Each week we will feature a college football player who is either a member or an officer in a Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.
Name: C.J. Zimmerer
College: University of Nebraska
Height, weight, class, position: 6-0, 230 pounds, junior, fullback
High School: Gross HS, Omaha, Nebraska
About C.J. Zimmerer: A redshirt junior, the former high school two-way standout at fullback and linebacker spent his first two years on special teams for the Cornhuskers. This season he’s become the No. 1 option at fullback, registering his first official carry as a Husker against Southern Mississippi. A member of the Academic All-Big Ten team in 2011, Zimmerer is president of the Uplifting Athletes Nebraska Chapter formed earlier this year.
As a player, what is your favorite part of game day you get to experience at your home stadium?
Zimmerer: We have a lot of great things going on during game days at Nebraska, but as a player I really love the bus ride over from the hotel which leads to our teams Unity Walk into the Stadium. It’s awesome seeing all of the fans scattered across the entire city tailgating and showing their support for us. The crowds get bigger and bigger as we get closer to Memorial Stadium and once we arrive the marching band is waiting to lead us to the front door of the stadium. The fight song is playing in the background and it is awesome to see some of our fans up close and finally kick off GAMETIME!
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
Zimmerer: My most memorable experience thus far as a player would probably have to be making it to two BIG 12 Championship games. Even though we lost it was a great experience having an entire state behind us as we traveled down to Dallas for the games. I also will never forget my first tunnel walk in Memorial Stadium. Many people, including myself, rank this pregame ritual on the top of the charts in the nation and it didn’t let me down. I had goosebumps like you can’t imagine…Nothing like running out in front of the Sea of Red.
What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what if anything has this experience done for you?
Zimmerer: Uplifting Athletes was a no brainer for my teammates and I. Our community gives so much love and support to us 365 days a year and we really wanted to jump on a chance to help out as many of them as we could, not to mention thousands more on a national level. We have a great opportunity with the spotlight we get as players to really make a difference and get the word out about our rare diseases, and to let people know that everything you do can make an impact in some way.
Facebook, Twitter or neither and why?
Zimmerer: I had Facebook for a while but I got bored with it after a year or so! As of now, I am still Facebook and Twitter free! I think people waste way to much time on those sites, time that I would rather spend doing something else. It can be useful in some cases, but as for me…no thanks!
What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?
Zimmerer: The Big Ten is tough every week. I don’t think I could pick one single team that is harder than the other because each week and each team brings a different challenge for my team and I. Whether they have a great defense, offense, or especially special special team units every week is a grind.
What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?
Zimmerer: I am a criminal justice major, with a tie into education. It took me a while to pick a major but I feel like I finally chose the right path. Being able to help people and serve is a big motivation for me in this field, whether it is in law enforcement or another sector of criminal justice there are a lot of good opportunities to help people in some way. I think this is one of the reasons I am so interested in Uplifting Athletes. I really enjoy trying to help people. I have taken some courses in administration, and I have seen those pay off for me in our chapter already. Being able to plan meetings, events, and fundraisers is more complicated than I thought but luckily I have a little bit of education in those areas.
Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?
Zimmerer: There are tons of athletes out there that I really enjoy watching but recently I have really been drawn to Penn State’s Mike Mauti. He plays with so much passion and has been a dynamic leader for his team. I think any team would be really lucky to have a guy like that on their team.
Who is your favorite NFL player and why?
Zimmerer: I don’t follow the NFL too closely but if I had to pick one player as my favorite it would probably be Danny Woodhead. You have to love an underdog story like his. He wasn’t given much of a shot coming out of college and he has become a very successful player for the Patriots. He is extremely explosive and is capable of making a big play at any time.
What was or is the inspiration for the Rare Disease your Uplifting Athletes Chapter is raising money for to be part of the fight?
Zimmerer: When Rex Burkhead got involved with Jack Hoffman and the “Team Jack” cause last year it caught the attention of myself and many of my teammate. To see how one person could impact a family’s life so much it was a no brainer for our team to get involved with Uplifting Athletes. If one person could make a difference, a group of 50 like we have involved with Uplifting Athletes could make a major impact of thousandsof young kids like Jack Hoffman. Pediatric brain cancer is a major killer of so many young kids that anything we can do to help them out is huge.
What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?
Zimmerer: Being new to the Big Ten this season I haven’t had the chance to play in all of the great venues the conference has to offer but each road game thus far has been a cool experience. Each school does something a little different and I don’t think I could pick one particular place that I really love to play other than good ole Memorial stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska!