When Ezekiel Ansah was first learning to put on a football uniform, he was being coached by Coach Kaufusi on the defensive line, where he was learning to play the two-gap as a right tackle. As a sophomore learning the ropes for the first time, Ansah saw the field in six games in 2010.
“Yeah, I first started on the defensive line,” Ansah said. “That is where I first learn to play and I like the position. Then I moved out to the linebacker position to learn that, so I first went from d-tackle to outside linebacker.”
Handed off to outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga, Ansah excelled as a rush Will outside linebacker and saw action in 12 games last year, in addition to playing on special teams.
“I was learning to play on the defensive line and then I got switched to outside linebacker,” Ansah said. “Then I had to learn a new position all over again, but I was doing good learning to play outside linebacker. At first I was frustrated because I was switched, but then I liked outside [linebacker] better.”
Now, Ansah has been moved back in the trenches and is practicing with the defensive line, but this time at the left tackle position.
“At first I was frustrated, you know, because I was playing outside linebacker for a long time,” Ansah said. “It was frustrating for me because I have to learn the position all over again. The coaches just kept motivating me to keep going and now I’m doing better.”
Tuesday’s practice was the Ezekiel Ansah show. From his new defensive tackle position, Ansah recorded a tackle for a loss against running back Paul Lasike. He got a good push on the following play, and batted down a James Lark pass.
“My thing is to just rush and get the quarterback, and that’s what I get to do,” Ansah said. “I have to make some inside moves and use my hands, but it’s been a lot of fun making plays now.”
Five plays after batting down the pass, Ansah beat the left tackle to make a play on running back Nate Carter for a loss, but Ansah wasn’t finished disrupting the offense during team practice just yet. Two plays later he was again in the backfield, where he was able to recover a fumble after disrupting the exchange between the quarterback and running back.
“I wouldn’t say I like it better but I’m enjoying it,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s not easy but all the effort I put into it and all the motivation I get from my teammates and coaches really helps me a lot. It’s fun.”
Now playing with his hand on the ground instead of standing up on the outside, Ansah feels that by having played outside linebacker, he has a better overall grasp of the individual responsibilities of the players up front.
“It’s an advantage, you know, having played another position because you can learn different things about the defense and responsibilities of the other players,” he said. “Yeah, you know what the other guys are doing and what their responsibilities are.”
Ansah’s journey back to the defensive line hasn’t been easy, but he is readjusting to his old position and feels it will be better for him in the long run.
“It hasn’t been an easy road for me, but I can see the progress I’ve made and think it will be better for me,” Ansah said. “I just have to keep working harder and I love playing [for] Coach Kaufusi. It’s been a lot of fun and worth it because I feel it will be better for me in the end.”