He was born on January 25, 1991 and attended George-Little Rock High in George, IA. He redshirted his first year at South Dakota and missed the following year due to academic issues. As a redshirt sophomore, he started 11 games at defensive end and finished with 51 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 7 forced fumbles and 2 recoveries. He earned 1st team All-Great West Conference honors that year. As a junior, he moved to outside linebacker and started 10 of 11 games. He finished the year with 74 tackles, 7 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and a blocked kick. He earned 2nd team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference and was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in FCS sub-division. He also earned MVFC honor roll that year. As a senior, he started 11 of 12 games at outside linebacker, recording 71 tackles, 15 for loss, 9 sacks, 1 interception, 4 pass breakups, and 4 forced fumble. He was once again a Buck Buchanan finalist, earned MVFC Defensive Player of the Year and 1st team All-MVFC honors. He was also named a 2nd team FCS All-American and finished his career as the school's all-time leader with 27 sacks. He was originally selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round (255th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Signed by Atlanta Falcons on May 19, 2014.
He signed a four-year deal worth $2,265,896 including a $45,896 signing bonus. His base salaries are: $420,000 (2014); $510,000 (2015); $600,000 (2016); and $690,000 (2017). His cap hits are: $431,474 (2014); $521,474 (2015); $611,474 (2016); and $701,474 (2017).