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Ansah among NFL hopefuls at BYU's Pro Day

Published: Thursday, March 28 2013 5:30 p.m. MDT

BYU's Ezekiel Ansah, right, takes a breather from running drills during the 2013 Pro Day at BYU in Provo on Thursday.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

PROVO — Sixteen players participated in BYU's annual Pro Day, but there was one main attraction.

That would be defensive lineman Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, who has generated national attention with his unique story, the one about his meteoric rise from unknown novice to dominating playmaker. He's projected to be a top-15 pick in the upcoming National Football League draft.

Ansah, a native of Ghana who started just nine games in his career for the Cougars, participated in the NFL Combine in February and turned heads with his 4.63 time in the 40-yard dash.

While Ansah did not run the 40 Thursday at the BYU indoor practice facility, he did go through the paces in a number of other drills.

"I just decided not to run," Ansah explained. "I don't think there was anything I could do to impress anybody out here. I know I'm fast."

Ansah's impressive time at the Combine in Indianapolis certainly helped raise his draft stock. Some draft experts project him to be a top-5 selection.

"That's why we didn't have him run here. There was no need to," said Dan VanWoerkom, one of Ansah's agents. "This is Ziggy showing that he's willing to let any of the coaches come in and do a last check on him, make sure he's still healthy and get that last little feeling for where he's at. It's been great. We're excited for him."

NFL scouts representing at least 10 teams worked out the 16 NFL hopefuls. A coach from the Oakland Raiders — who own the No. 3 pick overall in the draft — spent considerable time with Ansah, putting him through position-specific drills designed to evaluate his skill set.

"After this, I'm going to lunch with the Raiders' coach," Ansah said. "I'll see what he's got for me."

Just where could Ansah land in the draft?

"We don't know," VanWoerkom said. "He's got strong potential to be picked in the top 15. I think everybody knows that. But nobody in the press has a pick. We don't have a pick. It's the teams that pick. They'll decide. None of us know that. We're waiting to see like everyone else."

Meanwhile, former Cougars Braden Brown, Ian Dulan, DeQuan Everett, Romney Fuga, Preston Hadley, Braden Hansen, Reed Hornung, Uona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree and Riley Stephenson all participated in Pro Day.

So did two former BYU players who were suspended by coach Bronco Mendenhall last year — Joe Sampson and O'Neill Chambers. Both returned to campus to show the scouts what they can do.

Defensive lineman Russell Tialavea did not work out due to injury.

Braden Brown's brother, Les Brown — who also attended Pro Day last year and ended up signing a contract with the Miami Dolphins — participated Wednesday, as did former Cougar Malosi Te'o and Dixie State product Cache Morgan.

"Most of the people here are interested in the one guy (Ansah), but there are other players with ability, other guys that will be drafted or free agents," said director of college scouting for the New Orleans Saints, Rick Reiprish.

Besides Ansah, Braden Brown could be another Cougar who hears his name called during the draft.

"If a team believes in me in the third round, that would be awesome," said Brown, an offensive lineman who prepped at Highland High. "I feel like I've worked really hard. I feel like I deserve a shot to play in the NFL because I've sacrificed a lot and worked really hard my whole life to play in the NFL."

Ogletree, a linebacker who ran a 4.61 in the 40, enjoyed his Pro Day experience.

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