Continued Improvement Makes Zusevics a Starter

April 15, 2010

Video interview with M. Zusevics

IOWA CITY, Iowa — There’s a lot to be said about football players studying game film and working hard. A prime example is Markus Zusevics.

Markus who?

Markus Zusevics, who, if he isn’t a household name for University of Iowa fans now, will be in the near future.

“Markus might be one of our most improved guys,” UI offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “He’s having a good spring. He’s doing a nice job up front and developing into a leader in his own right.”

Zusevics will complete spring drills penciled in as the starting right tackle. Last season he progressed nicely behind Kyle Calloway, but didn’t see a wealth of playing time.

“I saw a little bit of time on special teams and basically whenever they threw the second offensive line in there,” Zusevics said. “I got to see a little action, but not that much.”

The 6-foot-5, 295-pound junior from Arlington Heights, Ill. (Prospect High School), continued to work hard and concentrated on studying tape.

“I learned a lot, especially from Calloway and (Bryan) Bulaga,” Zusevics said. “They showed me different techniques and what to expect out of different alignments — a lot of schematic stuff that has helped me along the way.”

Last season the Hawkeyes averaged 336.3 yards per game — nearly 60 more yards per game than their opponents. Gone from the offensive front are Bulaga, Calloway, Rafael Eubanks, Dace Richardson and Dan Doering. Zusevics and sophomore Riley Reiff will open fall camp as the bookend tackles on a line that could also start guards Adam Gettis and Julian Vandervelde and either Josh Koeppel or James Ferentz at center.

“It’s definitely a little different for me now,” Zusevics said. “Being one of the more veteran offensive linemen, I need to take more of a leadership role. I have to come out here every day with my best effort, best attitude and best intensity, because if you’re starting and you take one day off, you’re going to be on the second team real quick.”

Zusevics will stay in Iowa City this offseason, taking summer classes and continuing with the strength and conditioning program.

“My number one goal is to start this season and start all the way through,” Zusevics said. “I want us to have a successful offensive line.”

The trio of quarterback Ricky Stanzi and running backs Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher accounted for 321.8 yards of total offense a game in 2009. All three return and the backfield will add Jewel Hampton, who as a freshman in 2008, rushed for 463 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Rick’s doing a great job leading us out there,” Zusevics said. “We have a couple good running backs and it’s good to see those guys out there.”

The nationally ranked Hawkeyes will make their debut for 2010 on Saturday, April 17, at the annual Coca-Cola Classic Spring Practice, beginning at 1:05 p.m. The west grandstand and south grandstand will be open for spectators. Gates A, B, and E will open at 11:30 a.m. There is no admission charge, but fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation to the Johnson County Crisis Center.

“I’m really excited for it,” Zusevics said. “It will be like another scrimmage. I’m going to go out there and do my best.”

Iowa will have its final practice inside the Kenyon Football Practice Facility on Thursday afternoon before having an off-day Friday and scrimmaging Saturday.