'100% Coach Prime' - Why NFL Academy's Yahya Attia chose Colorado despite two other offers

The Colorado Buffaloes have been boosted by new commit, Egyptian-born and Austrian-raised offensive lineman Yahya Attia, who chose the Buffaloes over offers from Campbell and Long Island for one reason only.

Although Colorado was the third college to make an offer for Attia, he knew as soon as they were in the mix that he had found the right fit. Part of his motivation, naturally, was playing for former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Deion 'Coach Prime' Sanders.

"I mean, it's 100% Coach Prime -- Coach Primetime -- an idol for many people out there. I'm pretty sure under his coaching, I will be a great player," Attia told ESPN.

However, the former 2x Super Bowl winner has yet to tell Attia, who will join from the NFL Academy at Loughborough in England for the upcoming season, precisely what he is looking for from him.

"I can imagine what he wants from me, but I didn't have any conversation with Coach Prime yet. I talked a lot with the O-line coach, Phil Loadholt," Attia said when asked if he and Sanders had spoken.

Despite the fact that even one of the best athletes the NFL Academy has produced - Tennessee's Emmannuel Okoye - struggled for playing time after being thrown into the cut-throat environment of high stakes college football, Attia is confident that he will get at least some action in his freshman year.

"I expect [to be] playing and getting some reps in my first year. The only thing I can say is that I'm going to go out there and compete, fight for every rep. I'm hungry; I just want to play and I expect myself getting some reps in the first year," Attia said.

Arguably, this remarkable confidence has enabled him to rise up the ranks despite only playing American football for the first time two years ago in Austria, where he was raised after he left Egypt with his family at three years old.

Attia's athleticism got him to the NFL Academy, but once he arrived there, he had to refine his technique - no longer to rely on brute force against players who could match up to him physically.

"My technique got much better. Before I came here, I wasn't good. The coaches told me: 'Trust us. We're going to form you and make you into a great player.' Now, I'm really good at playing this sport. I'm athletic; I understand the game," Attia said.

"My personality changed on and off the field. I think I'm a better person now. I'm stronger mentally - and in my body, of course.

"Of course, from all the facilities - everything in Loughborough: the trainers, the staff - helped me a lot going to the next level."

He added: "When I was in Vienna, I won my reps because of my athleticism, height and weight because I was one of the biggest guys over there. The D-linemen were much smaller than me and lighter, so it was easier to win the reps. It wasn't because of technique; it was just because of my body.

"When I came to the NFL Academy, it was the first time I got humbled a bit because the defensive ends are the same height as you; they're strong in the gym and they have the technique, so that's how I started to build my technique and become a better player."

A keen student of the game, Attia has been modeling his game on the Detroit Lions' Penei Sewell, although when Sewell was at Oregon, Attia had not yet even found the sport.

"I always say the player my DB coach over here (Cam Winston) showed me was Penei Sewell - he's my idol now. I always watch his tape from Oregon and from the Detroit Lions. He's an athletic player. I love to watch him and learn from him and I just want to be like him," Attia said.

American football is growing in Austria, but Attia believes it can take off in Egypt too given the right exposure. While basketball is popular in North Africa, American football has not attracted the same fanfare.

"I think if American football grows a bit more in the Arab countries, we would have many more great players over there," he said. "They're all athletic - they just need the contact with the sport."