Bearcat Fans, Meet Zach Collaros

As Brian Kelly searches for a starting quarterback to run his spread offense next season and into the future, Steubenville High School's Zach Collaros has thrown his hat into the ring after officially signing his letter-of-intent on Wednesday to attend the University of Cincinnati. Bearcat Insider spoke to Zach about a variety of topics including how he became a Bearcat.

Zach Collaros excels at virtually everything he does. After playing receiver his sophomore year at Steubenville High School, Zach returned to his natural position of quarterback the following season helping the Big Red win its next 30 games and two Ohio Division III state championships. As a quarterback during that unbeaten streak, Zach completed 65% of his passes while throwing for 55 touchdowns and being intercepted only 9 times. Collaros also used his legs to pick up 1,309 yards and 25 more TD‘s. Zach is a threat to score any time he's on the field, including when he's playing defensive back. The 6' 1"/190 pounder had 14 interceptions returning 6 for touchdowns and recovered 5 fumbles returning 2 for scores. The media certainly noticed his outstanding performances by naming Zach the Division III Co-Player of the Year, and he was a finalist for Ohio's coveted Mr. Football award.

Despite the gaudy statistics and impressive awards, Zach had only one Division IA football scholarship offer (Kent State) until Cincinnati entered the picture in early January. He explained how the Bearcats got involved. "I got a phone call from Coach Kelly one day after basketball practice, and he said they were really interested after seeing my tapes. The next day he said he was going to come here, and he offered me. I went down for a visit, and I loved it so I decided to go to Cincinnati." Zach cited the chance to play in the Big East conference as a major reason for choosing the Bearcats.

Although very skilled on both sides of the ball, Zach loves quarterback and hopes to remain a signal caller at Cincinnati. "I prefer playing quarterback. Coach Kelly told me they'd let me play quarterback, and I'd have every opportunity there. But Coach Tresey (defensive coordinator) said they'd love to have me on the defensive side of the ball." Collaros said he runs a 4.6 forty yard dash.

Zach said Steubenville ran some "I formations" last season but also used a lot of four wideout formations which would be more similar to Coach Kelly's offense.

Collaros is truly an athlete. He also plays basketball and baseball for the Big Red. Zach scored 34 points Tuesday night in a Steubenville victory over its city rival Catholic Central. With that effort, Collaros took over 7th place on the all-time Steubenville scoring list with 1,007 points. Despite being only 6' 1", Zach also shows his versatility on the basketball floor for the 12-5 Big Red. "I lead the team in almost everything, including rebounding." Zach plays the point on offense but guards the other team's center on defense. "I'm the strongest kid so I have to guard the biggest guy from the other team. We're not a big team." Zach said his scoring average is down a bit this year to 17 or 18 points a game. Last year he averaged 22 points a contest.

Steubenville is a football town, and despite playing a sport in every season, Zach lifts weights every day. "There's no option. You have to lift weights for football. In our school football is the main thing. We have weigh training for a class. My strength and conditioning coach takes me through every day." Zach benched 305 pounds recently for a personal best.

During baseball season, Zach plays shortstop and estimated a .395 batting average last year, but he's not planning to play baseball in college. "I want to play one sport and have fun. I want to try and be a quarterback at Cincinnati so I'm going to concentrate on that and my school work." Bear in mind that Zach had more college scholarship offers for baseball than for football and thinks that may have hurt his gridiron recruitment. "I had a lot of baseball offers on the table, and I think a lot of the bigger schools thought I wanted to play two sports in college." West Virginia, Kent State, Youngstown State, and Ohio University all offered baseball scholarships. Marshall even offered a full scholarship for baseball, which is very unusual. Most college baseball scholarships are only partial scholarships.

Like so many of the others in Cincinnati's class of 2007, Zach is a fine student boasting a 3.3 GPA and scoring a 21 on his only attempt at the ACT. Zach hasn't yet decided on a major but is considering physical therapy or accounting.

Zach was also the 2006 recipient of the Art Teynor Award which is given by the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association to the outstanding football player in Ohio. Some noteworthy past winners include Ted Ginn Jr. in 2003, Ben Mauk in 2002 and Ben Roethlisberger in 1999.

Some players shy away from schools that recruit multiple players at their position, but that is not Zach's thought process even though the Bearcats brought in Chazz Anderson (QB) the Division II Offensive Player of the Year. "I'm confident. I just want a chance to compete. That's all anyone can really ask for."

Zach was unsure whether UC would redshirt him next year, but this is young man so athletic that he is not used to sitting and watching in anything. It's a good bet Zach will find his way onto the field early in his career. The bigger question is where he'll line up as a Bearcat.

Bearcat fans can get a sneak preview of Zach since he'll be playing for the Ohio team on June16th in the Big 33 game.

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