Spring Football: Gerasin Looking for a Chance

April 13, 2007

By Nicholas Trost
GoHuskies.com contributing writer

SEATTLE -- For most freshman, enjoying the University of Washington's football games from the bleachers is enough. Sitting in the stands and going crazy is usually all that a student can handle. But not Zach Gerasin. He wanted more. He wanted a chance to play football for the Huskies.

Recently Gerasin earned that chance as a walk on place kicker for the Husky football team. Yep, that's right a walk on. He's embarked on the journey to transform himself from Joe Nobody to hopefully Joe Jarzynka, the former Husky walk on that made quite a name for himself in the 90's.

For Gerasin, the odds are against him. The UW football program is no joke. With more Rose Bowl victories than any other Pac-10 team, the Huskies has always been a conference powerhouse. It is for these reasons that people find his situation hard to believe. But Gerasin is not about to back down.

'Pretty much everyone I told was pretty much in awe, like `Are you serious? Wait! Like the intramural football team?' They had to check me three times.'

Frankly no one believes in Gerasin. They might say they do up front, but in the back of their minds they say that there is no chance. The only one who believes in him, is well, himself. Even through this adversity, he believes that in the future he can contribute.

'Down the road anything can happen,' says Gerasin. 'If I keep working hard then I can do it.'

Gerasin is competing for a kicking position that is stacked with talent. With Ryan Perkins in tow, scholarship freshman Eric Folk set to report in the fall, and JC transfer Jared Ballman also in the mix; it could be a while before Gerasin gets his shot. With so much potential competition for one job, one could expect some gamesmanship, but that is not the case.

Gerasin, who never played high school football, has turned to Perkins for advice. Perkins, who is capable of winning both punter and kicker jobs has been more than willing to tutor Gerasin.

'He told me that I had to make quicker steps and get the ball up quicker and sooner.'

If Gerasin can get the form down then that might be his hardest battle. Playing three sports in high school has allowed him to lead the conditioning drills in practice. Something that surprised even him.

'When it comes to long distance runs or sprints, I am definitely at the head of the pack on those, which I was surprised about. I mean, this is a Division I, Pac-10 sports team. I am doing really well running.'

Even though Gerasin has not talked to the coaches about his chances of actually dressing for the fall football team, he still feels that he will be third-string at worst.

'We have guys coming from high school on scholarships to play this position but I think that I think that third on the depth chart would be the worst-case scenario.'

Not bad for a freshman from Lander Hall who decided last-second to go the walk-on tryouts. He went simply because he hadfree time and his friends wanted him to try out.

'I was going to the IMA working out and getting in good shape because I really had nothing else to do. I figured why not? It is such a good opportunity I might as well give it a shot.'

Realizing that this might turn into a real opportunity, he relied on his soccer skills that he gained from playing four years of varsity high school soccer. Daily, Gerasin would go down to the IMA fields and kick footballs, soccer ball style mind you, to whoever was wiling to shag them.

His dedication and determination have brought him to where he is now. If he can withstand waking up at 6:00 AM for practice, then he knows he can get through most anything else. In high school Gerasin chose not to play football after his freshman year because he wanted to have a life. Even though Gerasin realizes that he could have gained more experience with three more years of football under his belt, he still has no regrets.

'I don't regret it at all. I loved high school. I think my time off in the summer was very well spent. I met a lot of cool people and just enjoyed life so I am happy with what I did because I am here today. I would have never had this opportunity without all of that.'

No matter what happens in Spring practice, Gerasin already has a sense of accomplishment. He began as just another freshman from Lander Hall, with no regrets and a great work ethic, and a right foot that may be better off kicking soccer balls to a guy trying to make it on a fabled football team. If history has taught us anything we should give guys with this much determination a chance.

'I have this great opportunity and I am going to put everything into it that I can. I look at it as an insanely awesome opportunity, and I am really grateful for it and I am going to pursue it as much as I can. I just want to enjoy it.'

If we can learn anything from Gerasin it would be that no matter the odds, if you work hard, you have the possibility of getting that chance. Let's hope that Gerasin gets his on the field of Husky Stadium.

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