Ezekiel Ansah named Most Outstanding Player for South team in Senior Bowl

On Saturday, NFL scouts, offensive tackle Ricky Wagner, and the rest of the nation learned what Brigham Young Cougars fans have known for awhile: Ezekiel Ansah is a monstah. From the South's first defensive series of the game, Ansah made an impact. He continued to play well all game long and earned the Most Outstanding Player honors for the South team.

Ansah was listed at 6-foot-5, 274 pounds for the game, but he might as well been the size of Goliath. He helped set the tone for the game on the North's first possession of the game. On back-to-back plays (2nd and 3rd downs), Ansah got into the backfield and disrupted the quarterback enough to force incomplete passes. He crashed down the line of scrimmage the next series to tackle the ball carrier for a 1-yard gain. That set up a 2nd and 9 that the North team was unable to convert for a first down. The North team didn't get the ball back again until the second quarter, and they trailed 14-0.

The South defense would keep the North scoreless until the third quarter. The South team would ride this strong start to a 21-16 win.

The stat sheet makes it obvious why Ansah was selected as the South's Most Outstanding Player: 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 batted pass. He led all players in tackles, sacks, and TFLs. He was tied for the most forced fumbles and pass breakups. It was Kyle Van Noy-esque. As impressive as the stats look, they only tell half of the story.

Here is what the stat line doesn't tell you:
  • Ansah chased down a running back on a sweep ran to the opposite side of the field.
  • He shed a blocker and chased down Denard Robinson, possibly the fastest player in college football, in the open field for a 2-yard loss.
  • He nearly had another sack, but his teammate got to the QB a split second before him.
  • He was lined up over Wagner from Wisconsin, a program well known for developing elite offensive line talent, much of the game and owned him.
Ansah's biggest play of the game came on the final play of the third quarter. The North team had closed the gap to 14-10 with scores on its last two possessions. The North was on the move again. After starting on its own 26-yard line, the North team was now at the South's 45. On 3rd and 7, Ansah sacked the quarterback for a 12-yard loss. The play resulted in 22 yards lost as Ansah knocked the ball loose while making the sack. It rolled backwards 10 more yards before a North player fell on it.

The Senior Bowl game is just one of many pieces in the NFL Draft evaluation process. The next opportunity Ansah has to improve his draft position is the NFL Draft Combine February 20-26. The draft will be April 25-27.

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