Anyone who watched Zak DeOssie ’03 play football at Andover knows that he has the skills necessary to make it big. Graduating last year from Andover after playing for three years on the Varsity Football team, serving as Captain, quarterback and MVP of the team his senior year, DeOssie’s Andover athletic career was an outstanding one. DeOssie is now a starting member of the Brown Bears’ lineup, and has made a splash at his new position of linebacker, earning the Ivy League Rookie of the Week award after outstanding play in Brown’s 21-7 victory over Cornell. He notched five solo tackles, and managed a sack for a loss of nine yards. It is rare for a freshman in college to even get playing time, but DeOssie’s level of play is so high that he has earned himself a starting spot in the Brown D and recognition as one of the best rookies in all the Ivies. DeOssie’s bid for a starting position started in the summer. DeOssie attended pre-season camp at Brown, where he prepared for the upcoming season with his future teammates. Said DeOssie, “I learned many new lifts in the weight room which are specifically for football. Lots of explosive lifts with high weights. Then there is the conditioning 3 times a week. All the players who spend the summer at Brown run together, and this raises the bar of competition in both running and lifting. Everyone is trying to beat the next guy.” He credits his summer training as why he’s been able to excel so early in his collegiate career. “Freshmen do not usually get the starting position,” said the former Andover star. “The reason I got picked was because I spent the entire summer here at Brown working out with all the older guys, this got me ready to play at this higher level. And then there is just plain old hard work, coaches see me working my butt off, they will give me my shot. Then it’s all about capitalizing on those opportunities.” Last spring DeOssie still held out the possibility of playing for Brown in the capacity of quarterback. Now, DeOssie has reevaluated his football strengths, and expects to stay in the position of linebacker. When asked if he still wants to play quarterback, DeOssie responded, “I don’t want to play QB at Brown, I want to stick with linebacker over the next four years. I’ve never played linebacker in my life, and here I am, after 3 months playing linebacker at the collegiate level. I personally believe I am a better linebacker than QB. I guess it’s in the blood.” Brown football is much more intense. “The big difference is the time commitment,” DeOssie reported. “Whether it is 6 am practices or 2 day bus rides, football never stops here. Also, the coaches don’t care what you did in high school, they are always willing to give excellent constructive criticism.” And you cannot forget the physical differences. Only the best high school football players make it into the Ivy League, and they are all the biggest and fastest guys. DeOssie explained, “There are two huge differences between college and high school, speed and size. The game is 10 times faster and the size of these guys are just insane. For example, when we face Yale this weekend, I will be covering a tight end who is 6 foot 7, 265 pounds. Big boys.” DeOssie is no small guy, and is listed as 6’ 4”, 220, but the 45-pound difference is substantial enough to make his work on Saturday difficult. If the hard work DeOssie has put in thus far is any indication, he should be just fine.
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