Ezekiel Ansah

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Ezekiel Ansah
refer to caption
Ansah in 2014
No. 94 Detroit Lions
Position: Defensive end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1989-05-29) May 29, 1989 (age 27)
Place of birth: Accra, Ghana
Height: 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight: 275 lb (125 kg)
Career information
High school: Legon (GH) Presbyterian Boys'
College: Brigham Young
NFL Draft: 2013 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2016
Tackles: 163
Sacks: 32.0
Forced fumbles: 9
Player stats at NFL.com

Ezekiel Nana "Ziggy" Ansah (born May 29, 1989) is a Ghanaian-born American football defensive end for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Lions fifth overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played college football at Brigham Young.

Early life[edit]

Ansah grew up playing soccer and had never seen American football as a youth.[1] In addition to soccer, Ansah was also an enthusiastic basketball fan. He regularly played pickup basketball games at Golden Sunbeam Montessori School where he attended from 4th grade to 9th grade. He developed his basketball interests and abilities on a turf donated by Forever Young Foundation (Steve Young). Ansah played on the Golden Sunbeam basketball team and became the most valuable player and led his team to win many games. Because of the school's basketball facility, attention was drawn from basketball enthusiasts including missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It was at these pickup basketball games with missionaries and students that Ansah developed a friendship with Ken Frei, an LDS Church missionary. Ansah was later baptized a member of the church at age 18.[1][2] Frei, who taught and baptized Ansah, kept in touch with Ansah after returning to the United States. Frei later suggested that if he was serious about basketball, Ansah should come to Brigham Young University and try out for the basketball team.[1]

High school education[edit]

Ansah joined the Presbyterian Boys' Senior Secondary School, Legon in 2004. He studied business. During his stay in the school, Ansah actively participated in sports, playing an active role in the basketball team while also participating in track and field sports. During his stay in high school he was a resident of Kwansa House. He graduated from High School in Ghana in June 2007 and returned to Golden Sunbeam as a Teaching Assistant where, in his spare time, he trained the pupils in basketball.

Under his mentoring, the Golden Sunbeam basketball team won several tournaments while playing international schools in Ghana. When the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results became public, Ezekiel had 7A's and a B in his Business program.

College career[edit]

Ansah applied to and was accepted at Brigham Young University with the help and support of Golden Sunbeam and the assistance of his friend, former ICT teacher and mentor, Alma Ohene Opare who was at BYU at the time. Ezekiel's academic records enabled him to receive an academic scholarship in 2008. Alma Ohene Opare and later Ken Frei played critical roles in helping Ezekiel Ansah adjust to his new surroundings and culture in a new country. Ansah tried out for the BYU Cougars men's basketball team twice, but was cut from both the 2008 and 2009 teams.[1][3] After facing rejection in basketball, Ansah successfully walked on to the BYU Cougars track team, where he ran a 10.91 in the 100 meters in addition to clocking a time of 21.89 seconds in the 200 meters.[4]

Finally, Ansah was persuaded to try out for the BYU Cougars football team, successfully walked onto the team, and played for the Cougars from 2010 to 2012.

Sophomore season[edit]

Unfamiliar with American football, Ansah had to be instructed in the most basic rules and techniques, even needing help getting on his pads for the first time.[5] Midway through the 2010 season Ansah made his first collegiate appearance in the Cougars' game versus Wyoming where he recorded his first tackle. During the 2010 season he saw action in six games on special teams and the defensive line, recording three tackles and a pass breakup.[6]

Junior season[edit]

The 2011 season was Ansah's fourth year in school but only third year of eligibility. He played sporadically on third downs as a defensive end or outside linebacker, recording seven total tackles for the season.

Senior season[edit]

For the 2012 season Ansah resumed his role as a situation player. However, during week four, noseguard Eathyn Manumaleuna hurt his knee and Ansah took his place. Over the final nine games of the season Ansah was third on the team in tackles (48), second in sacks (4.5) and first in tackles for loss (13).

For the 2012 season, the BYU Cougars led the nation in red zone defense (opponent red zone percentage of .62), was second in rushing defense (84.25 yards/game), third in 3rd down conversion percentage (27.71%) and total defense (allowing 26.33 yards/game), fourth in First Downs defense (14.83/game), and fifth in scoring defense (176 total points). Additionally, they were in the top 25 in passing defense (13th), quarterback sacks (22nd), fourth down conversion defense (23rd), and tackles for loss (25th).[7]

College career statistics[edit]

All statistics from Brigham Young Official Athletic Site,[6]

Year Team Games Tackles Sacks Pass Defense Fumbles Blkd
Solo Ast Total TFL – Yds No – Yds Int – Yds BU PD Qbh Rcv – Yds FF Kick Saf
2010 Brigham Young 6 1 2 3 0 – 0 0 – 0 0 – 0 1 0 0 0 – 0 0 0 0
2011 Brigham Young 12 3 4 7 0 – 0 0 – 0 0 – 0 0 0 1 0 – 0 0 0 0
2012 Brigham Young 13 35 27 62 13 – 37 4.5 – 20 1 – -2 9 0 6 0 – 0 1 0 0
Career 31 39 33 72 13 – 37 4.5 – 20 1 – -2 10 0 7 0 – 0 1 0 0

Professional career[edit]


Ansah was not found on any of the 2012 preseason mock drafts for the 2013 NFL draft. By mid-season, he had moved up from unlisted to the late-first round or early second round with many analysts calling him the sleeper pick of the draft.[8][9][10][11] Ansah further improved his draft stock with his "outstanding defensive player" outing in the 2013 Senior bowl, where he recorded seven tackles (six solo), 1.5 sacks (for 13 yards), 3.5 tackles for loss (for 24 yards), a pass breakup, and a forced fumble.[12][13]

In March 2013, reports began to circulate questioning the accuracy of Ansah's age. His passport, however, shows his date of birth as May 29, 1989.[14]

Coming out of college, he was projected by analysts and scours to be a first round draft selection and was a consensus top 10 pick. He was ranked the top defensive end and the seventh best player by NFLDraftScout.com.[15] Although he was thought of as a raw talent who was a boom or bust prospect that lacked stamina, his large frame, size, quickness, athletic ability, consistency, and unparalleled length and foot speed made him too valuable to pass on.[16]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 5 in 271 lb 35⅛ in 10¼ in 4.56 s 1.62 s 2.66 s 4.26 s 7.11 s 34½ in 9 ft 10 in 21 reps
All values from NFL Combine[16]

Detroit Lions[edit]

Ansah was drafted by the Detroit Lions, in the first round, with the fifth overall pick, of the 2013 NFL Draft.[17] On May 10, 2013, the Detroit Lions signed him to a fully guaranteed four-year, $18.59 million contract with a signing bonus of $11.90 million.[18][19]


He entered training camp competing to be the right starting defensive end. In the first week of the preseason, Ansah intercepted Mark Sanchez and returned the ball 14 yards for the first score of the game.[20] Head coach Jim Schwartz named him the backup right defensive end behind Willie Young to begin the regular season after his development was delayed due to a head injury he suffered in practice.[21][22]

He made his professional regular season debut in the Detroit Lion's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings and made three combined tackles and was credited with half a sack on Christian Ponder in a 34-24 victory.[23] On September 22, 2013, Ansah earned his first career start after Jason Jones was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. He made a season-high seven combined tackles and sacked Robert Griffin III twice, one causing a fumble, in a 27-20 victory over the Washington Redskins.[24] He returned in Week 12 after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. In Week 12, he recorded two solo tackles and sacked Mike Glennon twice, as the Lions lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-20. The following week he made three solo tackles and two sacks on Matt Flynn in a 40-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers.[25]

Ansah finished his rookie season with 32 combined tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and a pass deflection in 14 games and 12 starts. His eight sacks led all NFL rookies and ranked second in Lions rookie history. He was named the Mel Farr Rookie of the Year, honouring the Detroit Lions' most outstanding rookie.[26]


He returned as the right defensive end in 2014 and was named the starting defensive end, by new head coach Jim Caldwell, to begin the regular season. In the season opener against the New York Giants, he recorded an assisted tackle and was credited with half a sack on Eli Manning in a 35-14 victory. On October 12, 2014, Ansah made five combined tackles and was credited with a season-high 2½ sacks on Teddy Bridgewater, as the Detroit Lions defeated the Minnesota Vikings 17-3. In Week 10, he racked up a season-high six solo tackles and had one sack on Ryan Tannehill in a 20-16 win over the Miami Dolphins.[25] Ansah finished his second season with 49 combined tackles, 7½ sacks, and three forced fumbles in 16 games and 16 starts.

On January 4, 2015, Ansah started his first career playoff game and made two solo tackles and a sack on Tony Romo in a 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.[25]


He started the Detroit Lion's season-opener against the San Diego Chargers and made two solo tackles and a sack on Phillip Rivers in a 33-28 loss. The next game, Ansah recorded a season-high seven solo tackles (six solo) and a sack in a 26-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.[25] On November 26, 2015, he racked up four combined tackles and was credited with a season-high 3 sacks on Mark Sanchez, as the Detroit Lions routed the Philadelphia Eagles 45-14.[27]

In the 2015 season, Ansah made 47 combined tackles, 14½ sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a pass deflection in 16 games and 16 starts. He finished third in the league with 14½ sacks (J.J. Watt 17½, Khalil Mack 15) and tied William Gay (13½ sacks in 1983) for the second-most sacks in a season by a Lions defensive player since 1982, trailing only Robert Porcher (15.0) set in 1999. Ansah was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.[28] On January 31, 2016, during the Pro Bowl, Ansah was a part of Team Irvin and made one solo tackle in a 49-27 win over Team Rice[25] He was ranked 43rd on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.[29]


On May 2, 2016, it was announced that the Detroit Lions exercised the fifth-year option on Ansah's contract rookie contract that will pay him $7.53 million for 2017.[18][30]

He started the Detroit Lion's season opener against the Indianapolis Colts and made two combined tackles in a 39-35 victory. The following week, Ansah injured his ankle on the second play of a 16-15 loss to the Tennessee Titans. He missed the next three games.[31] In a Week 9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Ansah racked up a season-high five solo tackles. On December 18, 2016, he recorded five combined tackles and sacked Eli Manning for his first of the season. He finished his season with 35 combined tackles and two sacks in 13 games and 13 starts. The two sacks was a steep decline from the 14.5 he posted the previous year.[25]

The Detroit Lions finished 9-7. On January 7, 2017, Ansah made five combined tackles and sacked Russell Wilson twice, in the Detroit Lions loss 26-6 to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wildcard Game.[32]

Career statistics[edit]

Year Team GP Comb Total Ast Sack FF FR FR Yds INT IR Yds Avg IR Lng TD PD SF
2013 Detroit Lions 14 32 19 13 8.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2014 Detroit Lions 16 49 37 12 7.5 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2015 Detroit Lions 16 47 39 8 14.5 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2016 Detroit Lions 13 35 21 14 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Career 46 128 95 33 30.0 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1



  • GP: games played
  • COMB: combined tackles
  • TOTAL: total tackles
  • AST: assisted tackles
  • SACK: sacks
  • FF: forced fumbles
  • FR: fumble recoveries
  • FR YDS: fumble return yards
  • INT: interceptions
  • IR YDS: interception return yards
  • AVG IR: average interception return
  • LNG: longest interception return
  • TD: interceptions returned for touchdown
  • PD: passes defensed

Personal life[edit]

Ziggy is the youngest of five children. His father, Edward, was a sales manager for a petroleum company, and his mother, Elizabeth, was a nurse.[1] Ansah is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Ansah was assigned to room with Kyle Van Noy, a highly touted linebacker, during the 2012 season. The two have maintained a close relationship both on- and off-the-field. Ansah reported in a Sports Illustrated interview that, "Kyle is like a brother to me."[1] While attending BYU Ansah worked for several years as a custodian in order to pay his tuition (he stopped working when he was awarded a scholarship his senior year).[34]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Next Zig Thing". Sports Illustrated. 2012-12-03. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  2. ^ Jones, Lindsay H. (2013-04-10). "Ziggy Ansah speeding through learning curve". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  3. ^ Benedict, Jeff (2012-11-29). "Sports Illustrated to profile football odyssey of BYU's Ziggy Ansah". Deseret News. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  4. ^ "BYU Getting Ziggy With It". Deep Shades of Blue. 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  5. ^ "Unheralded BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah has stepped into spotlight". Deseret News. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  6. ^ a b "Ezekiel Ansah". BYU Athletics. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  7. ^ "Statistics-Team". 
  8. ^ Pauline, Tony (November 8, 2012). "Barkevious Mingo, Bjoern Werner, Star Lotulelei in top 50". SI.com. 
  9. ^ Rang, Rob (December 4, 2012). "2013 NFL Mock Drafts". CBSSports.com. 
  10. ^ "Walter Football 2013 Mock Draft". WalterFootball.com. December 4, 2012. 
  11. ^ "2013 NFL Mock Draft Two Rounds of Bliss". NFLsfuture.com. December 4, 2012. 
  12. ^ "2013 Senior Bowl Stats" (PDF). Seniorbowl.com. January 29, 2013. 
  13. ^ "NFL Combine Player Profile: Ziggy Ansah". NFL.com. February 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ Mortensen, Chris (2013-04-18). "Ezekiel Ansah's passport viewed". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  15. ^ "Ezekiel Ansah, DS #1 DE, BYU: 2013 NFL Draft". nfldraftscout.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b "NFL Combine Profile-Ezekiel Ansah". NFL.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  17. ^ Seiferth, Kevin (April 25, 2013). "Ezekiel Ansah: Big swing with game on line". ESPN.com. 
  18. ^ a b "Sportrac.com: Ezekial Ansah contract". sportrac.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  19. ^ Associated Press, "Lions sign top draft pick DE Ezekiel Ansah to 5-year contract, 8 others to 4-year deals," The Washington Press (May 10, 2013). Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  20. ^ Birkett, Dave. "Detroit Lions 26, New York 17: Ziggy Ansah's interception, score key Lions' preseason win". Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  21. ^ Kyle Meinke (September 4, 2013). "Ezekiel Ansah (head injury) jogs with trainers in practice". mlive.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Ourlads.com: Detroit Lion's Depth Chart: 08/31/2013". ourlads.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  23. ^ "NFL Game Center: Week 1-2013: Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions". NFL.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  24. ^ "NFL Game Center: Week 3-2013: Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins". NFL.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f "NFL Player Profile: Ezekiel Ansah". NFL.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  26. ^ Twentyman, Tim (January 8, 2014). "Ziggy Ansah named Mel Farr Rookie of the Year". NFL.com. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  27. ^ "NFL Game Center: Week 12-2015: Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions". NFL.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  28. ^ Twentyman, Tim (December 22, 2015). "Two Lions named to 2016 Pro Bowl". Detroit Lions. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  29. ^ NFL Top 100 Players of 2016 - No. 43 Ezekiel Ansah
  30. ^ "Lions exercise fifth-year option for DE Ziggy Ansah". www.detroitlions.com. Retrieved 2016-05-02. 
  31. ^ Dave Birkett (September 18, 2016). "Detroit Lions beseiged by injuries during loss to Titans". freep.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  32. ^ "NFL Game Center: Week 18-2016: Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks". NFL.com. Retrieved January 7, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Ezekiel Ansah Stats". Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  34. ^ Ogletree, Brandon (11 September 2013). "The Meteoric Rise of Ziggy Ansah". OgletreeFootball.com. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 

External links[edit]