PROVO — BYU senior defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah continues to attract considerable attention — including from National Football League scouts and draft analysts.
Could he end up being a first-round pick in April's NFL draft?
Ansah is a native of Ghana who only started playing football a couple years ago. His improbable journey has been well-chronicled, and his draft stock has been rising rapidly this season.
Mike Mayock, a draft analyst for the NFL Network and a color analyst for NBC's coverage of Notre Dame football, has been impressed with Ansah's pass-rushing ability.
“I was on the phone today with three different NFL teams about Ziggy Ansah,” Mayock said. “(Ansah is) 6-foot-6, 270. Before the season, had little to no NFL rating. Right now, he’s the buzz of the NFL for the upcoming draft. Apparently, everybody on the West Coast, all their scouts are saying ‘Here’s a kid that’s come from nowhere and might be playing his way into the first round next April.’”
Added Mayock: "This kid is special off the edge. No matter who's coming to block him, he's a handful."
Ansah downplays such talk and said he's focused on finishing up his Cougar career. He did say he's been contacted by about 12 agents that are interested in representing him, although he added he will wait to talk to them until after the season.
BYU had a bye Saturday. In last week's 41-17 victory over Georgia Tech, Ansah recorded a team-high eight tackles and also had a sack.
"We don't need to send any pressure (on the quarterback) because Ziggy gets pressure," coach Bronco Mendenhall said after the game. "Any time they were throwing the football, we gave him a free rush. The quarterbacks were doing backwards somersaults after they threw it or before. It's just an amazing story. I hope that it's not lost with what's going on this season because he has a bright future."
BLANKET STATEMENT: Asked this week about when he would prefer to receive his senior blanket on Senior Night next Saturday against Idaho — either before or after the game that's slated to kick off at 8:15 p.m. — senior linebacker Brandon Ogletree said it doesn't matter to him.
"I've never, ever thought about it," he said. "I really couldn't care less. I don't care if they mail it to me in 10 years."
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: BYU has lost three games by a total of seven points, but safety Daniel Sorensen said he is not focusing on the past.
"We're not looking back. At least, I'm not," he said after the Cougars beat Georgia Tech. "The whole object is week by week getting better. The only thing I would think is not letting something like that happen again. It's getting better each week. You can't look back and dwell on mistakes. Hopefully we'll keep this momentum going as we finish out the season and that's all we can really do right now."
BYU VS. BUCKEYE STATE: BYU announced last Thursday that it has set up a home-and-home series with Big East Conference member Cincinnati in 2015 and 2016.
The two teams will meet in Provo in 2015 and in Cincinnati in 2016. That 2016 contest will be the Cougars' first-ever game in the state of Ohio.
"I like this series with Cincinnati," said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe. "It meets our objective of playing in different regions of the country and brings another quality football opponent to LaVell Edwards Stadium."
While the Cougars and Bearcats have never played in football, BYU has faced just two teams from the state of Ohio — Ohio State (in bowl games in 1982, 1985 and 1993) and Bowling Green (in 1975 and 1983 in Provo).
The Cougars are 0-3 against the Buckeyes and 1-1 against the Falcons.