Zabriskie Participates In Mini-Camp With Cleveland Browns
AMES, Iowa – David Zabriskie didn’t own a pair of football cleats, but that didn’t stop Iowa State’s 2010 NCAA heavyweight champion from saying yes to another challenge. Zabriskie flew to Cleveland, Ohio, April 30-May 2 to participate in the Cleveland Browns’ rookie mini-camp.
Zabriskie spent his five-year collegiate career in the Cyclone wrestling room, leaving zero time to pursue other athletic interests. Dating back to his high school days in Branchville, N.J., “Z” never found his way to the gridiron, but that didn’t faze him in his first attempt to grapple with a pigskin. He had known a bid to an NFL camp was a possibility.
“One of Cleveland’s coaches asked me a few months ago if this was something I wanted to pursue,” Zabriskie said. “And then they got a hold of me after the draft.”
Zabriskie went through a rigorous weekend schedule of two-a-day practices and hours of team meetings.
“It was different,” Zabriskie said. “It wasn't as physically demanding as I thought it would be. I'm used to wrestling practice where you're kind of working the whole time. At the camp, you spend a lot of time going over plays, and then part of the time you're just standing there watching. It was long, though. Each day was about 15 hours.”
If Zabriskie were to attain NFL success, he wouldn’t be the first NCAA heavyweight champion to walk the same path. Stephen Neal, a member of the New England Patriots football team, was a two-time heavyweight titlist for Cal-State Bakersfield (1998-99). Carlton Haselrig, a six-time NCAA champion between Division I and II (Pitt.-Johnston, 1987-89), went on to a five-year career in the NFL. The athleticism and explosiveness generally exhibited by wrestlers can sometimes translate to the professional football ranks.
Zabriskie found himself positioned at linebacker during parts of the camp, a spot on the field with many unknown nuances.
“I gained a lot of respect for the sport,” Zabriskie said. “There is a lot of work that goes into the plays. You can't see or hear it sometimes. I found that was a major challenge to playing that position.”
The Cyclone wrestling standout exited the camp on its final day with an experience to remember.
“Sunday morning, I talked to a few guys who told me good job and thanked me for coming out,” Zabriskie said. “It was a fun experience. A few guys I talked to didn't believe I’d never played football before.”
The cleats that are on loan from the ISU football team may or may not be returned.
“I'm not sure when I'll use them again,” Zabriskie said. “But right now, that's about all I have from my football career. And a couple Browns’ t-shirts.”