BYU Athletics Blog | April 2013 | Officially Home of Cougar Club

BYU Athletics Blog | April 2013

Ziggy Ansah, the newest Detroit Lion

Apr 25, 2013 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 8:35 pm | Updated: April 26, 2013 7:24 am | Permalink

On Thursday, former BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah's journey from Ghana to the NFL became a reality when he was selected as the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

Leading up to the draft on Thursday, Ansah and other top NFL Draft prospects visited children at the Kravis Children's Hospital at The Mount Sinai Medical Center. Afterward, Ansah spent time with family and did some interviews until it was time to get ready for his appearance on the Red Carpet at Radio City Music Hall. 

Another special part of Ansah's day was joining many other BYU students who graduated on Thursday. Ansah doned a cap and gown to take some photos with his Mom, Elizabeth, and other family and friends in celebration of his achievement. Not a bad day—graduate from college, get a job playing football in the NFL as the No. 5 overall pick in the NFL Draft. 

Here's a bit more on his selection:

Lions front office on Ziggy

Lions draft Ziggy blog on Ziggy to Lions

Bronco Mendenhall
I think this is fantastic for Ziggy and our program. Our program wins a lot of games and plays at a high level. Our defense was No. 3 in the nation and Ziggy was a big part of that.

It was a real honor for me to be part of this experience for Ziggy at the draft and over the past three years. To go from not playing football to a top-5 pick in three years is a tribute to Ziggy and his willingness to work hard and also to our program.

Ziggy is a phenomenal person, and I think the Detroit fans will love him. They will see a very unique personality. He is a very kind, gentle and obedient person off the field, but when he plays he is ferocious and plays very, very hard.

Ezekiel Ansah
I’m just happy I’ve come this far. This journey has just begun. I’m excited—I give credit to everybody. I give credit to Bronco Mendenhall for pushing me during practice and teaching me how to be a football player. I give credit to my fans back at BYU and to my teammates.

Ziggy Ansah enjoys full day in New York in advance of NFL Draft

Apr 24, 2013 - Posted by Brett Pyne at 10:31 pm | Updated: April 24, 2013 11:21 pm | Permalink

In advance of the start of the NFL Draft on Thursday in New York, BYU's Ziggy Ansah and other top NFL prospects participated in a full day of activities Wednesday throughout Manhatten. 

Ansah started his day at the NFL Network, appearing on NFL AM at approximately 7:45 a.m. ET. He joined Barkevious Minga of LSU during his turn on the set of the nationally televised program. The prospects invited to attend the draft by the NFL appeared on the program.

From there Ansah and 23 other top NFL prospects went to Chelsea Waterside Park to take part in the NFL Play 60 Youth Football Festival. A great event in which more than 800 students from the New York and New Jersey area will participate over two days, the festival kicked off at 10 a.m. with the NFL prospects taking to the field with many local youth from grades three to nine. After a one-hour clinic with the kids, a press conference/announcement took place with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and others before the players met with the media. 

The announcement featured the news of a nationwide program launched with a $1.5 million grant from the NFL Foundation. USA Football's Heads Up Football program will have more than 900 youth football leagues across the United States representing more than 200,000 players and 30,000 coaches nationwide, all committed to the health and safety of their young players by adopting Heads Up Football, the new USA Football pilot program for the 2013 season dedicated to making the game better and safer.

After the announcement, Ansah met with the media for a full 30 minutes as a popular choice among the media as they interviewed the draft prospects. Ansah represented himself and BYU well as he took on all questions from everyone from New York media to the BBC. 

The two-day NFL Play 60 Football Festival continued all day Wednesday and starts up again on Thursday. In addition to Ansah and the NFL Draft prospects, current and former NFL players will also participate over the two days. Among some of those on hand during Ansah's time at the Festival were Deion Sanders, Lavar Arrington, Tony Casillas and former NFL coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. 

Ansah next made an appearance on top of the Radio City Music Hall marquee as New York City passersby and media got a look at these top prospects one day ahead of the draft at the site of the annual event. 

Keeping busy, Ansah headed to Wall Street to help ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. A little photo/video time with Nike and a private reception with NFLPA wrapped up his evening. During the NFLPA reception, Ansah participated in a Google+ Hangout for fans to watch. 

Thursday Ansah is visiting the Kravis Children's Hospital at the Mount Sinai Medical Center among other activies prior to the main event which will include a red carpet arrival prior to the 8 p.m. ET start of the 2013 NFL Draft. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall comes to town on Thursday as well to join Ansah and members of his family attending the draft. 

Check out a photo gallery below of many of the activities that took place on Wednesday. Follow BYU on twitter @BYUCougars to keep up to date on the latest happenings in New York City. 

More on Heads Up

USA Football's Heads Up Football program promotes a positive youth football experience and advances player safety by providing coaching education and teaching resources that benefit players, parents and coaches. Heads Up Football aims to take the head out of the game. USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams. Seventy-eight former NFL players also will participate in the program as Heads Up Football Ambassadors, working with youth leagues to reinforce the Heads Up message. Parents can help ensure their youth football players are participating in a better and safer brand of football by visiting Youth leagues can register online for Heads Up Football and to have their coaches certified.

“As chairman of the NFL Foundation and as a parent of two young football players, I believe the Heads Up Football program is essential in making the game we all love safer for youth players,” said CHARLOTTE JONES ANDERSON, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer. “The program is also important for parents, providing resources for their kids to play the game safely and properly. The NFL Foundation is pleased to be supporting this important program.”

In addition to the NFL and NFL Foundation, organizations that support Heads Up Football include the NCAA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Federation of State High School Associations, American Football Coaches Association and Sports and Fitness Industry Association. 

BYU and the NFL Draft

Apr 23, 2013 - Posted by Kenny Cox at 2:07 pm | Updated: April 23, 2013 2:09 pm | Permalink

With Thursday's start of the 2013 NFL Draft, take a look at the former Cougars looking for a shot at the next level, including probable first-rounder Ezekiel Ansah.

BYU Draft Facts and Player Bios

Included in the above link are facts and figures related to BYU and the NFL Draft, along with bio pages handed out to NFL scouts at BYU's Pro Day held on March 28. The first round of the NFL Draft is set to begin on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Ansah is scheduled to be in attendance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Watch complete coverage on ESPN and the NFL Network.

Ziggy Encore & NFL Draft conference calls

Apr 19, 2013 - Posted by Brett Pyne at 6:32 pm | Updated: April 19, 2013 7:08 pm | Permalink

If you want to take some time this weekend to look ahead to next week's NFL Draft, here are links to a couple NFL Draft conference calls as well as the ESPN SportsCenter Centerpiece and Sports Science features on BYU's Ziggy Ansah that aired on Thursday. 

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock annual pre-draft conference call



ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay 2013 NFL Draft conference call


ESPN SportsCenter Centerpiece & Sports Science—Ezekiel Ansah


 Sage Steele tells Ziggy's Story

Van Noy & Frei Talk Live with Sage Steele

Centerpiece Panel Discusses Ziggy

Sports Science—Ziggy Ansah



Ezekiel Ansah: A Ziggy Path to the NFL

Apr 17, 2013 - Posted by at 6:02 pm | Updated: April 17, 2013 6:18 pm | Permalink

Cougar fans and anyone looking for a little more about Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah should check out this video entitled A Ziggy Path to the NFL. It was produced by BYU Univeristy Communications in advance of April graduation next week. Great work by Julie Walker, Brian Wilcox, Sarah Butler and Nicholas Adams.

Ansah has a big day coming up next week. He will graduate from Brigham Young University on Thursday, April 25 with a degree in actuarial science and a minor in business, which he calls a very important event for his family. He came to BYU on an academic scholarship after joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana. The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft takes place that same day with Ansah considered a top NFL prospect as one of 23 players invited to attend the draft in New York City. 

NFL Draft

Apr 16, 2013 - Posted by Brett Pyne at 2:06 pm | Updated: April 16, 2013 2:21 pm | Permalink

The 2013 NFL Draft is coming up next week starting on Thursday, April 25, and BYU's Ziggy Ansah is one of 23 players invited to attend the draft by the NFL. Ansah also will be featured in  ESPN The Magazine's April 29 NFL Draft issue. You can get a preview of what others have had to say about Ziggy at

Additionally, NFL Network’s Draft analyst Mike Mayock will be conducting a media conference call this Thursday, April 18, at 1 p.m. ET to preview the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. For the first time, will provide fans access to listen to Mayock’s conference call by logging on to The live streaming audio will be accompanied by highlight packages of draft prospects and graphics on NFL team needs. Following the conference call, audio clips will be available on

Fans can also participate by tweeting questions to @InsideNFLMedia using #askMayock. The best questions will be selected and used during the conference call.

ESPN and the NFL Network will provide live coverage of this year's NFL Draft.  NFL Network provides approximately 70 hours of live “Draft Week” coverage Monday, April 22 – Saturday, April 27. Live coverage of the first round kicks off Thursday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Rounds 2-3 Friday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. ET and Rounds 4-7 Saturday, April 27 at 12 Noon ET.

On Wednesday, April 24 at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Mayock unveils his first – and only – mock draft of the year in a one-hour special, Mayock’s 2013 Mock Draft. On the eve of the 2013 NFL Draft from inside Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Mayock, along with Chris Rose, predicts how the first round of the draft will unfold and provides full analysis of each selection. 

Also in case you missed it or want to revisit a bit, here are links to news from BYU Pro Day and a recent feature on Ansah in USA TODAY.

Rose and Haws on BYUtv's True Blue

Apr 16, 2013 - Posted by Kyle Chilton at 9:09 am | Updated: April 23, 2013 10:27 pm | Permalink

BYU coach Dave Rose and sophomore All-WCC guard Tyler Haws were on BYUtv's True Blue yesterday. The pair discussed this past season's NIT run and looked to the future with Haws, who set several BYU sophomore scoring records in 2012-13, coming back for his junior season and the return of Kyle Collinsworth from a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia. As a freshman in 2010-11, Collinsworth averaged 5.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting .481 from the field. That season he helped the Cougars to a program-record 32 wins and a trip to the Sweet 16 in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl announces date, time and TV coverage

Apr 15, 2013 - Posted by Brett Pyne at 3:01 pm | Updated: April 15, 2013 3:04 pm | Permalink

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl today announced the 2013 game will be played on Friday, December 27 at 6:30 p.m. PST in San Francisco. If bowl eligible and not invited to a BCS bowl game, BYU will face a team from the Pac-12 Conference in the annual postseason contest played in the The City By The Bay. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN. 

Check out the complete news release below: 


SAN FRANCISCO – The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl returns to prime time.

The 12th San Francisco bowl game will take place Friday evening, December 27 at 6:30 p.m. [PST]/9:30 p.m. [EST] at the game’s longtime home, AT&T Park. The game will be shown on a nationwide basis by ESPN.

This year’s contest matches a team from the Pac-12 Conference against BYU.  Each side must achieve bowl eligibility [6 or more regular season victories].  In the event BYU does not achieve bowl eligibility or is invited to a BCS bowl game, the Bowl has an alternative agreement for an eligible Atlantic Coast Conference [ACC] team to play in the game.    

Today’s announcement was made by Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Executive Director and game co-founder Gary Cavalli.

 “We’re very excited about this date and time slot,” Cavalli said.  “We have a prime time window and we won’t have any competition from another bowl or NFL game.  That should help generate a strong national TV audience.  The Friday evening kickoff is also great for the fans.  Those in the Bay Area can come after work and out-of-towners can spend a weekend in the greatest city in the world, San Francisco.”

This year’s Bowl will be the last at AT&T Park, as the game in 2014 will move to the New Santa Clara Stadium (home for the San Francisco 49ers).  However, the City of San Francisco will continue to house both teams, and all game-related events will take place there, as in the past.  

The Pac-12, which expanded by two schools [Colorado, Utah] in 2011, has provided teams to the Bowl in six of the past seven seasons.  During that period, Pac-12 teams have won four times in six games. 

Last year’s game saw Arizona State deliver a record-shattering performance in its 62-28 victory over Navy.  The Sun Devils set or tied 30 game records overall in the contest. Four of the past seven games have been sellouts.  

After playing on Saturday afternoons the last two years, the Bowl re-enters evening programming for the first time since the 2010 season, when Nevada met Boston College.  The game has been presented in prime time in five of the past seven years.  

BYU is one of six Football Bowl Subdivision independent members. The Cougars have long played Pac-12 competition and own a 5-3 mark in bowl game matchups with Pac-12 teams.

Arizona State this past season joined UCLA [twice], Oregon State, California and USC as previous conference participants to have played in The City By The Bay.

For the past three years, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl organization has pledged meal donations to its three charitable partners, Glide Memorial Church, St. Anthony’s Dining Room and the San Francisco Food Bank.  Since 2010, game organizers donated the financial equivalent of more than 300,000 meals.

The game has long been a financial boon to the City of San Francisco.  According to figures released by San Francisco Travel, the game and week-long events leading up to it have generated in excess of $140 million in direct economic benefit to greater San Francisco.

Transcript from BYU, Arizona football series announcement

Apr 12, 2013 - Posted by at 2:48 pm | Updated: April 12, 2013 4:36 pm | Permalink

The following quotes have been provided by the University of Arizona athletic department of Friday's announcement on Google+ Hangout of a three-game football series between BYU and Arizona. 

Arizona Athletics Director Greg Byrne
“We have come to an agreement with BYU for a three-game series. We are very excited about this. It’s a national series that will get a lot of attention throughout the country. It will be the first game for the 2016 season and we will also have games in 2018 and 2020. We are going to start the first one in the Phoenix market at the University of Phoenix Stadium and it will be a chance for both fan bases to come together and show the passion there is for college football. It will be wonderful for the Arizona alumni base which is very strong in Maricopa County. It’s something we feel will gain a lot of attention throughout the summer leading up to that season.”

“We also want to thank the Fiesta Bowl and Robert Shelton. They are going to be involved in this to make it a success with the strength of the Fiesta Bowl community. The 2018 game will be played in Tucson and the 2020 game will be played in Provo, Utah. I want to let the Tucson community know that the year we play this game in Phoenix will be a year we have seven home games, which is something we strive to do as often as possible. So this will not take a home game away from the Tucson community or the business community here in Tucson which we know depend heavily on home football games for support in the local economy.  It’s something we will be able to talk about in the coming years and we just really appreciate BYU’s willingness to be involved in this.”

“It is an important area for our fan base, we have a lot of alums up there. It is the second-largest fan base for us. It’s also an area for all of our sports, especially football, that we recruit a lot to. I know Coach Rodriguez, from the time he came to the University of Arizona, he said our number one recruiting priority is the state of Arizona. Obviously, with the population base in Maricopa County, it will send a great message to our fans, recruits and future students the importance of that market for us. We couldn’t be more pleased to have the partnership with The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority with Tom Sadler and Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Robert Shelton, who has strong ties to the University of Arizona as he was our former president, in allowing for this game to become a reality. When ticket information becomes available in the coming years, it will be something that, with the Fiesta Bowl’s strength in numbers, will help us secure a great atmosphere and a great experience for our student-athletes and fans.”

“Tucson is our foundation. We have to be strong in southern Arizona. The fans here mean so much to us so this agreement gives us an opportunity to not have a negative impact there. We are the University of Arizona and we have such a strong alumni base in the Phoenix market that is so critical. We have talked for the last several years about the opportunity to play in the Phoenix area. We also know BYU has a strong following in Arizona and we have a great relationship with their athletic director Tom Holmoe and Bronco Mendenhall. We appreciate their openness to putting this together. It gives us another chance to strengthen who we are throughout the state of Arizona and get to another part and show our fan base how much we appreciate their support year round. We are very pleased with this announcement for what it means to our football program and our fans.”

Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez
“I think it’s going to be a great regional rivalry but also a national rivalry with a lot of national interest in both programs. I have a tremendous amount of respect for BYU and Bronco (Mendenhall) is a friend of mine. I don’t like to play friends but I think it’s going to be a great series for both institutions and both fan bases. For us, to have a home game in 2018 and going to Phoenix in 2016 where we have so many alumni and so many recruits, is a win-win all the way around.”

“Bronco (Mendenhall) made a great point in that he mentioned the great regional interest but we all aspire to have national interest as well. We think of our program and institution that no matter where you’re at in the country, if you watch us and like how we play and get a chance to visit Tucson, Arizona, you are going to love it. So this is going to be another opportunity to expose our program and expose what we’re all about at our university. I know our fans and our players will be excited about it as well.”

BYU Athletics Director Tom Holmoe
“We are trying to play these neutral games and we have a few of these on the docket in the future. We actually played the University of Oklahoma in the first college game at Dallas Cowboys Stadium a couple years back. You can’t really call that neutral because they had 35,000 or 40,000 fans from Oklahoma but we probably had 18,000-20,000 in Texas for that game. When people think that it’s a neutral venue in Arizona, I’m sure Arizona fans will come out but outside of the state of Utah, there are more members of the LDS faith in California and then Arizona is right behind that. Our fans will come out in big numbers there. They will come from Arizona, California, Utah and the surrounding areas. It is a great opportunity to match-up with the Wildcats but to have great home fan base at a neutral venue.”

“It is a beautiful venue. The last time I was there was for the national championship game between Oregon and Auburn, the way they set it up there was fantastic. They have flexibility there with seating and its very fan friendly. There will be good ticket prices and great seat availability. The people at the Fiesta Bowl have been so good and so hospitable about putting this together. It’s going to be a great venue with two great teams with the fans coming together and I think you’re going to see more of this across the nation.”

BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall
“It’s a great game for us. The regional nature of the game makes complete sense. Coach Rodriguez is a fantastic coach and an offensive mastermind; he is doing some great things there with the Wildcats. Our experiences of playing at the University of Arizona besides the new stadium we are playing at, both of those venues are very exciting for us. We have a ton of church members and a ton of alumni and we are looking to play the best teams on the biggest stages we can and it will be an awesome experience for us as well.”

“We love being exposed in that particular area but again the national exposure in the venue we’re playing in. That exact same year we are playing at FedEx Field against West Virginia as well. So our program at this point is playing the best teams on the biggest stages and we’re looking forward to competing. As many people we can get to watch as well with our intriguing style of play and our unique individuals that come here is a win-win for both institutions and both coaches and I think it will be great for the fans.”

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority President/CEO Tom Sadler
“I want to thank both intuitions for allowing us to participate in this announcement. We would like to congratulate both institutions for putting this together. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to host this event in 2016 at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The University of Phoenix Stadium was built not only to host the Arizona Cardinals football club, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl but to bring events of this nature here. At this particular time, this is the first one we have on the books but we couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to bring out the fans from both teams, treat the student-athletes, coaches, administration to a first-class experience at what I think is a world-class facility. Again I want to thank both athletic directors and football coaches to allow for this thing to get put together, we are very excited.”

To view the Google+ Hangout, including some fun exchanges with former BYU & NFL tight end Chad Lewis and former Arizona & NFL linebacker Tedy Bruschi, CLICK HERE.