Cullowhee, N.C. - Following the conclusion of the 2016 NFL Draft, former Western Carolina defensive lineman Helva Matungulu signed a contract as an undrafted free agent with the NFL's New York Jets. Also this week, former offensive lineman Josh Wineberg announced that he has received a tryout invitation from the Green Bay Packers.
Matungulu will have a familiar face to turn to - at least one who knows where Cullowhee is located - while making the transition. Former WCU defensive lineman (1995-98) and assistant coach (2006-08) John Scott is in his second year as a defensive assistant line coach for the Jets.
Matungulu's combination of size, strength and quickness have intrigued professional team scouts over the past two seasons. He was a preseason All-Southern Conference selection prior to the 2015 season, and then following his senior campaign, he became the second Catamount football player in as many years to accept a bid to play in the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Collegiate Bowl in California.
Matungulu, who comes from a rugby background and has only played organized football for the past five years, began his WCU career as an offensive lineman as a true freshman in 2011. During his redshirt freshman season, he moved to the defensive line but never saw game action. Over his final three seasons, Matungulu appeared in 31 career games with 17 starts at defensive tackle. He tallied 53 career tackles with 19 solo stops, posting a career-best 23 tackles as a senior. The Nairobi, Kenya, native posted seven tackles for loss with three sacks.
Matungulu graduated from Western Carolina back in December of 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a concentration on molecular biology.
Wineberg Heads to Green Bay for a NFL Tryout
A four-year starter along the Catamount football offensive line, Josh Wineberg landed a tryout with the NFL's Green Bay Packers. Wineberg travels to Wisconsin on Thursday (May 5) with the tryout scheduled for Friday (May 6).
Wineberg impressed NFL scouts at the Pro Day held in Boone, N.C., back in early April. He tipped the scales at 305-lbs., the most he weighed during his entire collegiate career. The West Jefferson, N.C., product pumped out 28 reps on the 225 bench press and ran a 5.15 40-yard dash -- 0.1 seconds quicker than the average for his position at the NFL combine. He also drew positive feedback on his footwork and agility in position drills during the Pro Day.
In 2015, Wineberg's work along the offensive line was instrumental in helping Western Carolina securing its first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 as he opened holes for sophomore tailback Detrez Newsome, who finished with the fourth-most rushing yards by a back in a single-season with 1,109 yards on the ground. All told, Wineberg graded out at over 90-percent for the season, the highest among WCU's offensive linemen.
Wineberg played in 45 career games along WCU's offensive line over the past four seasons in Cullowhee, with all but three games coming at right tackle. He was twice named All-Southern Conference. He played in the 2015 FCS National Bowl following the season.
CatamountSports.com will provide an update following Wineberg's workout, as well as any updates on other former Catamounts that are inked by professional football teams over the next few weeks.
Western Carolina opens its 11-game 2016 football schedule on Saturday, Sept. 3 as it rekindles the in-state rivalry with East Carolina at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C. The Catamounts' home-opener is against another in-state foe, Gardner-Webb, on Sept. 10 in Cullowhee. Season tickets for that -- and all five home dates in 2016 -- are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office and online at CatamountSports.com. Returning season ticket holders must renew their season tickets by mid-June, 2016. Fans can call the ticket office toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401.