Next up in our offseason recruiting season series is Hunter Zenzen, a 6’3, 215 pound outside linebacker from Barnesville, Minnesota. Zenzen flew under the radar, as the only offers he got were from North Dakota, North Dakota State, and South Dakota.
Nonetheless, Zenzen is one of three linebackers in the 2020 class, joining Cole Pedersen, who I looked at a few weeks back, and Ar’Quel Smith. He’s also accompanied by two fellow Minnesotans, Aidan Bouman and Craig McDonald.
For this scouting report, I’m not going to be repetitive. Zenzen is extremely similar to the prototype of linebackers that Matt Campbell recruits. That stereotype is strong, ball hawk, decent in pass coverage, and room to grow physically.
When it comes to the amount of film, Zenzen is lacking, so I don’t have enough access to give a full scouting report, but I will do my best.
*all highlights courtesy of hudl.com
The two most important areas as a linebacker are power and timing. First, Zenzen starts this play off by shedding a blocker and puts himself in the right gap to make a play on the ballcarrier. Once he’s in the right position, he caps it off by getting low and powering through the running back to complete the tackle.
As soon as he gets to the big leagues, keeping the fundamentals of getting lower and driving will be important once the running backs get stronger and more elusive. As we all know, Iowa State defenders finishing tackles can be a big problem.
This is a straight up blitz where Zenzen goes mostly untouched before being completely in pursuit of the quarterback. There is nothing special about this play but it highlights some pretty elite speed that allows him to sack the quarterback.
Sort of like I talked about on the last highlight, Iowa State has no problem getting pressure on the quarterback, but last season they struggled at finishing the play. Zenzen was fortunate enough that the quarterback really had no where to go, capitalizing on it. Some of the athleticism that makes him versatile is on display here, but I’ll touch on that below.
The biggest thing that I have found in a 3-4 defense, linebackers that can make it to the sideline consistently are very valuable. The best example of this would be Mike Rose, a player that is well known for being a ball-hawk. Rose consistency flies all over the field and it pays off.
For this assignment, Zenzen read the play right from the start and was in pursuit of the receiver before he caught the ball. I didn’t see much of this on Zenzen’s film, but this is the type of ball-hawk play I want to see.
The biggest red flag I’ve seen in Zenzen’s game is his tendency to hit high way too often. Here, he plays to assignment nearly perfect and shoots the gap with perfect timing, but he ends up hitting the ballcarrier near the shoulder pads. He managed to make the tackle, so credit to him, but if this is Chuba Hubbard, he’s in the end zone.
Jake Hummel- One of the most solid and consistent reserves that Iowa State has. He does everything well, but nothing stands out. Zenzen reminds me of Hummel because they are both very traditional linebackers that can be versatile when they need to be, but they aren’t versatile enough to be on the field for every snap.
Zenzen is a very solid player who will have a chance at some special teams reps as a freshman. I’m not sure if he’s a good enough athlete to be a starter during his career, but he has the instincts and the strength to compete for a position.