PITTSBURGH STEELERS 2009 FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKEVANDER "ZIGGY" HOODDEFENSIVE TACKLEListen To Audio InterviewConference Call
EVANDER "ZIGGY" HOOD
Defensive Tackle – University of Missouri
1st Round – 32nd Overall
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.