By design, Byron Nelson’s spring football game last month didn’t have a lot of pizzazz to it. But the game did reveal the potential of junior wide receiver Pascal Mondombo.
All it took was one throw.
On the first-team offense’s second possession, quarterback Preston Haire threw a deep ball down the near sideline. Mondombo (6-2, 180) never broke stride, fended off the Bobcat cornerback and came down with indescribable circus catch for a touchdown. The play covered about 35 yards.
“Haire and I have this connection,” Mondombo said. “Wherever he puts the ball, it’s my duty to get it. I tracked it in the air and knew that ball was mine. You know when you get that feeling that you’re going to make a play.”
The Bobcats passing attack in 2014 lacked consistency and a difference maker. That contributed to slower adjustment to Class 6A than what was hoped. Nelson finished 3-7.
Mondombo was part of a trio of sophomore receivers swimming their way through a very difficult transition. Haire completed 47 percent of his passes. No Nelson receiver had more than 19 receptions. No Nelson receiver had more than 300 yards. But Mondombo (13-294, 3TD) carried big-play potential every time he made a catch. He averaged 22.6 yards per reception.
Head coach Brian Polk hopes that talent, ability and consistency come together this fall. Mondombo will be the go-to receiver. The foundation is there. Mondombo runs a 4.53 40-yard dash and has a 33-inch vertical.
“He just has the natural athletic ability to play there,” Polk said. “The problem is with the consistency. From a football-savvy standpoint, he’s still learning that part of the game. He’s a smooth runner. He doesn’t look fast, but he’s fast when he’s in and out of his breaks. He has great hands. He can go up and catch it. Pascal has the tools.”
Year 2 in the highest classification carries the hopes for the Bobcats to make significant improvement. They lost five games by a touchdown or less. Polk and his offensive staff have talked with Mondombo about his role. Polk said the staff loves Mondombo’s competitive streak.
They have also made it clear to him that he will likely garner a lot of attention from opposing secondary personnel and defensive coaches. They liked the response that Mondombo offered. It wasn’t in what he said but the smile he offered.
“It’s really an X-factor, but he knows it’s time to grow up,” Polk said. “He knows he’s going to be productive.”
Should Mondombo put together the season that everybody hopes, then it could mean something for him playing in college. He said he did not attend any summer college camps. However, it helps that he’s teammates of two major Division I prospects in offensive tackle Kellen Diesch, who just committed to Arkansas, and defensive end Brandon Bowen.
“My first goal is to bring it to the team,” he said. “If you play for your team, good things will happen. I want to help us get to the playoffs.”