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More on Ansah's incredible ascension to NFL draft prospect

Published December 19, 2012 11:08 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Two days of off-and-on rain have given way to clear, sunny skies in San Diego on Wednesday, and more perfect weather is expected Thursday night when BYU and San Diego State kick off at Qualcomm Stadium. Most observers are saying the outcome will depend on whether BYU's stingy defense can throttle San Diego State's powerful rushing attack. And that's where BYU's Ziggy Ansah comes in. The native of Ghana, along with nose tackle Romney Fuga and Russell Tialavea will have to occupy SDSU's blockers and give linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Brandon Ogletree, Spencer Hadley and Uona Kaveinga the chance to make plays. Ansah will also need to spend some time in SDSU's backfield, disrupting an offense that's perhaps more balanced than any offense the Cougars have faced this year. Ansah's rapid ascent in college football, and his NFL draft possibilities, is the topic of this story in today's Tribune. A couple of comments about Ansah that didn't make the article: Linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga on Ansah's big learning curve: "The first stance he got into was like a little frog stance, like he was going to leapfrog or something. ... He was getting trucked by guys that were half his size. He just didn't understand the whole leverage side of it. His first year, we were running him down on kickoffs, and he was just running [in a straight line]. He didn't know the object of the game was to tackle the guy with the ball. Things like that. Just to see how far he has come .... Honestly, he understands our defense better than almost anyone. Probably next to Kyle [Van Noy], there is not another guy that understands it better than [Ziggy]."Popping on what he's hearing from NFL scouts about Ansah: "For Ziggy, a lot of upside. They love how strong he is, how fast he is, how big he is. Those three things combined, it is very rare to find a guy like that. And then they just love his upside. Not playing football for so long, they know he is just scratching the surface of what he can become, and just every scout that has come in here has been amazed at how fast he has been able to pick up the game. That's the first question they always ask, is how smart is he? and How fast can he pick up something? He can pick up our scheme really fast. He can play probably five positions on our defense. I don't think there is another guy on our team that can do that. So that just goes to tell you how smart he is. So they are very impressed with that, and I mean, first or second-round pick is what everybody is saying. Obviously, he will have to do some good things at the combine and the Pro Day, things like that. But he has put his name out there, and surely there have been more scouts come through here than any other year, and that is saying something with John Beck being here, and Austin Collie and Dennis Pitta — guys that came through here on offense. There have been more scouts for this guy than in any other year. Really, that's impressive for a guy who has been playing only one year, really, of football." BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree on whether he's surprised he's been playing next to a potential NFL first-rounder: "We knew how good he was midway through last season when he was just so dominant running down on kickoff coverage. He was probably going to get drafted just off that, as much as anything else. He literally dominated that aspect of the game. I was surprised, beginning in the Boise State game when Eathyn [Manumaleuna] got hurt, he came in and just played like a stud. I think that's when we realized this dude, he really has no ceiling. That's how far he can go. It has been really fun watching him evolve, and just his understanding and awareness, and just how tough he has gotten. He used to be the least physical player on the team. Now, there is probably no one as physical as he is. His whole mindset has evolved, so it has been really fun to watch."Kyle Van Noy on when he believed Ziggy had NFL potential: "I mean, for me, I always thought Ziggy would do really well. I didn't know that he had NFL first-round potential, but I knew he would be pretty legit at football. He was just raw. He still is raw. But the potential he has is more than anyone I have ever seen play a sport, actually. So it is fun to watch and be around him. I am just glad I can be on the ride with him. No matter what success I have, or how that comes to me, I think having someone that succeeds more than you is so much better than your own. That's why I am so happy for him, is because it is him doing it."