT. Check it out: The 26-play highlight package on Rivals showed Sekona against the run 16 times -- 12 of which resulted in a minimal gain or a loss. The remaining 10 highlights showed his knack to beat blocks (three sacks), ability to lasso pass-catchers along the edge (two tackles behind the line), and his ability to disrupt (two PBUs) and capitalize (two INTs, one TD). Sure, it's early. And true, those highlights came from two years at junior college. But the potential is there. Makes you wonder what he'll show April 19. And down the road.
Who he could have an edge over entering fall workouts: Call it a draw. Inside linebacker was one of Prince's biggest offseason concerns. Sekona could be even with returners Reggie Walker and John Houlik entering fall workouts but must keep his nose in the playbook. Same goes for fellow junior college transfer Ulla Pomele.
What he did at College of San Mateo (Calif.): Must have been hard for the Rivals folks to trim the tape of Sekona's highlights. Appears he had a career full of them. Sekona was the team MVP as the 78th-rated junior college prospect by Rivals.com and first-team All-NorCal Conference selection tallied a team-high 71 tackles, including 10 for a loss and two sacks.
Purple pipeline: Sekona is the second signee to come from the College of San Mateo since 1993 and the first under Prince. DB Surrell Davis came from there in 2004.
Sekona says: "My visit was a great experience and I've never seen anything like it in my life. They take their football seriously out there."
Prince says: "He's a really terrific linebacker and I'm really excited to see what happens when the pads come on."
Ulla Pomele • ILB • 6-1, 235 • Jr-TR
Santa Rosa Junior College
Santa Rosa, Calif.
What his addition means: Pomele enters on the same level as Sekona. No highlights on Pomele on Rivals.com, but he arrives with a tremendous reputation as a playmaker with stats to back it up. With the addition of Pomele and Sekona in the spring, new linebackers coach Cornell Jackson has some talent to work with alongside the aforementioned Walker and Houlik.
Who he could have an edge over entering fall workouts: See above. It appears to be an even playing field but Pomele must focus on on-field growth and learn the system to show he's ready to explode in the fall. It'll be interesting to see how Pomele and Sekona push the returners.
What he did at Santa Rosa (Calif.) JC: Pomele posted 64 tackles and half of them were solo stops. He also had 11 tackles for a loss to go along with five sacks as the No. 38-rated junior college prospect by Rivals.com. Interestingly, Pomele was team MVP his senior year of high school as quarterback and linebacker.
Purple pipeline: Pomele and teammate and WR Aubrey Quarles are the first signees to come from Santa Rosa CC since WRs Joe Lawson (2003) and Jesse Martinez (2004).
Pomele says: "When I visited, the people and coaching staff were all very welcoming. They were encouraging and supportive. It is a great place."
Prince says: "We expect to have very spirited competition with John Houlik and Reggie Walker inside. If we don't even see a change in the depth chart, at least we'll see a real increase in performance there."
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