Ben Banogu

Colts defensive end Ben Banogu is trying to make his stamp on the NFL, but the rookie is still true to his humorous and confident self. (Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)

Ben Banogu just has a way of saying things, especially about himself, that makes you pause for a second and then chuckle.

Is he being serious? Maybe? OK, that was funny.

The Colts rookie defensive end played quarterback growing up but got beat out in high school by Davis Webb, who went on to be drafted by the New York Giants in 2017 and now plays for the Buffalo Bills.

A missed opportunity for Banogu, to be sure.

“So like, Lamar Jackson, he’s doing spin moves and stuff,” Banogu said. “I would’ve been like that, too.”

Don’t doubt it just because he’s a defensive end now. Banogu is 6-foot-3, 252 pounds — two inches shorter and seven pounds heavier than Cam Newton — and his 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine was 4.62 seconds, seventh-best among defensive linemen and edge defenders. (Lamar Jackson didn’t do the 40-yard dash at the combine in 2018 because he felt like that would have made scouts talk about him more as a wide receiver than a quarterback.)

Banogu has obviously done fine for himself as a defensive end. The Colts drafted him in the second round earlier this year, and he’s played in all 10 games. He recorded half of a sack in his first career regular season game against the Chargers.

Banogu could have left school early to play in the NFL. Scouts predicted he could go as high as the first round. But Banogu stuck around at Texas Christian University to get his degree.

“I felt like I went to school for it,” he said. “I feel like it would kind of be disappointing to me if I didn’t go back to school and get it. That’s something I really wanted to do.”

Banogu went to the University of Louisiana-Monroe for two years before transferring to TCU. He started 40 games in college and was named to the All-Big Twelve first team in 2017 and 2018.

Before college, though, Banogu didn’t have much experience at defensive end.

After getting beat out for the starting quarterback job at Prosper High School in Texas, Banogu switched to safety and played some linebacker — another testament to his athleticism — before moving to defensive end.

But even then, he broke his femur and didn’t get much time at the position.

“I just wanted to be out there and just be an athlete and run around and make plays,” Banogu said. “I try not to overthink it. I think that kind of helped show my athleticism.”

Banogu isn’t a starter in the NFL right now, but he said that shouldn’t be the bar for success.

“If it was up to me, I’d play every single snap and never come out,” he said. “If you try to base your success off of that, you won’t really be happy.”

He said it doesn’t necessarily require an attitude adjustment to go from being a bona fide starter to battling for playing time — or changing from quarterback to defensive end.

“You have to have perspective,” he said. “… I feel like you have to have the same attitude every day to do well. You just have to think about where you’re at and the position you got put into and how you can build off of that.”

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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