The NFL Draft is coming up next month, and BYU will be losing one of its best players: defensive end Ziggy Ansah. But in some ways, that couldn’t be better news for the Cougars.
Ansah is sure to get BYU back in the draft business.
While BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has often proclaimed football is fifth on his priority list, that makes it difficult to attract players with NFL aspirations. Ansah, though, is expected to be selected among the top 15. Some predict he’ll be in the top five. That’s especially good news for BYU since it hasn’t had a player drafted since 2010.
It’s a tough balance for Mendenhall to maintain. On one hand, he says spiritual development, academic achievement, character and service are his first four priorities, followed by being “really, really good at football.”
On the other hand, will aspiring NFL stars — even top LDS ones — go along with that priority list?
Next year, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy is a near-certain bet to be drafted, too.
So things are picking up.
One thing is clear: BYU needs to start sending more players to the NFL if it wants to play for the national championship – a goal Mendenhall stated when the Cougars went independent. A big selling point in recruiting is whether your program leads to an NFL career. But in the last 10 years, 12 players have been drafted from BYU, five of them in the last five years.
By comparison, in the past decade rival Utah has had 25 players drafted, 13 in the last five years.
So while Mendenhall’s priority list is laudable, attracting the best LDS athletes will be tough if BYU can’t get them to the NFL.
Thus, this year’s draft will be a welcome one for Mendenhall. Ansah will be getting BYU back where it needs to be: producing good people who can also play on Sundays.