Bengals interested to BYU linebacker Uani Unga

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Van Noy isn't the only BYU linebacker the Bengals are interested in.

The Cincinnati Bengals attended the pro day of BYU last week, and most thought the player they'd be most interested in was outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

They were interested in a linebacker, but it wasn't Van Noy. It was middle linebacker Uani Unga (Pronounced "Juan-ee OONG-uh"), according to Benjamin Criddle of 1280 The Zone.

It was Unga who was actually considered the MVP of the Cougars defense after registering 143 tackles this past season. He had his best game against the team's best opponent, notching 19 tackles and one tackle for loss against Notre Dame. Unga also had 15 tackles vs. Wisconsin. Unga was also named to the Butkus Award watch list, which honors the nation's top college linebacker each year.

So why isn't he generating a lot of buzz?

Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in the team's bowl game vs. Washington, and now probably won't be ready to practice when NFL training camps open. Depending on how well his rehab progresses, he could even miss the beginning of his rookie year, and either way, he shouldn't be expected to contribute to an NFL team in 2014.

Unga isn't letting the injury damage his spirits though, and he believes he can be ready by the time camp opens:

"It’s a six-month recovery process," Unga said, via The Daily Herald. "I looking for a quick recovery and hopefully a stronger knee. I think the most important thing is to get better. Without my knee, there is no way I’d be able to play."

Unga is projected as a late-round/priority free agent, which means it's good that the Bengals coaches are already showing their interest in him and perhaps even establishing a relationship.

With undrafted free agents, they'll often sign with the teams who showed significant interest in them during the scouting process.

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