Zellner Valuable to Team

UM tight end Chris Zellner discusses his progress in becoming the H-Back in 2006.

Sophomore tight end Chris Zellner is the leading candidate to be UM's H-Back this season. Zellner has good blocking skills, hands, and the right attitude to be a quality H-Back for Miami.

"Right now, I am putting an emphasis on blocking," Zellner said. "I want to run sharp routes, which allow other receivers to get open and block and make holes for the receivers.

"I take a lot of pride in what I do. Not everybody wants to go face a linebacker or hit a defensive end. To me it is just about being on the field and I am happy to be here and I am going to do all that I can to help us win."

Zellner says that Offensive Coordinator Rich Olson's offense has not been hard to learn.

"It has actually been pretty easy. I have made a mistake here and there, but it is so easy that I can correct it."

Zellner lines up everyday in practice with one of the best tight ends in the country. By watching Olsen, Zellner knows what level he needs to take his game to in order to become a great tight end.

"Greg brings everything to the table," Zellner said. "He can catch, block, and run. It is an honor to play with him. He is the next great tight end at the U, so it is an honor."

Zellner arrived at UM as a defensive end in 2004, but was moved to tight end during the spring of 2005 due to injuries.

"I think I have improved a lot," Zellner said. "I came in here as a defensive end and I got moved over to tight end. It was a hard adjustment, but after a while it got pretty easy and I feel like I really upped my game and I still have a lot to improve on."

Zellner has been playing the past few fall practices with a cast on his hand. He doesn't expect to wear the cast for much longer

"My hand is coming along ok," Zellner said. "I am keeping the cast on it for just a little while longer—probably until the end of this week. It has kind of sucked because I can't catch that well, but this thing won't be on September 4th."

Zellner is joined by two of his high school teammates from Sarasota Booker—Baraka Atkins and Sam Shields. All three Booker alums could contribute significantly for UM in 2006.

"It is awesome to play with Baraka and see Sam Shields doing what he is doing," Zellner said. "It just shows that Sarasota has some great players. It is awesome playing with them.

"We are pretty well connected because we all played with each other. Sam didn't play football much with Baraka, but he grew up in his neighborhood. I played with both of them, so I know both of them pretty well."

Zellner is excited for the 2006 season because it will be his first season in which he receives significant playing time. He is already eager for the FSU game.

"I seriously can't sleep," Zellner said. "It is my first time starting on a national televised game against Florida State. Everybody is watching, so I am a little nervous, but I am so excited."

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

Canes Time Top Stories