Born and raised in Texas, Atanza Vongor didn’t want to go anywhere else when he graduated from high school three years ago.
“I was scared to leave Texas,” he said. “I had the opportunity to go anywhere and I was like, ‘You know what? TCU is down the road; it’s Power 5 football.’”
Vongor is now ready to spread his wings a bit. On Friday, he announced his decision to transfer from TCU to Colorado. The former four-star safety recruit has three years to play.
“I’m actually excited now,” he said of leaving Texas. “I feel like it’s going to be a next step for me to grow, mature as a man, and just build up my career on to the next level.”
Vongor will arrive in Boulder next month, bringing much-needed depth and experience to the back end of CU’s defense.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 208 pounds by TCU, Vongor redshirted in 2018 and played in 16 games over the past two seasons, mostly on special teams. On defense, he played behind LaKendrick Van Zandt, who earned All-Big 12 honorable mention.
“Obviously for me, it’s getting an opportunity to get on the field,” he said of his decision to transfer after three years with the Horned Frogs. “I tore my ACL my freshman year, so I didn’t get to play, but my redshirt freshman and sophomore years, I was starting off with special teams and trying to get on the field (on defense).
“I just wanted to put myself in the best position possible to give myself an opportunity to get to the next level.”
Vongor said there was a lot of interest when he initially put his name in the transfer portal in January, but no solid offers. As teams finished spring practices, the interest heated up again. Kansas and Vanderbilt were among the other schools to offer Vongor an opportunity.
“Colorado was just the best choice for me, I feel like,” he said. “The coaches, they really seem like genuine people. They just stayed in contact with me. … I believe in their mission and just their heart and passion for the game. I think those are things that match with what I believe in.”
Vongor also has friends at CU, including linebacker Robert Barnes, who transferred from Oklahoma in January; and walk-on receiver Michael Byrd, who began his career as a teammate of Vongor at TCU.
“(Barnes) just had so many good things to say about (CU),” Vongor said. “(Byrd) has had so many good things to say about the coaching staff and the environment there.”
CU has made several moves this offseason in an attempt to upgrade the safety position.
Starter Derrion Rakestraw transferred to Tulane to play his final season, and the Buffs added junior college transfer Trustin Oliver and high school recruit Trevor Woods. In addition, inside linebacker Ray Robison moved to safety and former walk-on Curtis Appleton earned a scholarship.
Junior Isaiah Lewis and sophomore Mark Perry both return after playing significant roles in 2020. Junior Chris Miller is also back and has starter potential when healthy, but he’s battled injuries throughout his career. Returning freshman Toren Pittman is also in the mix at safety.
A four-star recruit coming out of South Grand Prairie (Tex.) High School, Vongor was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 16 safety recruit nationally in the 2018 class. He had 20 scholarship offers, including from Alabama, Arizona State, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, Texas A&M, and Wisconsin.
Vongor is the sixth player to be added from the transfer portal this offseason by the Buffs. Barnes and quarterback JT Shrout (Tennessee) enrolled in January, while offensive lineman Noah Fenske (Iowa), inside linebacker Jack Lamb (Notre Dame) and defensive end Blayne Toll (Arkansas) are set to enroll this summer.
Oats to transfer
Cornerback D.J. Oats has put his name in the transfer portal.
A redshirt freshman from Arlington, Texas, Oats did not appear in a game during his two seasons with the Buffs. He was behind several others on the cornerback depth chart this spring.
A three-star prospect in 2019, Oats will have four years to play at another school.
After the departure of Oats and the addition of Vongor, CU has a projected 91 scholarship players for the fall, which is two above the maximum allowed.
Typically, 85 scholarships are allowed, but with the NCAA granting all players an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools can add returning seniors who were already on scholarship – often called “super seniors” – to the list of 85. CU has four returning players in that category: quarterback Sam Noyer, offensive lineman Kary Kutsch, defensive lineman Jeremiah Doss and linebacker Nate Landman.
CU needs to be at 89 or less by the start of preseason camp in August.
Former CU offensive lineman Valentin Senn, who put his name in the transfer portal last week, announced that he has committed to play at Connecticut. … Former CU defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson, who was not selected in the NFL Draft last weekend, is getting a tryout with the New York Jets this week. Johnson has not been signed by the Jets, but each team is allowed to give tryouts to five players at rookie minicamp and Johnson got one of those spots with the Jets.