A closer look at Ziggy Ansah, Star Lotulelei and 17 other 2013 NFL draft prospects from Utah universities

Published: Monday, April 22 2013 9:50 a.m. MDT

Ezekiel Ansah, BYU Next » 1 of 19 « Prev
Position: Defensive line

Height and weight: 6-5, 271

2012 stats: Totaled 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, six quarterback hurries and nine pass breakups.

Ezekiel Ansah’s amazing ascension from unknown novice to coveted pass rusher is well-documented, as media outlets from around the country, including Sports Illustrated and ESPN, have chronicled his story.

Just years removed from living in Ghana and knowing nothing about football, the freakishly athletic Ansah has received considerable attention despite starting just nine games in his collegiate career.

“It’s an amazing thing that he wasn’t recruited, then he finds himself at BYU,” said Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall. “To see him having the success he is having is so much fun. It’s an amazing story. As Ziggy would probably tell you, he was on the verge of quitting football 50-plus times over his three years here because of how difficult the transition was.”

ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. projects Ansah as a top-5 pick.

“He’s enjoyed as meteoric of a rise up the board as any player in my 35 years covering the draft,” Kiper said. “I would say (he goes) 2 to Jacksonville or 5 to Detroit. At worst, 8 to Buffalo. That’s amazing considering he was off the radar — completely undrafted — when the season began.”

Career highlights/honors: Named MVP of Senior Bowl in January. Named Pro Football Weekly All-America honorable mention, Phil Steele and FBS All-Independent First Team. Was invited to NFL scouting combine.

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The Rock
Federal Way, WA

Ziggy can zig
Ziggy can zag
Ziggy can run but not as fast as Ute tongues wag

When first to BYU Ziggy came
The end zone he could not name.

He put his pads in the wrong place.
He knew not which goal he should face.

Ziggy was fast, strong and smart.
After three years he did start.

He runs like the wind and hits like a truck
He plants opposing quarterbacks like sitting ducks

The insults from Utes they do quadruple
Ziggy's like the Borg, resistance is futile

Bountiful, UT

with KR results like that and NFL combine numbers off the chart (40 time, vertical, etc) and Utah struggling on offense the past 2 seasons, why didn't they utilize Reggie Dunn more on offense?

Not using this kid more on offense to take advantage of his blazing speed, etc looks as bad on Kyle as his blunder with the whole QB fiasco the past 2 yrs with Jordan Wynn and Jon Hays.

Major blunder. Kyle's looking more and more like he can't handle the pressure of coaching in the Pac12. Good thing Dennis Erickson is under contract. Maybe Chris Hill isn't good in the moment handling problems like his swim team, rugby, etc but he is good at planning ahead. I think he showed some good sense in grabbing Kyle's replacement while he was still available. Erickson would've been gone if Hill waited until the end of the season after another likely last place finish in the Pac12.

Cedar City, Utah

Can't wait to see how Brad Sorenson does. he will be a great addition to an NFL team.

Lehi, UT

Wishing every single one of these guys the best of luck!!!!!

Overton, NV

Re: Hedgehog

Some guys have amazing stats in combine drills, but just don't have the head for football. Maybe the reason Dunn didn't play more is because he couldn't learn the playbook. Who knows? If he ends up in the NFL and does well, hindsight might say that Whitt should have used him more. But, maybe there was a good reason he didn't.

More Mature Y Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

Unfortunately Reggie Dunn's hands are as poor at their game as his feet are good at it. Utah did try getting him the ball in space where he could work one-on-one with bubble screens and end arounds and unfortunately for them it did not work.

Hardly a fiasco. Coach Whittingham used Dunn where he was most effective, tried him in other situations, found that they didn't work and stopped trying them. If there is a fiasco in my mind it's the mishandling of Ezekiel Ansah by the BYU coaching staff. It's unconscionable that a top ten draft talent didn't play until his senior year and then only due to injury. I see this situation as the main reason that BYU needs a new leader to bring it back to national significance.

Go Utes, CA

"As Ziggy would probably tell you, he was on the verge of quitting football 50-plus times over his three years here because of how difficult the transition was.”"

Nice, Coach Mendenhall. Taking the opportunity to sow a little doubt in the scouts's minds just before the draft in order to make yourself look better for failing to use Ziggy to his full potential?

provo, UT

More Mature Y Fan,
Thank you for your civic dialog on these discussions. If both sides of the rivalry were more like you, we could have more mature discussions. And not silly rhymes!! Thank you from a Utah fan!

Lincoln City, OR

"Maturity" and "Knowledge" of the sport and the personnel is not something that is "Proclaimed" it is "Earned" and "Demonstrated"... In my book, a couple of comments in this article and some previous ones fall short of earning the title of "Mature".

I believe it to be quite understandable that a Foreign Student who probably didn't even know what "football" was let alone knowing how to play was not discovered or developed earlier... The guy was a Soccer fan and a Track athlete that wanted to play Basketball... I actually give Mendenhall credit for turning the rock into a diamond in 2 short years.

Oh, and "D"... The Rhyme at least contained some substance... Don't be jealous.

Orem, UT

More mature, just cause Ziggy is a top ten pick does not mean he was ready to start before this year. He is being drafted off freakish size and athletic ability, not numbers. Remember he only played two years of college football. He was pretty raw the first half of the season. He would have been way to raw his first year to even consider starting him. As far as a better coach, yes Mendenhall has messed up some seasons, but he has also produced some very good seasons. His numbers are comparable to Edwards are at this point in their careers. And Mendenhall is playing much better competition. Also remember to coach at BYU you have to be active LDS. That leaves a coaching pool of maybe ten to fifteen people nationwide. Realistically who do you think would be better and represent the church?

Mission Viejo, CA

Ziggy and Star will both play in the pros. The only question is where and for whom.

If I were picking, I'd want both, but would pick Ziggy first. His upside is nothing less than Hall of Fame potential. The NFL coaches will teach him. And, as I've said elsewhere, I pity da foos who pass on him. He'll be sacking their QBs and stuffing their runs.

Like I pity the foos who passed on Mike Trout! Next Micky Mantle? Sure looks like it. When you see a natural, you grab him.

Stop The Nonsense
El Paso, TX

As a BYU fan, I've got to hand it to Utah and USU for all the NFL talent they are coaching up. Sure would like to see a little more of that from BYU, though I do feel the emphasis on off-field development is important, too. At least the NFL draft drought from BYU should be over (hopefully for good) with next year's crop including KVN & Hoffman at the very least.

Clarendon Hills, IL

Query: Did Braden Brown star as Johnny Lawrence in The Karate Kid? "Sweep the leg!"


Stop the nonsense,
Yes, it has been fun to tease BYU fans about the recent draft drought, it does appear that the fun will come to an end for the next couple of seasons at least.

Go Utes, CA

Have I been blocked? Why? I made a comment regarding coach mendenhall's statement that Ziggy wanted to quit football. I think this comment was selfish and potentially could impact Zigggy's draft position. You censors may disagree, but I cannot understand why would refuse to publish the comment. It was sincere and civil and directly related to a quote contained in the portion of the article about Ziggy. I would really appreciate an explanation. Especially considering some of the silly comments that apparently pass muster.

Layton, UT

provo, UT

More Mature Y Fan,
Thank you for your civic dialog on these discussions. If both sides of the rivalry were more like you, we could have more mature discussions. And not silly rhymes!! Thank you from a Utah fan!

Says the guy whose screen name pokes fun at a fan on the other side of the rivalry. Duckhunted: please don't be so condescending to assume that we can't see through your tactic of using backhanded compliments to cover up your real tactic of demagoguing your opponents just well enough to hide your strawmen.

Enid, OK

First, the poem by "The Rock" is AWESOME! Any Ute fan that comments negatively about it or the player it touts is simply jealous. Period.

Second, good luck to ALL the players.

I didn't know Star's statistics were so impressive. Nice job.

Nor did I know that Southern Utah had a giant at QB. What was he?...like 6'4" and 230 lbs? Tall enough to see over an offensive line, heavy enough to take a hit and apparently with a cannon of an arm. Wow! I LOVE Max Hall but I know Max would practically kill to have a body frame that size. If he had, Max would be playing in the NFL for 15 years.

Again, good luck to everyone! Make the state of Utah proud.

Co Cougars!!!

Mcallen, TX

Wow! Utah without a Kruger, or Star, is like a car without gas. Happy towing.

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