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When Ansah appeared in the door, Mendenhall's eyebrows shot up. This didn't look like a sprinter. He was 6' 6" and 250 pounds, and his shoulders filled the door frame. He didn't appear to have an ounce of fat on his body.
"I want to play football," Ansah said.
"Have you ever played before?"
"Do you know how to play?"
"If you are serious about this," Mendenhall continued, "workouts start tomorrow morning. Our players get here at 5:45. They lift at 6."
Getting up early was the easy part. Despite his size, Ansah had never lifted weights, and he had to be taught how to use the equipment as if he were a sixth-grade bookworm.
It got worse when uniforms were issued on the first day of camp. Jordan Johnson, a freshman defensive back from Springfield, Mass., was suiting up next to Ansah. "He was trying to shove the thigh pad in the knee pad slot," Johnson says. "He couldn't figure out how to put on his shoulder pads. It was hilarious. But nobody laughed at him. He was too big to laugh at."
Ziggy laughs about it now, though. "When I put on my helmet the first time, someone smacked my helmet from the back," he says. "I told myself, This is going to be terrible. I didn't know how I was going to run. The helmet felt so odd."