What were you doing 12 years ago today? I was in front of a television and a computer in Pensacola, FL, watching the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. That draft included the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting defensive lineman Ziggy Hood out of Missouri 32nd overall in the first round.
Hood being drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 2009 was a little bit of a surprise. For starters, he wasn’t the perfect scheme fit for the Steelers at the time. Second, neither Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert nor head coach Mike Tomlin attended Hood’s Missouri Pro Day ahead of the draft. To date, that’s the last time the Steelers drafted a player in the first round who did not have at least Colbert or Tomlin present at his Pro Day.
While there are many who perceive the selection of Hood by the Steelers in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft as being a huge faux pau and a bust, that really isn’t the case. Hood went on to play 80 career games with the Steelers from 2009 to 2013. During that span he had 140 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 23 quarterback hits and 11.5 sacks. He never missed a game while with the Steelers.
When you look back at the next 13 players selected after Hood was picked by the Steelers to close out the first round, he was really the best choice of them all. Especially considering that defensive line ranked high on the team’s needs that year.
Hood left the Steelers in 2014 as an unrestricted free agent. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Hood to a four-year deal worth $16 million, with $5.5 million guaranteed. Hood, however, only played one season with the Jaguars. He was released by them midway through the 2015 season after finishing rehabbing an injury on the team’s Reserve/Injured list.
Following his release from the Jaguars, Hood went on to play for the Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team, and the Miami Dolphins.
Below is Hood’s 2009 post-selection press conference transcript, along with the initial bio the team released of him after drafting him.
University of Missouri
Palo Duro High School
1st Round – 32nd Overall
The Tigers’ unit allowed only 124.86 yards per game rushing in 2008, ranking second in the Big Twelve Conference and 12th in the nation in tackles for loss, registering an average of 7.43 stops behind the line of scrimmage per game. Called by head coach Gary Pinkel, “the most tenacious player on the team,” Hood more than lived up to that reputation. Despite constantly battling double team coverage, he collected 10 sacks, 15 stops behind the line of scrimmage and sixteen quarterback pressures the last two seasons as the team’s starting weak-side defensive tackle. Hood was a highly-regarded athlete and much sought prospect that excelled on defense and also played tight end for Palo Duro High School. He ranked as the 35th-best weak-side defensive end in the nation, according to the experts at Rivals.com and was named District 3-4A Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, when he registered 93 tackles and 13 sacks. That season, Hood also scored three defensive touchdowns on the year and recovered three fumbles. He earned AII-District honors each of his last two years. He registered 76 tackles as a junior, including five sacks and also returned an interception for a touchdown. In addition to football, he threw the shot and discus for his school’s track team. Hood chose to attend Missouri in 2005, as he turned down scholarship offers from Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Texas-EI Paso and Baylor, among others. The coaches were originally going to red-shirt him, but in August camp, he earned a spot with the second unit at weak-side defensive tackle, going on to play in 12 games. He was in on 23 tackles (13 solos), 1.5 sacks and 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. The sophomore seized a starting opportunity in 2006. He started off the season terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, but in the third game vs. New Mexico, he suffered a foot fracture that required surgery to insert a screw. The staff projected that he would be forced to miss the rest of the season, but each week, Hood predicted he would be back the following game. After missing just three games, Hood returned to the gridiron, despite playing with pain the rest of the season. With his reputation as a “tough hombre” established, he went out and delivered 36 tackles (24 solos) that included four sacks, four pressures and two forced fumbles while playing weak-side tackle and nose guard. That was just the start of great things to come. In 2007, Hood was named All-Big Twelve Conference honorable mention. The weak-side tackle started all 14 games, coming up with 49 tackles (30 solos). Despite constant double coverage, he finished third on the squad with five sacks and had a career-high eight stops for losses. He caused three fumbles, recovered another and broke up five passes. After producing six tackles and 1.5 sacks vs. Arkansas in the Cotton bowl, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel called that Hood’s best game in a Tigers’ uniform. Hood continued to be relentless in his pursuit of opposing quarterbacks in 2008, as five of his 12 pressures caused interceptions. The team captain and All-Big Twelve first-team choice was in on 62 tackles (31 solos) that included seven stops behind the line of scrimmage and five sacks. He also recovered two fumbles and blocked one kick.
Hood started the last 31 (35 total) of the 50 games he played in at Missouri…Finished his career with 170 tackles (98solos), 15.5 sacks for minus 76 yards, 22.5 stops for losses totaling 111 yards and 22 quarterback pressures…His 15.5 sacks tied C.J. Mosley (2002-04) for seventh on the school’s all-time record list…Also caused five fumbles and had three fumble recoveries…Deflected eight passes and blocked one kick.
Consensus All-Big Twelve Conference first-team selection…Added Academic All-Big Twelve second-team accolades…Team captain and named the Tigers’ Defensive Lineman of the Year… Started all fourteen games at weakside defensive tackle, recording a career-high 62 tackles (31 solos)… Ranked second on the team with five sacks for minus 37 yards and had seven stops for losses of 42 yards…Credited with 12 quarterback pressures, as he recovered two fumbles, deflected a pair of passes and blocked one kick…Helped the team rank second in the league and 1st in the nation with an average of 7.43 tackles for loss per game…Part of a front wall that gave up just 124.86 yards per game rushing…Held the opposition to 97 yards on 40 running plays he was involved in (2.43 ypc), as he made eight third-down stops vs. the run and allowed just seven first downs with no touchdowns and stopped opposing ball carriers for no gain on ten of those rushing attempts…Ten of his OB pressures came on third-down snaps and another on fourth down…Registered 10 tackles inside the red zone, including six on goal line plays.
Won honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from both league media and coaches for his play, which included career-best numbers in every major category…Ended the year with 49 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 4 QB hurries and 3 forced fumbles…Ended the year strongly with a 6-tackle, 1.5 sack game in MU’s win over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl that Coach Gary Pinkel labeled as his best game in a Tiger uniform…Had a huge opener against Illinois, recording five tackles in all, including 1.5 QB sacks…Also added two forced fumbles and one QB pressure against the Illini…Had two tackles (one solo and one assist) and had a QB hurry against Ole Miss…Made seven tackles, including one TFL against Western Michigan…Picked up his first-career fumble recovery in the second quarter against WMU…Had a great game against Nebraska, batting down two passes at the line of scrimmage, while recording three total tackles…Made seven tackles against Iowa State and recorded a sack…Made two stops against Texas A&M and had another pair of tackles against Kansas State…Recorded three stops against Kansas and also had a pass break up, his fifth of the year…Made three stops, including one TFL, against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship.
Had his true sophomore season derailed somewhat by a broken foot in the third game of the season, but he returned to play in the final seven games, playing at not quite 100 percent health…Opened his sophomore season on a tear, recording 13 tackles, 3 sacks and 4 TFLs in the season’s first three games, before breaking a foot in game three at New Mexico…Had surgery on Sept. 18th to insert a screw, and returned to action against Texas A&M on Oct. 14, missing just three games, amazingly enough…Saw action for 20 snaps at A&M and had one tackle in his return…Had a career-high 36 total tackles, and ended the regular season with a two-tackle outing against Kansas that included one QB sack that forced a fumble which was recovered by Mizzou inside the KU 20-yardline in the 4th quarter…The Tiger offense converted with a TD to effectively put the game away…Had three stops, and one pass broken up, in the Sun Bowl against Oregon State…Was named the winner of the team’s Rigman Outstanding Underclassman Leadership Award…Had four stops vs. K-State…Returned to the starting lineup against Oklahoma, recording five total tackles…Had five stops against Nebraska and made three stops in Iowa State game…Recorded 1.5 sacks in each game against Murray State and Ole Miss, and had a career-best six total tackles vs. the Rebels…Was leading the team through three games with his three sacks before his injury, and still ranked 4th on the club…Saw action in 10 games overall, including seven starts.
True freshman who came in and impressed from day one, and earned playing time despite his youth and inexperience…Saw action in all 12 games, registering 23 total tackles, including 2.5 TFLs (10 yards) and 1.5 QB sacks (9 yards)…Was credited with two tackles in Mizzou’s Independence Bowl win over South Carolina, with both of them coming in the 4th quarter…The latter of the two was a huge stop on a 3rd-and-8 play from the MU 15-yardline that went for only two yards and forced USC to try a field goal that kept the score tied at 31 apiece…Had at least two tackles each in eight straight games, from game #3 against Troy, through game 10 against Baylor, in which he recorded a season-best five tackles, and 1.5 QB sacks…Had three tackles at Colorado, and added one QB hurry…Notched two tackles against Nebraska, including his first collegiate tackle for loss.
Highly-regarded athlete who excelled on defense and also played tight end for Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas…Ranked as the No. 35 weakside defensive end in the nation, according to the experts at Rivals.com…Was named district 3-4A defensive player of the year as a senior, when he registered 93 tackles and 13 QB sacks…Also scored three defensive TDs on the year and recovered three fumbles…Earned all-district honors each of his last two years…Had 76 stops as a junior, including five QB sacks and also returned one interception for a TD…Threw the shot and discus for his school’s track team…High school coach – Steve Parr.
Biology major…Son of Mary Payne and Charles Hood…Nicknamed “Ziggy,” a name given to him by his grandmother as a child…Born 2/16/87…Resides in Amarillo, Texas.
POST SELECTION MEDIA SESSION TRANSCRIPT
Evander “Ziggy” Hood:
Should it be Evander, or Ziggy?
Whatever you prefer.
How did you feel when you saw your name come up?
I don’t know. I couldn’t describe the feeling. My stomach just tightened up of a sudden and I choked and I almost fainted. I almost fainted.
Was this the team that you thought might take you?
At this point, I had no idea. My agent was telling me look forward to Detroit, or [Pick] 24 with Atlanta or [Pick] 27 to Indy. Then he sent me late text messages to tell me, “be on the rise for Tennessee or Pittsburgh.” I said, okay, after the 27th pick, I had no choice but to wait. When my name popped up, I almost dropped the phone.
How do you feel about playing end in a 3-4 defense?
I feel excited especially for the Super Bowl team. Just to be part of [the team] known as the Steel Curtain, it’s just a real honor. There is no problem for me playing 5-technique. I have no problems adjusting and doing whatever it takes.”
Have you ever played in a 3-4 defense?
We played it a little bit. It depends on our scheme. We played it against OU (Oklahoma) or KU (Kansas) and maybe a little bit against Colorado, but never up to the point where it was a 2-gap system.”
You are more of a gap-shooting tackle. What about playing 2-gap and holding up the point for the linebackers?
I guess I probably have to work more with my hands to develop more punch off the ball because I always can do some work at penetrating. We did a lot of stunting [and] a lot of blitzing. But over time I will learn and the quickness will get better. And I have no problem adjusting.”
Where does the Ziggy nickname come from?
My grandmother is Mexican. Half of my other side is Mexican, so my mother couldn’t speak English for me so she gave me Ziggy, the cartoon character.
What part of your family is Mexican?
My mother’s side.
Did she emigrate?
She was born and raised in Brackettville, Texas.
Where are you right now and who’s with you and how does everyone feel about you being drafted in the first round?
This whole town is fans going bananas right now. Everybody is excited. I can see it in everybody’s faces. I think it’s just a sign of relief that somebody has opened the door for this opportunity before somebody else may take the chance of me walking in the draft next year.
How aware are you of the history here? And did you grow up rooting for the Steelers at all; did you follow them?
I knew about the Steel Curtain, but never to the extent of other people. I was more of a Denver Broncos fan. I didn’t grow up too much listening about the Pittsburgh Steelers because at the time they were not my team. But now that it is, I’m going to learning everything, every history point.
Who were you rooting for in the Super Bowl in February?
I was rooting for my team. I was rooting for us.
As far as [the Steelers’] defensive ends right now, a lot of people are saying they have to get younger along the defensive line. How quickly do you think you can step in learning the 3-4 end position and make an impact?
As quick as possible. My work begins tomorrow. I’m going to come in and study as hard as I can, just give an opportunity if a vet needs a quick breather, and allow me to put in for different situations. If not, I’ll come in so they can take a little time off so they don’t have to carry a lot of load on their shoulders, and really prepare myself to make the [transition] from college.
Do you think you can make it fast enough to be a starter as a rookie?
At this point, I don’t know. It may take some time. It maybe won’t be somewhere in this season or second-year season, but at this point, I don’t know. My first concern is to try to make the team. Second, try to focus on my position and, third, make a run at a starting position.
What do you remember about meeting with Coach Mitchell? What do you think it was that impressed him?
Really it was more than my ability, speed, and strength. I think the way I presented myself and I feel like I came off as a good character. And I think I knew a little bit about the game and explained my defense. And really sitting there and getting talks with Coach Tomlin and the rest of the coaching staff and making myself available to where I can be coached and have no problem being coached and I don’t mind fixing and adjusting to different things..
How much did you talk to the Steelers leading up to the draft?
I had one 15-minute meeting with the Steelers and after that I didn’t hear too much about it until today from my agent after the 27th pick.
Is it safe to say they really weren’t on your radar as far as a team that would draft you?
I had no idea. I thought they were looking for offensive linemen, maybe a linebacker if not. But I had no idea they were looking for a defensive tackle, but if they wanted one a defensive end. I don’t know, I guess I was under their radar, but I’m glad I fell into a great organization.
At any point watching on TV did you look at Aaron Smith or Brett Keisel and say I can play that position and play like that?
I think anything I put my mind to I know I can do it. I don’t have any problem with any situation that can hold me back. With that said I’m going to take everything I can and everything I know and put it to become one of those star players and make sure I don’t let down the whole Steelers organization.
Who’s your agent?
When are you coming to Pittsburgh?
As soon as possible. I have to check my e-mail to get my itinerary and get at it.