Published Monday, August 26, 2013 at 9:36 pm / Updated at 9:45 pm
Q&A with Husker fullback C.J. Zimmerer

The senior fullback from Omaha Gross is the elder statesman among the backs and has emerged as a leader on the Husker offense. The two-time Academic All-Big Ten pick graduated last December with a degree in criminology and criminal justice.

Q: What’s the feeling like every year when you reach the end of fall camp and hit game week?

A: You still know you have to still practice, you still got to work hard, but it’s kind of just a different state of mind. I’m not going out and beating on my own teammates anymore … I’m getting ready for Wyoming. And it’s kind of refreshing. You get to watch someone on film, other than just practice clips, and you actually get to focus on a game plan.

Q: At any point this August has it dawned on you that this is your last time around with everything?

A: It seems to come up in a lot of conversations that I have, just how fast things have gone. I’m real close with a lot of guys from my class — I live with three of them — and it’s going to be a lot of fun seeing how we all take it onto the field this year as a tight-knit group.

Q: When did you become comfortable with some of the leadership roles that you’ve assumed?

A: You’ve learned as other guys have done it, as you’ve grown up, and you take bits and pieces from each guy. You know, “What did this guy do good? What did that guy do good?” And you form your own type of leadership. My role, I know, is in the running backs room as the oldest guy in there. I’m not as vocal as the captains might be, but it’s kind of behind-the-scenes type of leadership for me, on a smaller scale.

Q: How well do guys know this offense compared to maybe how it was the first year when Tim Beck took over in 2011?

A: We’re running stuff (in camp) that we haven’t even installed yet, because we’ve been there in spring ball, we’ve been there last year. It just makes things a lot smoother, then you incorporate the young guys and once they know everybody’s clicking and it’s a lot of fun.

Q: Would it be fun to be Tim Beck because of all the pieces at your disposal or would it be hard because you’ve got to try to keep a lot of guys happy?

A: I think it’d be a little bit of both. Definitely a lot of fun, because it’s almost like a video game with: “Who am I going to throw it to this time? Who’s going to run the ball here?” But it would be a little bit of pressure to get guys more carries or catches, but that’s what’s great about our team is we don’t have any guys that are like that.

Q: On that topic, can you ballpark the fullback participation for this season as far as how often you guys are out there or any potential for carries or catches?

A: Nah, you just never know. It’s week-to-week. It’s drive-to-drive even. Penn State last year we ran the fullback almost the whole game, so it just depends on what’s working that game and what the defense is giving us, and Coach Beck is great with that. If we’re hitting them with four wideouts and it’s working, why switch from that?

Contact the writer: Rich Kaipust    |   402-444-1042    |  

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and some general assignment tasks, including the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

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