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Senior Tributes: Michael Zordich

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Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

The first time I saw Michael Zordich in the blue and white was during the second half of the 2009 Blue/White Game. It didn't take long to notice that Zordich had a nose for the ball, as he found himself at the point of impact play after play. He was somewhat buried on the depth chart behind future NFL stars Sean Lee and Navarro Bowman among others, but it seemed Zordich was destined to be the next big name to come out Linebacker U.

The next season found Zordich unceremoniously moved to fullback, thanks to depth at the linebacker position that would be the envy of any program in the nation. However, Zordich quickly became a vocal leader on a young team that desperately needed someone in that role. Who could forget his one-yard plunge into the end zone when Temple had Penn State on the ropes in 2010? His exuberance after the play was the first time that season that it looked like someone on Penn State was relaxed enough to have fun out on the field. Or the bone-crunching hit early in the 2011 season opener against Indiana State? It set the tone for the season for a hard-hitting group that found a way to eek out a victory when all appeared to be lost.

The 2012 season will go down as the crown jewel in Zordich's Penn State career. His bulldozing blocking helped pave the way for Zach Zwinak's improbable 1,000-yard season. His sometimes inconsistent hands seemingly turned to gold, always finding ways to make key plays with brutal running and catching passes out of the backfield, turning them into unexpected big gains thanks to his deceptive speed. The unparalleled leadership he displayed during a wretched set of circumstances was nothing short of amazing, and he may have been the only player in the nation capable of providing that type of leadership with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Zordich was not an All-American, not will he be a first round draft pick. But Zordich will always stand tall as a legend in Penn State lore, right there with other names like Engram, Posluszny and Blackledge. In a year when Penn State was reprimanded for it's "culture," Zordich stood for everything right and pure about college athletics- developing into a top-notch leader, acting unselfishly to help build something larger than yourself, and displaying passion for the university you call home.

Thank you, Michael.