Ezekiel Ansah: A Ziggy Path to the NFL


My name is Ezekial Ansah, and I go by Ziggy. In Africa, ya know I come out of Ghana. Growing up, I was like playing sports all
over the place First I came out here on an academic scholarship. I just, like, came to the United States thinking that I’m gonna make the BYU basketball team. I tried out for two years, then I decided to do track. I finally decided in 2010 to go try out for football. (Mendenhall) When Ziggy walked through my office door And I asked him if he’d ever played before he said, “No.” He was like “It’s not like soccer” and I was like “I know, but ya know just give me a shot.” So I ask him to show up
the next morning. The weightlifting group was at six o’clock
and he showed up every day and we decided to let him go through a spring practice. [chuckles] That was a struggle, I didn’t even know how to put on my pads, one of my teammates helped me out. He made it five or ten minutes of practice
before he was just flat on his back and that was one of maybe fifty-plus
times that he tried to quit. It wasn’t easy at first at all, I wouldn’t lie to you, but um I just kept working hard and just trying to get better every single day. That’s when he kinda captured my heart is because he was resilient and because he kept getting up and kept
coming back. At the end of each season we never knew if he’d make it back because he didn’t have any money. He worked on campus as a custodian and he found a way to come back. I still wanna play pro so I’m gonna work hard. Next year’s gonna be my senior year. That is when I’ve gotta shine. Game announcer: “Drive, under pressure, sacked! Ezekial Ansah! He keeps showing up at BYU! There’s a reason NFL scouts like this guy! It is absolutely remarkable that he went from not knowing how to put on his gear to those kind of remarkable things usually take an entire lifetime He’s very smart, very very cerebral. Very very analytical… For this season to go to now being literally being the talk on the west coast of almost every NFL team, a scout comes
through– it’s amazing. It means a lot, ya know, just to represent BYU and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was 19 when I got baptized. You can’t do anything without God. He gives me the talent that I have. All I gotta do is use it right. BYU’s a really great place This is not just all about football. Not a lot of people in my family were able to graduate. I did Acturial Science and I’m minoring in business so, ya know, just being able to graduate in April means a lot to me and my family. Announcer: “Ziggy Ansah!” [crowd cheers] I really appreciate this…BYU’s always gonna be in my heart. I didn’t just come through BYU, BYU went through me. (Mendenhall) For him to be at BYU, play football, we didn’t recruit him, I
didn’t know anything about him… he walked into my office…didn’t have a scholarship for two of his three years… And now he’s going to be a first-round pick…I’m not sure that’s ever happened in college football before. That I’ve been able to be a small
part of his life has really been a blessing. Ziggy Ansah…he’s 6’6”, 270 lbs… black kid from West Africa, Ghana… He’s looking forward to doing great things in the NFL… He is someone who’s not gonna ever give up.

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