Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah looks at statistics all day long—the average of tackles and sacks he makes on the football field, the chances of him being drafted to the NFL, and even the probability problems he faces while doing his statistics homework.
An actuarial science major with a minor in math, this 6’6”, 270-pound senior from Accra, Ghana, is practicing statistical methods during the day in class and practicing defense in the evening as a defensive linebacker on the BYU football team.
Balancing school and sports is tough for a lot of athletes, but Ansah proves he can handle it. “He often has to stay late at night at school to finish things by the deadline,” said Brian Holt, Ansah’s tutor. “[But] he seems to handle the stress pretty well.”
The probability that Ziggy will play professional sports is looking high, especially since NFL scouts are often present at football games, watching him demolish opponents play after play.
“I think he has become the kind of football player that NFL teams long to find,” said Jeff Benedict, who wrote a profile about Ansah for Sports Illustrated. “He’s got this very unique combination of speed, size, and strength. It’s very rare that you find a guy who’s that tall and that big and can run as fast as he does, especially laterally.”
Besides being remarkably quick on his feet and with numbers, Ansah has a varied athletic history: he played soccer as a teenager, tried out for the BYU basketball team, ran collegiate track, and could soon be drafted in the NFL. His all-around natural athleticism is hard to miss and very much recognized by his coaches.
“Ziggy’s a remarkable story,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said to the Deseret News. “For this season to go by without acknowledging that three years ago he didn’t know how to put on his gear—to now literally he’s the talk on the West Coast of almost every NFL team and scout that comes through—you could make a movie about it at some point.”