Simple Switch Gives Rutgers Guard Zach Venesky Offseason Momentum in Open Position Battle

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Third-year offensive lineman Zach Venesky was one of Rutgers football's fastest risers of the spring semester.

Sometimes a simple change creates the biggest payoff. Zach Venesky hopes that becomes the case after a spring move from left to right guard.

The Rutgers third-year lineman backed up Dorian Miller as a left guard last season. By week two of spring camp, Venesky took over as the starting right guard.

“It was a switch up. It really was,” Venesky said. “I'd stay after practice and get my extra work in. I really worked that to try to be the best I can possibly be at that side. It definitely was a big step up, and I still need to get better and everything. Keep working at it. I wasn't satisfied with (my spring game), but I'll get there.”

Venseky is far from locked in as the starting right guard for 2017. Coach Chris Ash spoke often about finding the right guy for the role, with other possibilities including Zack Heeman, Marcus Applefield and freshman Micah Clark.

“Competition makes everybody better,” Venseky said. “I'm ready to compete. I'm ready to earn that spot. I'm going to keep working for it.”

Venesky credits two years behind Miller as a massive step forward for development.

“Dorian is a role model, a mentor,” he said. “He helped me a lot when I was a freshman. He was down when I came in, he took me along under his wing. It definitely helped a lot. He's a quiet leader, but he's a guy who gets after it every day.”

After Venesky and Jonah Jackson spent their senior seasons 150 miles apart in Pennsylvania, they hope to debut as starts next to each other in 2017.

“Me and Jonah have always been close,” he said. “We came in in the same class. It definitely helped. We communicate really well on the line together, so I definitely like playing next to him. … I think we're one of the tightest units on the team. We always hold each other accountable. There's a very strong competition in that room. We're always getting after it and motivating each other to get better.”

For an athletic lineman, Venesky looks forward to Jerry Kill's full offensive installation.

“I think we're definitely going to throw a couple of curve balls at people and surprise them,” he said. “They're not going to be expecting what we bring to the table.”

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