ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Kyle Van Noy is ready for the reunion. He's ready to line up again behind the player whom he believed in from the beginning -- behind the player he once told if he kept working hard enough, he could be a high draft pick.
The player Van Noy touted back then was Ezekiel Ansah. The two were teammates and sometimes roommates at BYU, where Ansah first played football and learned a lot about the game.
"The first time I met him, I was like, 'Dang, he's big and he has a lot of potential,'" Van Noy said. "I told him he could go really high in the draft if he works really hard and masters his craft. He's got good enough to go to the Lions, and last year, he did pretty well.
"He just has to stay healthy and we'll see him as a Pro Bowler in my opinion.”
Van Noy believed in Ansah then. He still does now -- and they will again be teammates after Van Noy was selected by the Lions in the second round Friday night. And this time, it was Ansah expressing excitement about being reunited with his former roommate, tweeting about the pick and then calling Van Noy to celebrate with him.
When Ansah called, the two started laughing, and then Ansah started calling Van Noy "teammate” again. And his happiness didn't stop there.
"Already texted me and said, ‘Great, can't wait until he gets here,'" defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "I think those guys, any time you have some people, it'll help Kyle because he's coming into a new situation, that somebody's here to show him the ropes and tell him how it works.
"I think that's always good.”
The Lions, in essence, found Van Noy because of Ansah. When Detroit's staff started scouting Ansah for the 2013 draft, it kept noticing the guy behind him making a lot of plays -- and Van Noy, a junior, was in the midst of his best season, when he had 53 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, seven pass breakups and two interceptions.
So while the Lions didn't necessarily take major notes on Van Noy then, they definitely remembered who he was when they started scouting this season.
"It was ‘Who is this guy?'" Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. "We were watching Ziggy and this guy is making all these plays.”
The guy who made all those plays turned into someone Detroit had at or near the top of its board entering the second round. Mayhew was so insistent on grabbing him -- or one of the other three players he said were must-gets entering the second day -- that the Lions started with Houston at pick 33 and kept calling until they found a suitable trade-up partner.
Seattle was willing to make the move, so the Lions were able to get their target and reunited two old friends and teammates along with filling a linebacker need.
"I'm happy where I'm at,” Van Noy said. "I landed at a great spot.”