(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BYU defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah has been named a semifinalist for the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy, honoring the nation's top player who began his career as a walk-on.
A walk-on is defined as a player who began his first season of participation with a Division-I (FBS) football program without financial aid of any kind from his university’s athletic department.
Ansah, a senior, began his career in football three years ago, having never played the game in his life growing up in Accra, Ghana. Originally a track athlete with incredible size and speed, Ansah was introduced to football and has quickly picked up the game. From learning how to put his football pads on three years ago to now a starter at defensive end on the No. 3 defense in the nation, Ansah's road from walk-on to starter is truly unique.
The 6-foot-6, 270 pounder is currently fourth on the team in tackles with 53 and has 12.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, both good for second-best on the team. His 12.0 tackles for loss are tied for 44th nationally.
Fans will be allowed to vote for Ansah via the AT&T Fan Vote beginning today, Nov. 20 at 2:30 PM CST. Voting can be accessed at www.burlsworthtrophy.com and will begin with the top 10 semi-finalists and continue as the selection committee announces the top three Burlsworth Trophy finalists on Nov. 27. Fans are limited to one vote per day, and the voting will conclude on Nov. 26 at 12:00 a.m. CST. Finalists will be honored and the winner of the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy announced Dec. 3 at a banquet in Springdale, Ark., sponsored by the Springdale Rotary Club.
The 2011 winner was quarterback, Austin Davis from the University of Southern Mississippi. In his four-year career at USM, Davis amassed 10,727 passing yards, 81 touchdown passes and 12,082 yards in total offense. Davis was drafted this year and is now a reserve quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. The inaugural recipient in 2010 was two-time All-ACC center Sean Bedford from Georgia Tech.
“We are extremely proud of this group of nominees for the 2012 Burlsworth Trophy,” said Marty Burlsworth, CEO and founder of the Burlsworth Foundation and brother of Brandon. “All of these young men have worked very hard to get to where they are. The stories behind these players are incredible and they are all winners in my book.”
Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon Burlsworth walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.
The 2012 Burlsworth Trophy Semifinalists