Ziggy Ansah’s journey from Ghana to Detroit!
By Shawn Gallagher – DFW Writer
Its getting to be that time of the summer where football fans in general and dynasty owners like us start to get restless, waiting for the season to start. As good dynasty owners, we need to keep analyzing and re-analyzing the players we own or monitor in our leagues. By now you’ve seen quite a large amount of analysis on the 2013 NFL Draft and many rookie drafts are currently taking place. Of the players we’ve profiled of the 2013 NFL Draft class, I don’t believe any player has a more amazing story than new Detroit Lions rookie Defensive End Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah. Ziggy Ansah’s journey takes him from his childhood home in the African Country of Ghana, as has taken him all the way too good old Detroit, Michigan and the Lions! Let’s start the journey where it all began in Ziggy Ansah’s native country of Ghana.
Ghana – The Beginning
In case anyone was unfamiliar, Ghana is a small West African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean where Ziggy Ansah was born and raised. Growing up, Ansah was very big into soccer, as soccer is the most popular sport in Ghana. In addition to soccer, Ansah also became very big into basketball, and originally it was basketball that became Ansah’s favorite sport, and the sport that he wanted to pursue if he was going to make it to college. While playing basketball in high school, Ansah met a group of American missionaries representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and it was these missionaries that helped to convince Ansah to move to the United States and attempt to play college basketball at Brigham Young University. The missionaries knew that Ansah had incredible athletic talent, and enough to play multiple sports at the college level in the United States.
Brigham Young University – A future in basketball??
Ziggy Ansah moved to the United States and enrolled at Brigham Young University in 2008. Ziggy tried out for the BYU basketball team in both 2008 and 2009, but unfortunately didn’t make the team both of the years he tried out. Ansah later found success trying out for the track and field team at BYU, and quickly became one of the fastest sprinters on the team, specializing in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
Ziggy discovers football
The BYU football coaching staff began to notice Ziggy’s success as a sprinter on the track team, and later convinced him to also try out for the football team. In 2010 as a sophomore, Ziggy had to be taught how to play American football, and the rules of the game. Basic fundamentals of football had to be taught to Ziggy, and he even had difficulty learning how to put on his shoulder pads and equipment. BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall and the coaching staff decided early on that Ziggy would play mostly on defense as a lineman. In both 2010 and 2011, Ziggy only played briefly for BYU, basically serving as a backup defensive lineman and playing on 3rd downs and other situational packages. Ziggy’s breakthrough really didn’t happen until his Senior season at BYU, when he became a starter on the defensive line and received significant playing time. By the end of the 2012 season, Ziggy had accumulated a total of 48 tackles, 4.5 Sacks, and led the team with 13 tackles for a loss! Here are two of Ziggy’s official BYU Highlight reels from the 2012 season, and you can really start to see the play-making ability that first intrigued NFL scouts not that long ago.
Senior Bowl Spectacular
After the 2012 college season was over, Ziggy Ansah had a remarkable effort in the following Senior Bowl, in winning the “outstanding defender performance” award that really helped to boost his stock in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. Here is a spectacular highlight of a tackle that Ziggy made while tracking down the speedy Denard Robinson.
NFL Combine and Draft
Following the Senior Bowl, Ziggy Ansah’s draft stock skyrocketed, and many began to predict that Ziggy would be an NFL 1st rounder, which is remarkable considering that he wasn’t on the NFL Draft radar at all just a few months earlier. Ziggy put up very impressive NFL Combine numbers, including a speedy 4.6 time in the 40 yard dash, and also accumulated very strong results in broad and vertical jumps, among other drills. The Pre-Draft buzz continued to grow for Ziggy Ansah as analysts continued to rave about his NFL upside and potential. Things reached a peak for Ziggy in late April, when he ended up getting selected 5th overall by the Detroit Lions in the NFL Draft!
Ziggy Ansah has the body type to make it big as a dangerous pass rusher in the NFL, and his 6 foot 5 inch height is ideal, as he’ll have to take on some giant offensive tackles in the NFL. Ziggy weighs around 270 pounds with very little body fat and great quickness for a defensive lineman, and he’s certainly a physical specimen that opposing offensive coaches and quarterbacks will certainly have to game plan for.
The Lions have a very nice foundation in place at defensive line, as star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh provides a nice anchor to the line and Nick Fairley also provides run stopping support. A young defensive line that will include Suh, Fairley and Ansah could be potentially very devastating for opposing offenses for years to come. Offenses will absolutely have to focus on the dominating Suh in game planning, which could potentially mean great things for Ansah, as Suh will have to be double teamed on a regular basis, and could be great sack potential for this exciting new rookie defensive end.
Dynasty IDP Outlook
As far as dynasty IDP leagues go, you could easily see Ziggy Ansah being either the first or second defensive player taken in rookie drafts, with Miami’s Dion Jordan and Cleveland’s Barkevious Mingo also probably getting consideration. I wouldn’t hesitate to take Ziggy Ansah ahead of any other IDP player in this draft simply due to his enormous upside and high ceiling. Dynasty owners need to stay patient early on with Ziggy Ansah, as there could be a bit of a problem with the NFL learning curve, and we must remember, that he’s still a very raw prospect, who only started playing football a few years ago. Once Ziggy makes the adjustment to the NFL game, we really could see some crazy good numbers as far as sacks and tackles for losses go, and could become IDP gold. Dynasty IDP owners need to keep a very close eye on “Ziggy Stardust” in their leagues, and I believe he is the defensive rookie with the most upside in this draft class!