Nice Article by the Elkhart Truth on former Northridge player Isaac Zickafoose found here:
Could pro football be next for Zickafoose?
BY BOB OPPENHEIM
A dream will come true for many college football players this week when they’re selected by a team during the National Football League draft.
It appears unlikely that former Northridge football standout Isaac Zickafoose will hear his name called at the draft.
But he isn’t ruling out the possibility of playing in the NFL.
A standout football career at Bluffton University has gotten Zickafoose noticed by NFL scouts.
“I feel like I have a chance to play in the NFL,” said Zickafoose. “My agent has been talking to people and he says I have a great chance.
“I’m probably going to be a (college) free agent. It’s going to be a challenge because I’m a Division III kid and people doubt you when you play at that level. But that drives me. I know I’m different. They’ve never seen a player like me. I feel like I’ve got a shot.
“I’m just going to keep working hard and keep doing the things I’m doing. I’ve been doing drills and trying to make myself a better football player.”
Zickafoose made an impact early at Bluffton and honors would soon follow.
“When I was a freshman I played on the scout team defensive line,” Zickafoose said. “On two plays I really played well against the first team offense. Coach (Denny) Dorrell told me to go play for the first and second team defensive line. He wanted me to believe in myself. He said I had a lot of potential. I started believing in myself. It was crazy.”
Playing defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker, Zickafoose finished as the school’s all-time leader in sacks with 35.5, sack yards with 228, tackles for loss with 60.5, tackles for loss yards with 308 and fumble return yards with 80.
Zickafoose was the first Bluffton athlete to earn American Football Coaches Association All-American status, as he earned second team honors in 2018. He was a four-time first team All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference selection and a three-time All-North Regional selection. Zickafoose also was twice named HCAC Defensive Most
See FOOTBALL, PAGE B2
Northridge gradute Isaac Zickafoose (7) gets set to rush from his defensive end position for the Bluffton University last fall.
From page B1
Zickafoose’s top honor came on April 16th when he received the 2019 A.C. Burcky Award, which is given to Bluffton’s senior Male Athlete of the Year.
“It’s a great honor,” Zickafoose said about winning the prestigious award. “It’s something I really didn’t expect to win. I got great support from my coaches, teammates, friends and family. I’m blessed to be able to receive it.
“I would play anywhere to help the team. I liked playing defensive end and being able to play the run and go after the quarterback. I also enjoyed playing defensive tackle, but it was challenging. In college, teams would game plan for you on the inside and sometimes you would be double-teamed. When you played on the end you’d go up against only one guy.
“Teams game planned for me more in college. In high school, there’s more 1-on-1 play. Our defense at Northridge was good. I wasn’t even the best player on our defense. Other teams focused more on Cam Ridenour and Sven Johnson.”
Beavers football coach Aaron Krepps felt the honors given to Zickafoose were richly deserved.
“Isaac is arguably the best defensive player to ever play for Bluffton University,” said Krepps in a press release after Zickafoose received the A.C. Burcky Award. “His God-given ability is easy to see, but what you appreciate most about him is his willingness to be coached. He showed up daily ready to work and he put the extra time in to hone his craft. His success was born out of persistence and determination.” Personal pride was Zickafoose’s biggest motivator.
“I competed against myself,” he said. “I didn’t want to mess up. That would be the worst feeling. Throughout the week I would prepare for my game on Saturday. I watched film on my competition. I watched the other team’s offensive linemen, running backs and quarterback. I looked at everything. I tried to play out in my head what the other team was going to do against me.”
Zickafoose bounced back to have a great senior year after being disappointed with his play during his junior season.
The 6-1, 245-pounder finished with 63 tackles – 49 solo – 11.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
“My junior year was my worst year,” Zickafoose said. “It was a frustrating year. Coaches told me if I got bigger I could be unstoppable. I then started working out and eating more. I got up to 270 pounds that season. I was able to convince myself to play at that weight. I felt comfortable but it was different. It was hard for me to play in games. I got really tired in games. It wasn’t working out for me. I had to switch up things. After the season I researched how to lose weight. I cut out meat, dairy and bread. I tried it that summer after my junior year and I lost weight and got back to 230-240 pounds. It’s a crazy thing. I’ve gotten stronger since I’ve done that. I was back in the 240-range as a senior and it was my best season.”
Zickafoose has also been recognized for his work outside of football. A 3.40 student as a sports and recreation major, Zickafoose was selected this year as a scholar student for his major.
“My GPA has improved since high school,” Zickafoose said. “In high school I was a fool. I felt like I was just going to get by. I felt I would get a full-ride in college because I was a good football player. Reality hit me that academics is a big part of going to college. Schools were telling me that I had to get my GPA up. Schools don’t want you if you’re grade are bad.
“While I was going to school at Northridge I was working at a factory in Middlebury and my boss Kent Yoder asked me where I was going to college. I said I didn’t know if I was going to college because my grades were so bad. He told me he was a board member at Bluffton University and he said he would talk to the football coach. I got a phone call from coach Dorrell. He asked me to come take a visit and I said definitely that I would make a visit. I visited the school in July and I liked it.
“Bluffton has a discovery program for students with low GPA’s and I was accepted into that program. It was one of the best opportunities that I’ve ever gotten. I didn’t let them down. I was forced to study and that’s what I did. Every night for two or three hours I would do my homework.”
Zickafoose, who will graduate in two weeks, has a plan if there’s no football in his future.
“I would like to be an athletic director,” he said. “If I could be an assistant A.D. and work under somebody’s wings that would be a great opportunity for me.”