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Path to the Draft: Mekhi Wingo

Checking in with LSU draft prospect Mekhi Wingo ahead of Wednesday's Pro Day in Baton Rouge

by Harrison Valentine | Digital Media Graduate Assistant
Path to the Draft: Mekhi Wingo

LSU’s Mekhi Wingo flashed last month at the NFL Combine after running his 40-yard dash in a sizzling 4.85 seconds, second-fastest among all defensive tackles.

Wingo, the 6-foot-1, 295-pound run-stopper, also posted the fastest 10-yard split of any defensive tackle at 1.64 seconds, putting a final stamp on an impressive showing at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Next stop: Pro Day, with Wingo’s confidence, and draft stock, both on the rise.

“I walked away feeling satisfied with what I put out there,” Wingo said. “It was a great experience, something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child growing up, watching those guys on TV, just hoping I’ll be there one day.”

Wingo still has more to prove, he says, starting on Wednesday at LSU’s Pro Day in Baton Rouge, with intentions to compete in three different events: pro agility shuttle run, three cone drill, plus another bench press.

A 2023 permanent team captain and bearer of LSU’s coveted 18 jersey, Wingo was sidelined five games due to injury, but returned with a standout performance in the Tigers’ bowl game against Wisconsin, accounting for three tackles and two sacks. 

In his sophomore season, Wingo played in all 14 games and started 13, tallying 47 tackles, 6.0 for loss, with three sacks. No defensive lineman in the country played more snaps (821) than Wingo in 2022.

“Before the draft, I just want to work on improving everything,” Wingo said. “Being a better run defender, being a better film watcher, having better eyes, just developing everything because, you know, going to the next level, obviously it’s another step up.”

It’s a step, Wingo says, he feels comfortable taking. Three years of SEC experience, and two years in LSU’s program, which has produced 26 first-round draft picks since 2000, is a big reason why, competing against future draft picks every day he takes the field.

“It’s honestly an NFL environment,” Wingo said of LSU. “You’re held to a high standard. You’re expected to do things a certain way. You’re going up against NFL guys in practice that are going to be first round picks. Every day in practice, you just couldn’t take a snap off.”

Being awarded the prestigious No. 18 jersey – worn by a player who represents the traits and spirit associated with a successful program – was a dream come true for Wingo. Especially after former teammate BJ Ojulari, who, Wingo says, exhibited contagious leadership skills.

“After I watched BJ (Ojulari) last year, and how he handled himself on and off the field, I saw what type of leader he was and it really inspired me,” Wingo said. “I’m the first transfer to ever wear the number so it definitely means a lot to me to represent the number 18. I know what it means to the state of Louisiana.”

Following an NCAA-best 821 snaps recorded in 2022, Wingo was sidelined for the final game of October and all of November in 2023, putting a pause on a promising junior campaign. It was his teammates, he says, that motivated him during rehab, and pushed the heartbeat of the Tigers’ defensive line to return for the bowl game.

“I didn’t feel like I got my full 18 season,” said Wingo. “I wanted to put that number on one more time and be out there with the guys for our last ride … Just the guys around me, knowing that the team is counting on me and they want me out there. That helped me get back.”

Playing in the NFL has always been a goal for Wingo. In fact, taking extra credits in high school, with intentions to play three years in college and eventually turn pro, was all part of the vision.

A vision that, a month from today, is set to be realized.

“Honestly, I’ve always felt it was attainable,” Wingo said. “It was always a goal of mine to go to the NFL. I stuck with my process and did everything on my terms … Everything that I put my mind to in college, I think I’ve accomplished, obviously, except winning that national championship.”