Of all the stories that have surfaced during the buildup to the 2013 NFL draft, the unlikely path to the top for former BYU star defensive end Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah is one of the most intriguing from any of the prospects in this year’s class.
As a native of Accra, Ghana, Ansah did not start playing football until 2010 after missing the cut for the school’s basketball team two years in a row. While the lack of experience and limited knowledge of the sport will hurt his instant impact at the NFL level, the raw tools he possesses are undeniable.
The talented prospect was listed at the NFL Scouting Combine as 6’5” and 271 pounds, but it was his impressive time of 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash that caught the attention of many teams in attendance.
While there are admittedly some concerns about stamina—the young man is still learning how to train to be an elite football player—the raw power and speed he has shown off the line of scrimmage and the ability to shed blockers and locate the ball-carrier more than make up for his faults.
Ansah was only able to start one season at BYU, but after growing into his body and dedicating himself to bulking up in the weight room—he ballooned up to his current weight for his senior season—the defender became an elite star in college football.
During his senior season, Ansah blossomed into a star, amassing 62 tackles, 4.5 sacks, nine deflected passes, one forced fumble and an interception.
For a player with just over a full year of on-field experience, that’s a promising start.
The defensive prospect went from playing on special teams sparingly in his junior season to lining up as an outside linebacker, defense end and defensive tackle throughout the 2012 campaign.
The improvements Ansah showed throughout his time at BYU are a true testament to the hard work the foreign-born player has committed to the sport of football and the dedication he has to being a star at the highest level.
Ansah’s story is an inspiration for anyone who has been told he couldn’t do something, and the work ethic and drive he has shown throughout his life will be what earns him great and long-lasting success in the NFL.
All stats and information courtesy of NFL.com.