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Ziggy Ansah selected with 5th pick by Detroit

NEW YORK (ABC 4 Sports) - BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah was drafted with the 5th overall pick of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
NEW YORK (ABC 4 Sports) - BYU defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah was selected by the Detroit Lions with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 271-pound defensive end becomes the highest pick on the defensive side of the ball for the Cougars and ties the 1982 Chicago Bears selection of former quarterback Jim McMahon as the highest BYU pick in school history.

“It's been a humbling experience,” said Ansah, who had 4 1/2 sacks as a senior. “That is what I've said several times. I can't be anymore humbled than I am today. I never envisioned myself five years ago being here. It means a lot. I think I’m just waiting for someone to pinch me to figure out that I’m not dreaming.”

A native of Ghana, Ansah is BYU’s ninth player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Other NFL first round picks include quarterback Jim McMahon (1982, 5th overall), defensive tackle Shawn Knight (1987, 11th overall), offensive lineman John Tait (1999, 14th overall), quarterback Marc Wilson (1980, 15th overall), defensive end Jason Buck (1987, 17th overall), linebacker Todd Shell (1984, 24th overall), offensive lineman Trevor Matich (1985, 28th overall) and linebacker Rob Morris (2000, 28th overall). BYU also had quarterback Steve Young taken with the first overall pick of the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of the USFL and CFL along with tight end Gordon Hudson going in the first round with the 22nd overall pick.

A player with a well-documented unique journey to football beginning three years ago, Ansah is Bronco Mendenhall’s highest draft pick since becoming the head coach at BYU and eighth player drafted. A walk-on ni 2010, Ziggy had never played football before. Three years later, he is the 5th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ansah gave thanks to Mendenhall for giving him a chance.

"If he didn't give me the chance, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today," Ansah said. "So, I'm really happy he said yes to me and gave me a shot."

"This is an amazing story,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. “I talked to his former head coach Bronco Mendenhall (early Thursday and he) spoke very highly of him, but talked about him when he came in not even knowing how to put his equipment on and how far he's come.

“And the one thing he talked about with Ziggy is how much he loves the game, how much he loves to learn about the game, how much passion he has to learn about it. We've got the right coaches here to teach him about it.”

After first putting on pads in 2010, Ansah played three seasons for the Cougars, appearing in 31 games, starting the final nine of his senior year. Despite having little experience, Ansah made a huge impact for BYU’s No. 3 ranked defense in 2012 that allowed just 266.1 yards per game and just 14 points per game.

A physical specimen with a unique combination of size and speed, Ansah totaled 62 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, nine pass breakups, six quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one interception during his senior year.

Ansah was named a Pro Football Weekly All-America honorable mention and was selected to the Phil Steele and FBS All-Independent teams.

Ansah, who didn't even begin the 2102 season at BYU as a starter, impressed the Lions coaching staff with a dominating performance in the Senior Bowl in January. Ziggy is expected to play a significant role for a Lions team that lost starting defensive ends Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch this off-season.

"I never been to Detroit," he said. "I'm excited to go and see what kind of city it is and what kind of people there are. I'm excited to see the coaches and meet the players."

A native of Ghana, Ansah is BYU’s ninth player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Other NFL first round picks include quarterback Jim McMahon (1982, 5th overall), defensive tackle Shawn Knight (1987, 11th overall), offensive lineman John Tait (1999, 14th overall), quarterback Marc Wilson (1980, 15th overall), defensive end Jason Buck (1987, 17th overall), linebacker Todd Shell (1984, 24th overall), offensive lineman Trevor Matich (1985, 28th overall) and linebacker Rob Morris (2000, 28th overall). BYU also had quarterback Steve Young taken with the first overall pick of the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of the USFL and CFL along with tight end Gordon Hudson going in the first round with the 22nd overall pick.


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