Our take: Former BYU defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah is one of the latest examples of football players making it to the professional level despite not playing the sport more than a few years. In the past several months, celebrities like former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner to United States President Barack Obama have expressed their opinions that they would not encourage their sons to play football at a young age. NFL.com analyst Akbar Gbajabiamila says that Ansah and SMU's Margus Hunt have shown the raw ability to succeed in the NFL, even though they are relatively new to football, and their stories show that youth don't need to be subjected to the physical nature of football so soon in life.
Defensive ends Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah and Margus Hunt will show up at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with a combined seven years of football playing experience. They'll leave knowing they will be two of the more sought-after hybrid defensive players in the draft (Mike Mayock lists both among his top five defensive ends).
Ansah and Hunt won't be the first players to find their way to the NFL with ultra-limited exposure to America's game, but they'll be the latest, and they just might help redefine the starting age for playing youth football. At the very least, their stories should give parents pause when considering the question of when to play ball.
Ansah is a defensive end from BYU whose stock has been on the rise since a standout performance in Mobile. I was very intrigued by his story because of our similarities. Both of us have origins in West Africa (I was born in the United States to Nigerian immigrant parents; he is originally from Ghana), we both played the same defensive end position, and we both started playing football fairly late.
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