Zalewski excited for Shrine Game

After you complete your collegiate career, you always hope to play at the next level. Some players have a ticket already punched on the NFL flight. While others, such as Wisconsin linebacker Mark Zalewski, are still hoping to make people take notice. Badger Nation's Jason Miller caught up with the heart and soul of the 2006 defensive unit.

Don Shula is recognized as one of, if not the, best coach(es) in the history of the National Football League. He has since retired from the "league". However, Shula was asked, along with former Denver Bronco and Atlanta Falcon head man Dan Reeves, to wear the whistle one more time.

And Mark Zalewski is pretty excited to be around for this rare occasion.

The outgoing, never shy Wisconsin 'mike' linebacker finds this week as a dual honor.

"Don Shula is a great coach, one of the best ever." the honorable mention All-Big Ten linebacker states. "It is neat to just hear him talk and tell stories. I mean, he is one of the legends of this game. My family and friends are pretty 'wow-ed' by it."

Zalewski hopes to 'Wow' the NFL scouts that are in attendance who may have never seen him play in person, or on film.

"If people have not see me play I want to come and impress them." Mark proclaims. "They (scouts) may not have seen me on film, either. So this is my chance to show a thing or two. We also have are Draft Day back at home, too."

If he wants to impress the scouts, he says that it is going to take some getting used to. Getting used to a defensive scheme that he has never played before. Getting used to playing in front of people who might control your future. And, to be honest, just getting used to playing again.

"It is kind of hard to get used to having pads on again." he said. "To get the pads on and hit again is fun, but not easy. Guys are getting used to hit again and it takes a while to get in the flow. But not that long once you hear the crack (of the pads)."

Not only is this week a chance to shine for the scouts, and a national audience on television, it is chance to be a star for the lives of children who do not always get into the light of day.

"On Sunday, we visited the Shriners hospital here in Houston." Zalewski expressed graciously. "We had the chance to play with the kids who were there."

When you are helping your team to the best record in the storied history of the football program, you usually are not thinking about life outside of the 'bubble'. You forget that not everyone is in as good a place in the world as you.

"To see the looks on some of those kids' faces was pretty humbling." Zalewski states. "They look up to as celebrities, pretty much. We played football with them and bingo. To see how they look up to us boosted my spirit. We do not see things like that every day."

Zalewski is going to take the experience one day and one play at a time.

"This is an honor that I am pretty proud of." the Badger standout states. "To just be here means that I have done some things right and been taught the right things. I am just excited to be here."

BadgerNation will catch up with Mark after the game takes place this weekend.

It will televised live on ESPN2 at 6:00 pm on Saturday, January 20. The game is to be played at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

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