When North Andover (Mass.) Buckingham Browne & Nichols takes the field for the first time this season against Choate Rosemary Hall on Aug. 31, Michigan offensive line commit Zak Zinter will walk out for the coin toss. There is an old adage about letting a team’s biggest, most physically intimidating players get off the bus first and Zinter (6-6, 300 pounds) is certainly that.
But having his team vote him captain was not just about being big.
“He’s a leader that is not afraid to hold his teammates accountable,” BB&N head coach Mike Willey said. “He is focused on the goals we have as a program and developing into a very good leader. This season, he will step into a bigger role being one of the captains of the team, but he’s up for the challenge. Some people think that means walking out for the coin flip, but in our program, it’s not. It’s about holding teammates accountable and pushing us in the right direction.”
This trust Zinter has from his coaches and teammates has been cultivated in a fairly short amount of time. He was a sophomore starter at St. John’s Prep before transferring to BB&N his junior year. His physical attributes were immediately noticeable to Willey and his staff, but his intangible qualities also quickly become apparent.
“He is an exceptional young man that happens to have a lot of talent as a football player, and also add in that he works tremendously hard and that’s, I think, what attracted Michigan to him,” Willey said.
Before he transferred, Zinter had set several weight room records at St. John’s Prep. That strength translates onto the football field, where Zinter is a dominant run blocker. Opponents may want to shield their eyes from this next part, but he has continued to work to improve that strength.
“He is definitely a big, strong kid,” Willey said. “But he’s worked incredibly hard in the weight room and brought himself to the elite strength level – upper body, lower body – the whole package. He is also very athletic. He runs well. He can pick them up and put them down. He has a lot of physical tools but he has developed that, so that stands out. He is very coachable. He learned a lot. He has improved his technique quite a bit and become a great football player.”
That drew a lot of schools to Zinter. He had 28 offers including Notre Dame, Auburn, Florida and Ivy League opportunities like Harvard and Dartmouth. Michigan gave him a complete package.
“Michigan had everything I was looking for (in a football program), and on top of that it has great academics,” Zinter said. “It has a top-rated business school. It has big-time football, a strong brotherhood and a coach I know who can develop me as a player, so I know I can get to that next level.”
“He obviously had a lot of great options, a lot of great programs,” Willey added. “He made a good connection with the Michigan coaches and felt comfortable there. He met the guys on the team and that along with, Zak’s a very academic kid, and he wanted a great business program. He felt like that was the best fit for him overall.”
And in Zinter, the Wolverines are also getting a complete package.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.