Former South Dakota State Running Back Zach Zenner Quickly Becoming a Favorite with Detroit Lions
Zach Zenner's football career has been defined at nearly every stop by one word: underdog.
Despite a standout high school career in the Twin Cities, none of the big FBS schools came calling to get Zenner to play college football on a big stage. Zenner instead opted for the FCS and South Dakota State. His numbers in Brookings were historic - a trio of 2,000 yard seasons leaving him just a dozen yards from the all-time FCS rushing mark.
But once again, his accomplishments on the field went largely unnoticed at the next level - this time the NFL. So when draft day rolled around in April, Zenner was not among the 256 players chosen. Undaunted, he waited for the opportunity to prove himself as a free agent, signing with the Detroit Lions shortly after the conclusion of the draft.
Back on the field for the first time since leaving South Dakota State, Zenner is taking part in off-season workouts at the Lions practice facility, where he is quickly making a name for himself. After three days of rookie mini-camp, The Detroit Sports Nation recently featured Zenner in a story, "Talented Underdog Zach Zenner: The Detroit Lions next Great Running Back?", throwing some pretty high praise in the direction of the undrafted free agent:
Don't be surprised if Zenner is given universal praise throughout OTA's and training camp. Don't be surprised if Zenner dominates the preseason and shoots up the depth chart while securing his spot on the 53-man roster. Don't be surprised if he becomes a mainstay in the Detroit backfield and joins fellow rookie (former Nebraska running back) Ameer Abdullah to create a fearsome duo for the Lions running attack.
In his own draft diary for Fox Sports, Zenner put to rest any notion that he is playing with some sort of chip on his shoulder after yet another career snub:
My priority isn't to make other teams mad that they didn't take me or get revenge for being "snubbed" by rubbing it in other organizations' faces.
My focus is on doing anything and everything I can to make the team that did sign me happy with its choice, so I hope the Lions are ready, because I see myself contributing for a long time to come.
Zenner's next test will come during training camp at the Lions' facility in Allen Park, Michigan later this summer, where he hopes to make a big enough impression to get his first chance for some game action, August 13, when the Lions host the Jets in the pre-season opener.