Manase Tonga played running back at BYU from 2005-2009 and is currently playing for the Oakland Raiders.
Q: What have you been doing this summer?
A: I've been training this summer, trying to get my body 100 percent for training camp and to get ready for this upcoming season.
Q: How’s your life in the NFL?
A: I can't complain. I'm grateful to have a job. I'm back in my hometown which is definitely a blessing. Like I said, I can't complain.
Q: With training camp coming up, do you get to see your family often?
A: For the first part of the summer, yes [i get to spend time with my family]. And then once we start getting into training camp and things like that, the time really gets cut down to the point where I only get to see them right before they go to bed. It's definitely hard.
Q: What’s the difference between training camp in college and the NFL?
A: Aside from everybody being freakishly athletic, it's almost the same. Basically, just like in college, we still have two-a-day practices. The only difference in the NFL is it's a month long instead of a week and a half. We're in it for the long haul and it's a longer season. For the most part, other guys' mentalities are to maintain their bodies to last throughout the season. They're very smart at how they practice.
Q: What are the main differences between college and the NFL?
A: The coaching. It is crazy. As an offensive player, we need to learn defenses. These defensive coordinators are very exotic with their looks, their packages and blitzes that they have. You have to be consistently on top of it. When it comes to game planning, you have to know their tendencies. Coaches at the next level are very exotic but they do a really good job. Offensively, the playbook is just insane, man. For instance, my rookie year, I had to kind of learn how to play football all over again. When you get to the NFL level, everyone is physically gifted. So what sets them apart is knowing their assignments, their technique, the mental part of the game. So trying to get to that level mentally in your preparation and all, is definitely very different.
Q: What do you think of BYU being independent?
A: Honestly I’m really jealous. I wish it would have been independent a long time ago just because the quality of teams that they’re playing. Me personally, I felt like my senior year was probably the funnest year because we got to play Oklahoma and we played Florida State. You know, we were playing these big name schools and now [they] get to do it on a year-to-year basis. This year [they have] a pretty tough schedule and I’m not going to lie, I’m a little jealous. I wish we would have played those kinds of teams when I was playing. I think we would have done really well. But hey, I’m just glad that BYU’s moving forward and I’m glad that the players are responding to the level of competition. They’re basically showing the world that we’re not far off and we can compete with the best of them.
Q: Anything you want to tell the fans?
A: I just want to say to the fans, keep being faithful and keep up the support. That’s what drives this whole team. We always rely on the Cougar faithful to keep us going and now that I’m a former player, I always want to come back in support and be a part of this program in any way I can. So it’s an exciting time to be a Cougar fan.