Elite Class Senior Spotlight: Zach Larsen, OL, Southern Utah University
Posted by: Jeremiah Wait @mrfootballwait, December 30, 2019
Zach Larsen of Southern Utah is one of the most decorated centers in recent FCS history, which is why he should absolutely be on draft radars for NFL teams. Besides being the 2019 Rimington Award winner at the FCS level, awarded to the top center in every level of NCAA football, he’s also been a three-time first team All-Big Sky Conference honoree. Larsen has been a starter for the Thunderbirds since his freshman year and has been one of the best players in the FCS over the course of his four years.
College: Southern Utah
-Where are you from?
-Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
- My Dad. He started his own landscaping company when he was first married with just a lawn mower and trimmer, and he now has around 20 employees working for him. He is an incredibly hard worker and has taught me how I need to work in order to be successful in life. Even though he works really hard he also took the time to be with his kids. He coached me and all his sons in football all through little league.
-What are you looking to gain from the CGS (College Gridiron Showcase)?
- I want to play against some of the best players in the country, and learn from some great coaches there. I also want to start to get my name out there more. I want to prove that I can complete with anyone in the country.
-What has been the biggest adversity you’ve faced in your life, and how did you deal with it?
- I have always been a shorter lineman. People have told me time and time again that I am too short to play this position, or that I will not have much success at it. I have learned to deal with this my whole life. I just put my head down and go to work. I work harder than anyone else. I have realized that I have been blessed with different talents and abilities and I don’t need height to prove who I am, and I continue to prove those who doubted me wrong.
-What is one weakness that you have as a person that you need to improve upon?
- I get very task oriented and I sometimes forget to show the people around me how much I care about them. I am always trying to work on this.
-Why do you love football?
- It teaches you a lot of life lessons that you will use for the rest of your life. plus, I get to beat people up and I don’t get in trouble for it.
-Who was the toughest player you played against in college and why?
- Jay-Tee Tiuli, Eastern Washington, currently with the Broncos. He was a very stout and strong player.
-Describe your college football playing career?
- I was a very dominant player. I was a 3-time first team all-conference center. I was a 3-time all-American. I was also the FCS Remington Award winner my senior year. I am very blessed to have had a successful career with many accolades.
-When was a situation where you faced a bunch of adversity as a team, and how did you deal with it?
- My sophomore year we were picked to finish in the conference in 9th place. We lost our first conference game of the year, to start 0-1 in conference play. We didn’t care what anyone else thought about us, and our motto was leave no doubt. We were on a mission to prove who we were and we did it. We were humble and just went and played the game we knew how to play. We went on to beat 5th ranked Eastern Washington, and 12th ranked Weber State to finish 7-1 in conference with a big sky championship.
-What separates yourself from other players at your position?
- I have been overlooked my whole life because of my height. I have the drive to prove everyone wrong. People said that I was too short to play college; I became a three time all-conference and all-American center, and the FCS Remington award winner. You don’t see many other people at my position that have those accolades. I am sick and tired of people saying that I am too short and I am going to do all I can to show that my height does not affect my play.
-What is your biggest strength?
- I am physically dominant and strong. I am a finisher. I don’t just get my block and job done; I make sure the guy across from me does not want to keep playing the rest of the game. I am relentless.
-What do you think needs to be improved the most with your game?
- Sometimes because I want to dominate my opponent, I become too aggressive and get caught leaning on my blocks. I need to make sure I have the correct leverage and footwork when I find myself leaning to sustain the block.
-What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?
- I was a true freshman playing my first college game against the University of Utah. Lowell Lotulelei was the starting NG. I pancaked him the first play.
-What is your definition of success?
- Getting better every day. Being able to see the progression in all you do. You are going to have some ups and downs but are you consistently going up is the question to ask yourself. My coach always tells us, “When you are green you grow, when you are ripe you rot.” You always have to have that mentality to be successful, never be satisfied and always do more. That is when you are successful.
-What is something interesting about yourself that many people don’t know about?
- I served a church mission for 2 years in Finland. So, I speak Finnish.
-What keeps you motivated to play football?
- I love this game and want to play it as long as I can. I also want to provide for my wife and for my future kids the best I can.
-How would teammates and coaches describe you?
- As an o-line unit at SUU we have a creed we live by. We are Detail Oriented, Relentless, Physically Dominant. That is exactly what I am. I’m a finisher. I impose my will on the person across the line of scrimmage. My teammates expect to see multiple pancakes and knock downs each game. You will never see me have a lack of effort moment; I am always giving it my all.
-What are three things you feel that you need in order to be successful in football?
- 1. The ability to be coached. Never being satisfied with where you are at. You are not perfect, and you can always learn.
- 2. A relentless and physically dominant attitude. This game is physical, and you have to match the intensity and go beyond what any of your opponents do.
- 3. Detail oriented. This game is very detailed and technical and you have to be able to be a master at the technique to be successful.
-What do you like to do for fun?
- I love the outdoors: mountain biking, fishing, camping, yard games, anything outside. I also love playing the ukulele.
*As decorated of a collegiate player as Zach Larsen may be, he’s had to work hard for everything that he’s ever received, because he’s always been overlooked no matter what level he’s played at. He’s someone that always plays with a chip on his shoulder, and it shows with his ability to finish blocks. You can’t coach effort and heart, and that’s something that you’re always going to get from him. Larsen is excellent in run blocking and pass blocking, and is always putting himself in the best position to make a block. He has great footwork and technique, and is definitely someone you need to keep an eye out for at the CGS in Fort Worth, TX and in this years upcoming 2020 NFL draft. He’s one of the best offensive line prospects and will immediately help whatever team takes him.