Ezekiel Ennis stands on the field before the U.S. National Team’s 38-0 win over Australia on July 15 in the IFAF U19 World Championship first-round game at Mexico City’s Olympic Stadium.
Wide receiver Ezekiel Ennis isn’t flashy in the modern football player sense, but spend a few minutes with him, and you’ll see why his energetic, upbeat demeanor is perfect for the U.S. National Team.
Ezekiel Ennis poses with teammates before Thursday's team dinner.
Ennis, who's about to enter his sophomore season at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, is the lone National Team player from the 2016 squad that last competed in the International Federation of American Football U19 World Championship. This year’s head coach, Matt Hennesy, said Ennis’ decision had as much to do with that as his playing ability.
“We intentionally put some guys here who understood how it was; the grind of playing three teams in 12 days,” Hennesy said of Ennis. “I’m not just over here coaching for fun. I’ve approached it that way. Zeke’s approached it that way, and it’s starting to spread to the team.”
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Ennis, from Millville, New Jersey, caught 25 passes for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a freshman, and had at least one catch in all seven games in which he played.
He drew attention during his high school playing days, succeeding despite his diminutive stature (5-foot-7, 150 pounds entering his senior year at St. Augustine Prep High School). He's now listed as 6 feet and 185 pounds on the National Team roster.
.@Asvpp_Ennis knows there’s only one chance to be apart of this and he’s doing everything to make the most of it. 💯🔴⚪️🔵#EarnYourStars | #IFAFWCU19 pic.twitter.com/DmbnOPULC8— U.S. National Team (@USNFT) July 21, 2018
Ennis said in some ways, playing in the IFAF event is more difficult than the college game.
“You don’t expect things to be a lot faster than they are,” he said. “The college game slows down for you once you get used to it. Playing this international competition, we see a lot of different speeds. Every team plays fast. In college, some teams are slower than others, but here, everyone is really quick. Everybody competes, everybody wants to win, and everybody competes at the highest level possible.”
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Ennis said when he got the invitation to play in the IFAF World Championships a second time, there was no question he'd take part.
“I have a lot going for myself. In the summertime, I wasn’t going to be doing anything, and once (National Team senior manager Aaron Ingram) gave me this opportunity, I thought this would be great. I have a brother at home (Rob) who I do a lot for in his name. That Long Live 5 thing on my towel is for him. I came down to Mexico to bring him back the gold medal. That obviously didn’t happen, but I’m really doing this experience for him so he can get to see things that he’s probably never going to see.”
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