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3AA football: Midseason position switch has helped power Pine View

First Published      Last Updated Nov 18 2016 04:39 pm

3AA football » Mpungi’s move to RB as paid off.

Pine View's Jacob Mpungi did not start the season at running back and did not see himself playing there. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior pictured himself as a receiver capable of making spectacular one-hand grabs.

But sometimes the needs of the team outweigh the desires of an individual.

"At the beginning of the season, I was not thinking about running back," said the Panther star. "I was playing outside receiver. Our running back got hurt against Dixie [on Sept. 16], so I stepped in and started playing."

Pine View coach Ray Hosner said that when the need arose for a running back, he went to Mpungi and his uncle Jimmy Chepkwurui (who Mpungi lives with) to talk about making the change.




The compromise was that Mpungi would play both positions, with an emphasis on running back.

That move has been a major success. As Mpungi has grown comfortable in the role, Pine View has made a late-season charge into Friday's 11 a.m. Class 3AA state title game against rival Desert Hills at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"I loved getting the ball and making moves," Mpungi said. "It was really fun. Now I can come out and catch the ball. Motioning me out and throwing it to me helps out our offense."

Mpungi has rushed for 1,526 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also has 24 receptions for 349 yards.

"It was the best of both worlds," Hosner said. "It has helped us, without a doubt. He is an explosive athlete and, right now, schools are starting to look at him. This is his first year as a varsity running back and he has learned to make reads, be patient with blocks and, in a zone system, getting the gaps down. He is a special kid."

Mpungi was born in Maryland, but moved to South Jordan with Chepkwurui and his wife, Megan. While there, he and his brother D'Angelo , who has six interceptions at defensive back for Pine View, started playing youth football in the Bingham program alongside the Chepkwuruis' son, Chackson.

The Mpungi brothers subsequently moved to Washington, D.C., for a time, but when the Chepkwuruis relocated to St. George, they asked if Jacob and D'Angelo would like to move with them.

"I came to St. George two years ago," Jacob said. "I really like it. It's fun. There are awesome people everywhere. I love it."

While he has played basketball and run track in the past, Jacob said he plans on spending most of the offseason training for football in hopes of getting a scholarship.

With the skill level he is showing coupled with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, chances are he will start getting some serious looks from colleges in-state and throughout the country.

Twitter: @tribtomwharton

 

AT A GLANCE

About Jacob Mpungi

» The 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior moved from receiver to running back and has helped Pine View be a surprise entrant in the 3AA state title game.

» Mpungi has rushed for 1,526 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.

Desert Hills vs. Pine View

Class 3AA Championship, at Rice- Eccles Stadium

» Friday, 11:30 a.m.


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