BROOKINGS – Former Jackrabbit All-American and current Detroit Lion Zach Zenner was in Brookings recently for an FCA kids’ football camp at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
“It went well,” said the 26-year-old running back. “I thought the kids had fun, and that’s the most important thing. It was a safe, fun camp; so that was the goal.
“And T.J. (Carlson) and the FCA crew and all the player volunteers that we had did a great job, so it was good.”
Zenner has been busy on and off the field. He and his wife Alyssa, who got married in 2016, recently welcomed their first child.
“It’s going well,” he said when asked about the NFL grind. “My wife and I had a son – Zayne – he was born in February; so that’s been really fun for us kind of getting into the new parenthood lifestyle.
“And then getting my body ready for my fourth NFL season this summer; getting prepared.”
Zenner signed with the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and earned a roster spot after leading the NFL in rushing yards during the preseason.
He appeared in six games as a rookie, running 17 times for 60 yards and adding two receptions covering 11 yards. He missed the remainder of the season due to injuries.
His best season as a professional came in 2016, when he played in 14 games. He rushed 88 times for 334 yards with four touchdowns and added 18 catches for 196 yards. He also had four tackles.
Last season, Zenner, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds, picked up 26 yards on 14 attempts with one TD in eight contests. He returned three kicks for 62 yards.
In 28 career games, he has 119 rushes for 420 yards and 20 receptions for 207 yards.
When asked for the outlook for the Lions in 2018, Zenner said: “We’re working hard; we’re working to be the best team we can be.”
In addition to his family life and playing in the NFL, Zenner is staying active in the medical field.
“It’s going really well,” he said. “I’ve been with Dr. (Jill) Weimer down in Sioux Falls; she’s at the Sanford Research building. I’ve been working with her lab and that lab’s been great helping me out, bringing me along.
“I’ve been doing some image analysis for them and I’ve been doing a little writing for them, as well.”
Zenner’s post-NFL plans have remained the same – medical school.
“Absolutely, that’s the plan right now; head down to Sanford School of Medicine. That’s the game plan,” he added.
Zenner, who played at SDSU from 2011-14 after redshirting in 2010, is the Missouri Valley Football Conference career leader in rushing yards (6,548), all-purpose yards (8,211), touchdowns (69), rushing touchdowns (61), points (416) and rushing attempts (1,095).
He had three consecutive 2,000-yard seasons to close out his college career. Zenner twice ran for a single-game school-record 295 yards. He tied a national record with a 99-yard touchdown scamper on Sept. 1, 2012, at Kansas.
In the FCS ranks, Zenner is third all-time in rushing yards – 11 off the record of 6,559 – and all-purpose yards. He is first in all-purpose yards and second in rushing yards in Jackrabbit history.
Register photo: Above, former Jackrabbit Zach Zenner speaks to the 100-plus participants following his FCA football camp on June 22 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings. Zenner is keeping busy on and off the field as he and his wife, Alyssa, recently welcomed their first child and he continues to stay active in the medical field. Zenner is entering his fourth season in the NFL with the Detroit Lions this year.
Detroitlions.com photo: Below, Zenner (34) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during a game against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 10, 2017, at Ford Field in Detroit.