Blue White Illustrated

November 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 67

2 6 N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 1 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Graduate transfer Derrick Tangelo may have gotten to PSU later than he wanted, but he's been a timely addition to the Lions' defensive front this season P enn State coach James Franklin and his players frequently refer to senior defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo not by his name but by his nick- name, "Congo." The 6-foot-2, 308-pound veteran, a graduate transfer from Duke who arrived earlier this year, quickly built a bond with his teammates and won a starting job on the Nittany Lions' defensive front de- spite having been on campus for only a few months. Some had wondered after he announced his decision to join the Nittany Lions whether Tangelo would be ready for such a role. Others felt con- fident that he had proved himself at the Power Five level and was fully prepared to step into a Big Ten starting lineup. Convinced that he was ready for the challenges that awaited, the latter group instead focused on his nickname and where it came from. Recently, Tangelo provided an an- swer. It turns out that the name dates back to a middle-school season and perhaps even his first big play on the gridiron. "I've been getting called Congo since I was in eighth grade," Tangelo said. "I started playing football in eighth grade, and when I made my first play, I don't know why, but for some reason I beat my chest, so they were like, 'OK, like, King of the Congo.' We kind of ran with that for a little bit, and then my coaches just started calling me Congo, so every time somebody would introduce me, they would just say, 'Oh, this is Congo.' "From eighth grade to even today, I just get introduced as Congo. It's even to the point where my parents even call me Congo." The son of Angelo Kasa and Marie Luhnmbu, Tangelo played at the Bul- lis School in Potomac, Md., where he was rated as just a two-star offensive lineman by He committed to the Blue Devils but always dreamed about suiting up for Penn State, where prep classmates Jon Holland and Cam Brown played their college football. But with that door closed coming out of high school, he went to work on improving his craft in the ACC. At Duke, Tangelo made an immedi- ate impact, playing in 11 games as a true freshman, including an appearance in the 2017 Quick Lane Bowl against North- ern Illinois, a game in which he recorded his first career sack. A year later, he was in the starting lineup for all but one of the Blue Devils' 13 games, and he was a key part of their first victory at Miami since 1976, finish- ing with a sack and a forced fumble in their 20-12 win over the Hurricanes. Tangelo's playing time declined as G R E G P I C K E L | GPIC92@GMAIL.COM No Time Like The Present A senior defensive tackle, Tangelo has started every game for the Nittany Lions this season, helping them rank fourth in the Big Ten in rushing defense through six games. PHOTO BY STEVE MANUEL

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue White Illustrated - November 2021