BYU Athletics Blog | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

BYU Athletics Blog

AVCA Awards Banquet

May 01, 2013 - Posted by Whitney Weekes at 9:50 pm | Permalink

The team participated in the AVCA Awards Banquet Wednesday night, honoring this year's AVCA All-Americans. Among those being recognized from BYU were junior Taylor Sander and freshman Ben Patch, both named to the All-America First Team, and senior Russ Lavaja, who was named to the second team. Patch was also honored as the NCAA Division I-II Newcomer of the Year.

With a 3.8 GPA, Phil Fuchs won the Elite 89 award. The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA championships.

Click here for the complete AVCA All-American release.

NCAA Day 1 Practice Pictures

May 01, 2013 - Posted by Whitney Weekes at 4:22 pm | Permalink

Check out pictures below from the Cougars' practice today at Pauley Pavilion in preparation for the 2013 NCAA National Championships.

NCAA Tournament Wednesday Press Conference Transcript

May 01, 2013 - Posted by Whitney Weekes at 3:06 pm | Updated: May 3, 2013 12:39 pm | Permalink

Below are quotes and pictures from Wednesday's pre-tournament press conference with BYU head coach Chris McGown, Taylor Sander and Ryan Boyce.

BYU head coach Chris McGown

Opening Statement
"We are excited to be here. We are proud of the efforts that the boys have put in over the course of the season. They have had some tremendous moments and have worked really hard. They have done a nice job as a team to get us to this point. We are thrilled to be part of the competition. We recognize that there are a lot of really, really talented players and coaches that are involved in the final four and we look forward to a weekend of competition.”

On what the team needs to do to win on Thursday
“It's interesting to try and get a sense of a team that you haven't looked at much during the year with Penn State obviously not playing in our conference. We feel like we have a good handle on most of the other programs that we play a lot. We’ve tried to get a feel for how they are going to play. More than anything I think that we talk about – in all of these moments and all of these matches – that we haven’t needed to be somebody we’re not. We just want to be who we are and play within ourselves and continue to play good quality volleyball. So we’ve talked to our guys a lot about coming to play as hard as we can, to stay focused mentally, to do the little things and to just keep playing the game that we’ve played. We don’t need to be special necessarily, we just need to be who we are and we think we can compete by doing that.”  

On making sure his players aren’t overconfident as the No. 1 team
“I don’t think we’ve ever been overconfident during the course of the season, so it isn’t something that I see in our team. Our team has been pretty loose coming into today. We’ve had a good couple practices back home at BYU. We will see how we feel today. Certainly we will remind them of the Hawai’i match that we played in the quarterfinals of the MPSFs. We were a one see and they were an eight seed. We were supposed to kind of roll them and they gave us everything we could handle down to the last point. So we will talk about that a little bit and say remember what happened there. We can’t lose focus. If you are here, it’s because you are a wonderful volleyball team and every team is good in this tournament right now. 

On the differences between playing at altitude and playing at sea level
“The thing that I’ve seen over the course of the season is that when we’ve come to California, we’ve played really well. We’ve served as well as our opponents have served. We kind of acclimate quickly and the guys get into the rhythm of the match fairly fast. One of the things that is going to be critical is the serve, serve-receive game, and we’ve been good at that when we’ve come down here. We’ve actually served really well and guys get a feel for that and they can get on the ball a little bit more. We’ve talked over the course of the season about the serve and serve-receive and how critical those can be over the course of a match. That’s the part of the game that is most affected by a change in altitude. So when we’ve come down we’ve been good and I’ve been impressed by how quickly we acclimate and by how much pressure we can put on teams with our serve and how much pressure we can put on them by receiving serve well and then running our offense.”

On being able to have recruiting success in Southern California
“I think a lot of it is the strong membership in the religious affiliation that goes along with BYU and the Mormon Church. It’s certainly a unique environment there at BYU. One of the things that we talk to our guys all the time and to the recruits is that BYU is special in that a lot of the distractions are eliminated and you get to focus on your schooling. You get to focus on being a wonderful volleyball player. You are surrounded by people that are kind of like minded and uphold values that you have and want more than anything in the world to be phenomenal volleyball players and to be good students. There isn’t a lot of overhead that goes along with that so I think people who come from strong volleyball backgrounds, especially here in Southern California, get there and they recognize that this program does things for you that others can’t.”

BYU junior outside hitter Taylor Sander

On whether having Final Four experience makes a difference
“It’s unfamiliar for us but we’re up to the challenge. Every team that is here is really good. We are just going to have to play our volleyball and not have to think too far ahead of ourselves. We are going to take Penn State first and just play our volleyball. That should be good enough I feel like.”

On the differences between playing at altitude and playing at sea level
“It’s a lot harder for us to play here, but we have a couple days to acclimate. The serves are coming a little bit harder and they drop a little bit more. So yeah, we just have to dial it in during these practice sessions that we get. We have played here a couple of times this season and we’ve done well. So we feel comfortable here for sure.”

On why he chose BYU
“I was being looked at by a lot of really good schools. I was considering USC, UC Irvine – all those big schools. The thing for me was just developing myself as a better person and helping myself grow up and just preparing myself for the future. The culture that we have there at BYU really helps you do that. The players are really mature. The schooling is great. Everyone really cares about you there, so it’s a catch for me. Being away from home is nice and trying to grow up a little bit on my own.”

BYU senior setter Ryan Boyce

On whether having Final Four experience makes a difference
“We just want to keep playing. Volleyball is a great sport and we are having a lot of fun. This has been a great year for us as a team and everyone seems to be on the same page. So we just want to keep playing and keep staying together as a team and go from there.”

On whether the change in altitude affects his setting
“I don’t think so. The field house we play in at home is a really small venue. Then you get to here where it’s a big venue. We practiced at the Marriott Center, the basketball arena there at BYU, just to get used it and so I think everyone is feeling good and everyone is just excited to get out there and play. We just want to play.”

On why he chose BYU
“I wasn’t heavily recruited at all out of high school. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that I was going to have opportunities to go to school, serve a mission, and do all those things that I wanted to do in my life. So BYU has just been a great school for me to go to. I met my wife, served a mission and accomplished all of the goals that I’ve wanted to accomplish so far. That’s the reason I went to BYU.”


Ben Patch announced as a member of the Men's Junior Training Team

Apr 30, 2013 - Posted by Whitney Weekes at 3:46 pm | Updated: April 30, 2013 3:47 pm | Permalink

USA Volleyball has announced the 22 players that will comprise the 2013 U.S. Men’s Junior National Volleyball Training Team.

From the roster of 22, 12 players will be chosen to compete in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship as well as the U21 Pan American Cup.

Eleven of the players on the training team, including Patch, were part of the 2012 U.S. Men’s Junior National Team that won the NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship in Colorado Springs. Patch was named the tournament MVP.

The 2013 FIVB Men’s U21 World Championships will be Aug. 22-Sept. 1 in Ankara and Izmir, Turkey. The World Championship competition for athletes born in 1993 or later will be much fiercer than at the 2012 NORCECA Championship, where the U.S. Men’s Junior Team won the gold medal having lost only one set in five matches against regional opponents.

The U.S. Men’s Junior National Training Team will first gather on June 16-20 in Southern California. During that time, the team will scrimmage Russia’s boys’ youth national team and the roster will be trimmed to 12 players. The team will then compete in the U21 Pan American Cup on July 12-20 in Costa Rica. Around Aug. 10, the team will reconvene at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to train for the world championship in Turkey.

For the complete release, visit

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.