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Zach Zenner
No. 34 – Detroit Lions
Position: Fullback
Personal information
Born: (1991-09-13) September 13, 1991 (age 26)
Eagan, Minnesota
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 221 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school: Eagan (MN)
College: South Dakota State
Undrafted: 2015
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2017
Rushing yards: 420
Rushing average: 3.5
Rushing touchdowns: 5
Receptions: 20
Receiving yards: 207
Receiving touchdowns: 0
Player stats at

Zachary Zenner, also known as Big Z, (born September 13, 1991) is an American football Fullback for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at South Dakota State.

Early years[edit]

Zenner attended Eagan High School in Eagan, Minnesota.[3] While at Eagan High School, he played for the football team. As a senior in 2009, he was a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Football Award after posting an average of 8.9 yards per carry, along with 1,181 rushing yards, 122 receiving yards, and 17 total touchdowns. He earned All-Metro Honors, and Academic All-State on several teams. In addition, Zenner was a member of the state tournament qualifying Eagan baseball team in 2009. In 2010, Zenner led the team in batting average, posting a batting average of .537. He led the team in stolen bases as well.

College career[edit]

Zenner attended South Dakota State University from 2010 to 2014. South Dakota State was the only Division I program to offer Zenner a scholarship.[4] During this time, he was a member of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits football team, wearing number 31.[5] After his redshirt year, he began to take on his role with the team, including working on returning kicks, with positive growth and success. His 2012 campaign was a breakout year, highlighted in the first game against the Kansas Jayhawks with a 99-yard touchdown run.[6][7] Zenner rushed for at least 2,000 yards during each of the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons.[8][9][10][11]

Professional career[edit]

Coming out of college, many analysts had Zenner projected to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round. He was rated as the second best fullback in the draft by[12]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP Wonderlic
5 ft 11 in
(1.80 m)
223 lb
(101 kg)
32 in
(0.81 m)
9 58 in
(0.24 m)
4.60 s 1.64 s 2.71 s 4.14 s 6.88 s 41 in
(1.04 m)
10 ft 1 in
(3.07 m)
25 reps 35
All values from NFL Combine, short shuttle from Pro Day[13][14]

After Zenner went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions.[15][16] On May 2, 2015, the Detroit Lions signed him to a three-year, $1.58 million contract with a $5,000 signing bonus.[17]

Zenner entered training camp competing for the fourth running back on the Lions' depth chart with George Winn. Zenner ultimately won the position, leading the NFL in rushing yards during the preseason, and went into the regular season as the backup behind Joique Bell, Theo Riddick, and Ameer Abdullah.[18][19]

Zenner made his professional regular season debut in the Lions' season opener at the San Diego Chargers, finishing with two carries for six rushing yards.[20] On October 5, 2015, he carried the ball twice for nine yards and made his first career reception on a four-yard pass from Matt Stafford during a 10-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.[21] The following week, Zenner earned his first career start and had a season-high ten carries for 30 rushing yards against the Arizona Cardinals.[22] On October 18, 2015, Zenner had three rushing attempts for nine rushing yards during a 34-37 overtime victory over the Chicago Bears.[23][24] He left during the game after he suffered an apparent injury to his chest. It was later revealed he had suffered multiple fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.[25] On October 30, 2015, the Detroit Lions placed him on injured-reserve for the remainder of his rookie season.[26]

During the 2016 training camp, Zenner competed for the third backup running back position with rookie Dwayne Washington. He was named the fourth running back on the depth chart to begin the season, behind Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, and Dwayne Washington.[18] He was inactive for the first two games of the season but was activated for Week 3, after Abudllah suffered a fracture to his foot. During the Lions' Week 4 divisional matchup against the Chicago Bears, Zenner had three carries for 12 rushing yards and one 22-yard reception in the 14-17 loss.[27] On October 16, 2016, he earned his first start of the season and finished with a career-high 14 rushing attempts for 58 rushing yards and caught two passes for 14 receiving yards during a 31-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.[28] The following week, he ran for 29 rushing yards on nine carries and scored his first career touchdown on a one-yard run in the third quarter of a 20-17 win against the Washington Redskins.[29] On December 26, 2016, in a Monday Night Football game, Zenner had 12 carries for 67 rushing yards and a career-high two rushing touchdowns in the first half of the Lions' 21-42 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.[30] Although he found success in the first half, he did not receive any carries for the rest of the game.[23] He was the only running back to carry the ball for the Lions in the next two games, scoring a touchdown in a home game against the Packers to end the regular season.[31]

In a limited role in the 2017 season, Zenner had 14 carries for 26 yards and a rushing touchdown.[32]

On March 16, 2018, Zenner re-signed with the Lions.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Zenner was married in 2016. Zenner is a Christian. After scoring 30 on the MCAT, he was admitted the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, but deferred entry to play in the NFL. While on injured reserve, Zenner researched the effects of fructose on hypertension at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.[34]


  1. ^ "Capital One Academic All-America® D1 Football Team Selected" (Press release). College Sports Information Directors of America. December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Top college athletes to be honored by NCAA" (Press release). NCAA. November 12, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Takasaki: Off the football field, Zach Zenner likes to fish and help people". Argus Leader. Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  4. ^ Pasche, Paula (May 10, 2015). "Detroit Lions — Zach Zenner runs without a chip on his shoulder". The Oakland Press. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  5. ^ "Zach Zenner NCAA FB Stats". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  6. ^ Marlowe Alter (May 7, 2015). "Film review: Zenner could be undrafted steal for Lions". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ "South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. Kansas Jayhawks - Box Score - September 1, 2012". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  8. ^ Justin Rogers (May 7, 2015). "RB Zach Zenner has the makings of Detroit Lions' next undrafted fan favorite". M Live Media Group. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Zach Zenner 2012 NCAA FB Game Log". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  10. ^ "Zach Zenner 2013 NCAA FB Game Log". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  11. ^ "Zach Zenner 2014 NCAA FB Game Log". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  12. ^ "Zach Zenner, DS #2 FB, South Dakota State: 2015 NFL Draft". Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  13. ^ "2015 NFL Draft Profile: Zach Zenner". 
  14. ^ "Zach Zenner - South Dakota State, FB : 2015 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile". 
  15. ^ Matt Zimmer (July 21, 2015). "Zach Zenner getting adjusted to life in the NFL". Argus Leader. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  16. ^ "NDSU And SDSU Standouts Getting A Shot In The NFL [VIDEO]". CBS Detroit. May 4, 2015. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  17. ^ " Zach Zenner contract". Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b " Detroit Lion's Depth Chart". Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  19. ^ "2015 Detroit Lions Statistics & Players". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  20. ^ "Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers - September 13th, 2015". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  21. ^ "Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks - October 5th, 2015". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  22. ^ "Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions - October 11th, 2015". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  23. ^ a b "NFL Player Profile: Zach Zenner". Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions - October 18th, 2015". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  25. ^ Kyle Meinke (October 19, 2015). "Lion's Zach Zenner out for season; hospitalized with collapsed lung; cracked ribs". Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  26. ^ Michael Rothstein (October 21, 2015). "Zach Zenner recovering from injuries at home after going on Lion's IR". Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears - October 2nd, 2016". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  28. ^ "Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions - October 16th, 2016". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  29. ^ "Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions - October 23rd, 2016". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  30. ^ "Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys - December 26th, 2016". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  31. ^ "Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions - January 1st, 2017". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  32. ^ "Zach Zenner 2017 Game Log". Retrieved 2018-04-01. 
  33. ^ "Lions re-sign Zenner". March 16, 2018. 
  34. ^ Katzenstein, Josh (2016-05-25). "Lions running back Zenner hits lab to prep for medical career". The Detroit News. Retrieved January 9, 2017. 

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