‘I’m the kid who came from Egypt.’ Boise State defensive lineman finding his groove

Boise State junior Ahmed Hassanein is the first Division I football player ever to come to Egypt. He will contribute at the Broncos’ edge position.
Since he moved back to the United States from Egypt at the age of 16, Boise State defensive lineman Ahmed Hassanein has gotten used to a lot of aspects of American culture.
But there are still some things he hasn’t fully grasped.
“I don’t get sarcasm at all,” Hassanein said.
It’s just one aspect of the learning curve Hassanein faces as the first Division I football player from Egypt. But thankfully things on the field come much more naturally to the 6-foot-3, 271-pound junior.
“I couldn’t imagine. I have a lot of respect for him,” Boise State linebacker Marco Notarainni said. “That’s a huge jump, coming to a country that you don’t know, language you don’t know, sport you don’t know. And then to come here is just nothing short of special. I know he won’t stop at that, which is why I respect him even more.”
Hassanein was born in the U.S. but moved to Egypt with his father when he was 6. He came back to the U.S. at 16 when his brother, Cory Besch, convinced him to come play football at Loara High in Anaheim, California, where Besch was teaching and serving as offensive coordinator for the football team.
He later caught the eye of Boise State defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson at a summer camp in 2020 and signed with the Broncos in December of that year.
Ever since, Hassanein has been absorbing everything he can from Danielson, Boise State edge coach Jabril Frazier and his teammates.
“I’m the kid who came from Egypt who really didn’t know anything about football,” Hassanein said. “I just kept taking it step by step. I’m looking at my mentors, like George (Tarlas) and Scott (Matlock) ... I was just looking at them and learning from them and just applying it to my game.”
Hassanein played in nine games as a freshman in 2021, making his collegiate debut against Utah State. Last season, he again saw action in nine games, including making three consecutive starts against Nevada (Nov. 12), Wyoming (Nov. 19) and Utah State (Nov. 25). He notched his first career sack and forced his first career fumble against UT Martin.
While he played primarily at defensive end last season, Hassanein said he shed 20 pounds during the offseason in anticipation of a transition to edge this season.
“You’ve seen his body change and transform, and now he’s an impressive, violent football player that we’re very excited about and we’re gonna need,” Danielson said. “It’s cool to see like (sixth-year senior) Demitri Washington, who’s in the same room with him, really help him grow and not only just what it takes physically to play that position, but what it takes mentally and all it takes to prep, especially with how we play our edges.”
As much as he’s learned from his Boise State football family, Hassanein gave back to one of his teammates this summer, taking Notarainni, who is his roommate, back to Egypt with him.
“There was a lot of really cool things that we saw,” Notarainni said. “But my favorite part was really seeing how Ahmed is the way he is because of where he’s from and experiencing that culture.”
Danielson says Hassanein “cares deeply for his teammates and that brotherhood,” which makes him an easy player to root for.
“I have so much faith in Ahmed. His work ethic is something that sets the tone,” Notarainni said. “Everybody aspires to have that same work ethic as him. And football-wise, first thing, he was just a brute. ... Now he’s got a lot more technique in his background ... and he’s got exponentially better. I’m really excited for him to really step into that role and represent.”
Boise State’s projected edge position
The starter: Sixth-year senior Demitri Washington leads this group after starting nine games last season with 35 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
The backup: Redshirt junior Gabe Hunter appeared in 10 games last season, starting four of the Broncos’ last five games.
In the rotation: Junior Ahmed Hassanein and Boston College transfer Kivon Wright (redshirt freshman).

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