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by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
CATCH UP ON OUR PREVIOUS 6 OF THE TOP 10 TIGERS OF 2020:
“I know I need to get my life in order...but right now,
I'm living the dream here at LSU.”
ZACH VON ROSENBERG (PUN)
43.9 Yards Per Punt
59 PUNTS (2nd nationally)
2,593 TOTAL YARDS
LONG: 61, 60, 58 x2. 55, 54, 52, 50 x2
AT 20-10 YARD LINE: 17
INSIDE THE 10: 11
INSIDE THE 5: 6
Booting the 2nd-most punts in college football this year (59) must've felt alien to LSU's now former punter Zach Von Rosenberg:
Throughout LSU's 2019 juggernaut season, the running joke was centered around the Tigers' rampant Burrow-led offense never punting the ball; in fact with 5 extra games during our title charge, ZVR still punted 12 more times in 2020 (47) than 2019.
“It was more stressful because I didn’t know if we were going to score on the first or third play of the drive,” Von Rosenberg laughs, “You’re used to these long, drawn-out drives that are nine or 10 minutes. Then all of a sudden you’re scoring in 30 seconds or less. It was kind of a shock.”
In fact, across all 15 contests during the Tigers' 2019 title run, ZVR booted the ball 5+ times on only 4 occasions, appearing on the field for special teams' duties once during the SEC title game vs Georgia & NW State, only twice against Texas or Florida....then, in 2020's 10 game season, Von Rosenberg blasted 5+ punts against 8 teams.
Despite the odds stacked firmly against the Tigers, Zach Von Rosenberg's right foot constantly gave LSU's woeful defense a chance.
Pelini's defense were routinely handed fantastic field position, opponents backed into a corner....only to surrender a 20 yard play straight out of the gates, often nullifying ZVR's transcendental punting.
For one example: of course the onslaught from Alabama came, 55-17 with Devonta Smith catching over 200 receiving yards during the first half alone...considering the bad defensive performance, offense & special teams became more about saving face than saving the game...and still ZVR refused to allow Devonta Smith any returns whatsoever, playing better defense than LSU's own defenders.
None of ZVR's 6 punts were returned by any member of the Tide; as for ZVR vs Smith specifically, the Ray Guy recipient forced Smith into 2 fair catches & 0 returns.
Zach only became more clutch against LSU's worst enemies:
Against Florida, he blasted 3 punts inside the 20 as well as another inside the 5 yard line, constantly pinning Kadarius Toney deep and forcing fair catches, eliminating Toney's explosive returns thanks to his booming, off kilter / unpredictable kicks.
There's no doubt in my mind ZVR's punting either kept LSU in games this year, or straight up won the program games (Florida, Ole Miss & especially Arkansas, 27-24 win where 5/7 of his punts were inside the 10....the Razorbacks unable to return a single punt)!
Von Rosenberg was glorious in 2020 most of all, however many forget his 7 crucial punts vs Clemson in the title game the year before. These booming 1st-2nd quarter kicks helped LSU steady an early 10 point deficit (on a field position front), especially after Burrow and co saw their first few drives offer nothing, deep inside their own 10 yard line.
As for this past year, his punting directly supplied the Tigers at least 2 of their 5 victories this past year, that's how crucial he was...hell, just watch the 2020 Ole Miss game....he jukes a rusher before blasting off a 40-45 yard punt on the run...he was incredible!
ZVR pulled off a few punts nobody had ever seen, with his jukes, his on the run blastage, he was a man of multifaceted athletic talents....
That's how ZVR excelled in two sports for so long, pitching baseball first with his hopes resting on a career at the major league level.
Back in 2008-09, Zach became the best pitcher within Louisiana, picking up the LHSAA's "Mr. Baseball" honors in consecutive years; he'd also committed to Paul Manieri's LSU Tigers baseball program and was eager to wear the purple and gold.
But in 2009, Von Rosenberg was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 6th Round of that year's MLB Draft, receiving a sign-on bonus of $1.25 million, a promise from Pittsburgh to "pay for college" and an immediate run through their minor league rosters. His fast ball topped out at 88 mph, recorded during a showcase at the Metrodome; soon enough, Zach left Zachary and started his minor league journey.
For 6 years he bounced around from various minor league units in Pennsylvania, Florida & finally finishing on the West Virginia Power's squad, all without any luck. At 25, Zach was cut from his final roster after another injury-riddled season, facing a tough decision...giving up on his lifelong dream of baseball...and thank god...
That was when he decided to enroll at LSU ("my dream school" he said) for a semester and try his hand at football again, notoriously wanting to return to his high school position at quarterback. So, in 2015 he committed to Les Miles' Tigers and joined the program, quickly moving from quarterback to tight end due to the presence of Brandon Harris, Justin McMillan and Danny Etling in the QBs room.
"Cam Cameron, the offensive coordinator, called me and said ‘We’ll have you. I think you should play tight end,’ so I put on 30 or 40 pounds and played tight end," Von Rosenberg told 225batonrouge.com.
Soon, things took a wild twist of fate in Zach's life yet again: first, LSU's backup punter had some off-field troubles, receiving a suspension...and second, when coaches witnessed him boot a 65 yard punt in practice, he became LSU's gala punter.
Up until December 2020, ZVR was still punting for the Tigers after 47 appearances and nearly 5 years, recording an endless stint at LSU that could've even included a 6th year.
Finishing his titanic career with 8,484 yards overall from 193 total punts (44.0 per punt), holding a National Championship as part of the G.O.A.T collegiate squad, firmly headed to the NFL Draft as another NFLSU representative, Zach has to feel his LSU mission has been accomplished...... & yes, he did get to throw at least one passing attempt for the Tigers.
ZVR leaves behind an untouchable special teams legacy at LSU, one which will be tough for anyone to top.
NFL DRAFT PROJECTION:
Hard to say where he gets drafted. If I'm an NFL general manager needing a punter from this coming NFL Draft, I'm not hesitating on picking Von Rosenberg.
Just because he's from LSU?
No actually...I'd be grabbing him no matter what.
How often do you see punters as athletically gifted as ZVR, as well as being brilliant regarding punting longitude / altitude...have you ever seen a punter escape a block at the last second, juking a defender and still getting the punt off?
QUOTES FROM / ABOUT ZVR:
ZACH ON JOE BURROW:
“Joe didn’t want to just beat you, he wanted to embarrass you. He went into every game trying to make you look stupid. He didn’t care if defenses knew our plays, like Georgia (in the SEC championship game) how they knew what we were running, and they didn’t stop us.
He wasn’t trying to show off, he wasn’t trying to be flashy, He was going to come in and bury you. He wanted to score 60 points on you. He didn’t care who we were playing. He was just going to be Joe. We had this thing before games when he’d tell me how many points we were going to run on teams. I swear he was right 14 of 15 times. The only game he was wrong about was Auburn. I remember him telling me we were going to put 60 on Oklahoma. I was like, 'C’mon man, 60 points? This is a Final Four game.' Then, we went out and scored 63.
We rooted for him to get hit because he’d come out of the hit a different person. As soon as you hit him, the game is over. You’ve inspired a deranged man, he’d be livid. There’s no coming back from that. Joe 2.0 was about to shove it up their rear.”
ORGERON AFTER ZVR PLAYED PRACTICE QB IN 2020:
"(He) beat our defense a little bit..."
ON HIS NEXT MOVE AFTER BASEBALL:
"What do you think about me trying out for football?"
ON BEING THE OLDEST PLAYER IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL DURING 2020:
“I know I need to get my life in order,” Von Rosenberg said, chuckling, “but right now, I'm living the dream here at LSU.”
ORGERON ON THE LSU V ARKANSAS GAME (2020):
“The difference in the game was the field position."
BLAKE FERGUSON ON ZVR'S ATHLETICISM:
"He's weirdly skilled....He's still 'grandpa' to me!"
BLAKE FERGUSON ON ZVR BEATING JOE BURROW IN THEIR FIRST PING PONG MATCH:
"To this day Zach will not let Joe live that down!"
FERGUSON ON ZVR'S POLITICAL KNOWLEDGE:
"Everyone called him the conspiracy theorist on the team. That was another one of the many running jokes guys had with Zach, He’s the old man in the woods with the spaghetti strainer on his head because he thinks the sky’s falling and the world is ending. That’s what Zach is to us.”
ZACH'S MOTHER CRYSTAL VON ROSENBERG ON HER SON'S POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS:
“He can get out there a bit with the politics. He likes to be that person who looks into the background. He’ll say, ‘Mom, you don’t know the whole story behind that.’ And he’ll tell me.”
by Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC
THANK YOU & GOOD LUCK ZVR!
YOU'RE GEAUXING TO BE AMAZING IN THE NFL!
HE'S A TIGER LEGEND!!!!
MR. ZACH VON ROSENBERG!
SHOUTOUTS: BE SAFE & LAYER UP LOUISIANA!!! 30 DEGREES IN LA??? BONKERS!
LOVE TO YOU MARYROSE!!!