HEY, THERE’S A PURDUE FOOTBALL GAME TODAY. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU MADE IT!
Jeffrey M’Ba - Junior
France (Pionniers de Touraine) by way of Libreville, Gabon
6’6” - 315 lbs.
2023 Projection: Not a starter but the next best thing
International students are always a fun story: this young man from the capital of coastal west African nation Gabon (I won a geography bee in the seventh grade, no biggie) didn’t start playing American football until four years ago after having moved to France and joining a club team.
It’s hard for a lot of football teams to turn down kid who is 6’6” and 300+ pounds no matter how new to the sport they might be, and M’Ba soon found himself at legendary junior college football factory Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas, where he quickly became a highly sought-after recruit.
As a freshman while maintaining a redshirt, he already racked up 10 tackles including a sack.
In year two, M’Ba exploded for 50 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss, two solo sacks, and one fumble recovery. He earned offers from several big programs before settling on Auburn, where he played in ten games and had 7 tackles (one sack). He entered the transfer portal after a regime change (I would not want my non-existent son anywhere near Hugh Freeze, sorry but that guy might not be the best person on Earth) and now he has two years of eligibility left in West Lafayette wearing better colors.
M’Ba is going to be a huge piece of of the puzzle for a retooled Boilermakers defense; new head coach Ryan Walters had a lot of success creating turnovers as the defensive coordinator at Illinois by getting tall defensive linemen with good motors to get their hands in the face of the opposing quarterback, resulting in lots of tipped passes, hurried passes, and, in 2022, an NCAA-leading 22 interceptions.
He may not be a starter yet and is expected to be rotating in behind fellow SEC transfer Malik Langham (Florida, Vanderbilt), but the addition of M’Ba is kind of a big deal for this new defensive staff in the next two years. He will almost assuredly be one of the starting defensive ends when Langham runs out of eligibility at the end of the season.
That season, I barely need to remind you, STARTS TODAY. WE MADE IT. BOILER UP.