If you see a very huge young man out in the College GameDay crowd behind Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso this weekend in Fayetteville, it just might be a guy who could help the University of Arkansas host ESPN's college football show a few times in the next four years.
Rogers prep All-American offensive lineman Lee Ziemba (6-7, 305) has thoughts of showing up to revel in the fun on Saturday morning GameDay goes on live at 9 a.m. ahead of the Razorbacks' 6 p.m game with Tennessee.
"This weekend I would like to go to the Tennessee-Arkansas game because I think that is going to real cool," Ziemba said. "All my friends are calling wanting to go with me. They all want me to take them and hang out with the Gameday stuff and all that. That should be a lot of fun.
Ziemba had planned to accompany Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns to Auburn this weekend for official visits, but the early 11:30 a.m. kickoff for the Georgia-Auburn doesn't leave him enough time to make the trip after playing on Friday night.
"I guess I might go down there in December," Ziemba said. "I am not sure. To tell you the truth I am not real worried about it right now."
Ziemba and Burns – both five-star prospects according to Scout.com and the most-talked about recruits in the state this season – are both down to Arkansas and Auburn.
Ziemba said that rumors of them both being "silent commitments" to Auburn were false.
"One of our coaches showed me where they were talking about it on one of the message boards, " Ziemba said. "I was kind of shocked. I guess that kind of stuff happens all the time in recruiting where people make up a rumor and it gets spread all over the internet like it was true. I think its kinda funny, but it is definitely not something that is true."
What is true is that Ziemba came very close to committing to the Razorbacks this summer.
"I was really close to committing to Arkansas this summer," Ziemba said. "I decided I would take one more trip to Auburn before doing it and if I didn't like it I was probably going to go ahead and commit. But I went down there and Auburn made me step back a little bit and to think about the different options."
He said he and Burns – who will still go to Auburn this weekend since his season has ended - have talked a lot about their decisions.
"We have become good friends," Ziemba said. "It's nice having someone there that has it down to the same schools. We just feed information off each other and just try and throw everything out there. It could be a different place for both of us, but it would be really neat to play college football together. It will probably turn out like that."
There has been much chatter in Rogers and on message boards of how Ziemba is now headed to Auburn.
"I am about 50-50 right now between Arkansas and Auburn," Ziemba said. "Every day is a challenge for me trying to decide between the two. I try not to make it a big deal and I am trying to focus on my season right now. That makes it hard to make a decision. There are so many good things about each school. I am just trying to weigh everything out."
He also said that if he is not sure where he is going how could anybody else be.
"What people are saying, I don't really care about," Ziemba said. "People are going to say stuff and you can't keep them from doing that. But right now the truth is I haven't made a decision."
Ziemba did say that he understands why some might think he is going to Auburn since he has worn a certain piece of Auburn apparel during the day on Fridays under his jersey.
"I have an Auburn hoodie that I wear every Friday over my jersey to school," Ziemba said. "It's just good luck for me. I was an Auburn fan growing up because my parents went there so I had a lot of Auburn stuff. It's just lucky. It's no big deal like some might make it out to be. I wear a Arkansas shirt, a Notre Dame shirt – I've got stuff from every where I have been. I wear all sorts of stuff all the time."
Ziemba's parents Mike and Dawn Ziemba were both students at Auburn in the mid-1980s, but he says neither one is pushing him to go there as some have speculated.
"He didn't play there, just went to school there and I think graduated in 1987," Ziemba said. "She was two years behind my dad…A lot of my people talk about how my dad is trying to push me toward Auburn. That's not true. My parents just want me to do what I think is best for me. They are very supportive and have given me all the tools necessary to make a good educated choice by myself."
He will admit that if Arkansas ended up offering Rogers quarterback Cody Kirby (5-11, 180) that it certainly might play a factor.
"Cody Kirby is my best friend and I understand the height issues, but I think he is a great quarterback," Ziemba said. "He has an offer from Missouri Southern and I think one is coming soon from Arkansas State. (Arkansas offensive coordinator) Coach (Gus) Malzahn has stayed in contact with him also and says they are interested. That would definitely be something that would play into my decision."
"It was wearing on me big time back in the summer, but actually this season hasn't been too bad," Ziemba said. "I have just been kind of putting everything on the backburner and just playing Rogers football."
That has paid off as Rogers has gone 10-0 during the regular season and won the 7A-West title outright with a 41-35 win over Bentonville Friday night in double overtime.
"It's great and I have never been able to contribute to something that feels this good," Ziemba said. "It's an amazing feeling and I am real proud of our team. I believe we have had some real heart and it is just great to be at the top."
The city of Rogers has been revitalized by this season's football team per Ziemba.
"It's been fun seeing things on the marquees that say 'Go Mounties,'" Ziemba said. "It's really been like Remember the Titans. I think we have united this town a little bit. Everybody is working for a common goal. When we win, it makes everybody feel good."
Rogers needs to win three more games to claim a state championship and starts that quest Friday night when it hosts Conway.
"I actually went up to the fieldhouse and watched some film on them today," Ziemba said. "I expect their best effort so we are going to have to bring our A game in the first week of the playoffs. I have never been to a playoff game so I am not quite sure what the difference is, but I've heard that everybody raises their game up a notch. If we have a second half like we did against Bentonville, we might not be so lucky this time. We have to play a full game."
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