Michigan native Anthony Zettel was one of Joe Paterno’s final recruits to don a Penn State uniform, the second highest rated recruit in the legendary coach’s final recruiting class, in 2011. The then-defensive end redshirted his first year in Happy Valley, before becoming a spark as a backup under then-coach Bill O’Brien.
It wasn’t until James Franklin and then-defensive coordinator Bob Shoop came into town that Zettel was shifted to the position in which he would have a much bigger impact - Defensive Tackle.
The change wasn’t met without its detractors; this blogger, for example, wasn’t sure how the comparatively undersized Zettel would fare on the interior of the line. Oh, me of little faith; all Zettel did as a redshirt junior in 2014 was make the All-Big Ten first team, and become a fourth-team All American.
Alongside fellow tackle Austin Johnson, Zettel was no longer an unknown commodity in 2015, as opposing offensive coordinators double teamed him and his stats suffered as a result. His play, however, did not, and the drawing of attention Zettel’s way allowed for fellow lineman Carl Nassib to have a breakout year and eventually claim the Big Ten lineman of the year award.
Zettel left Penn State in the top ten for both sacks and tackles for loss in the program’s history, and was drafted in the sixth round (202nd overall) by the Detroit Lions, where he’s played ever since. Zettel started off slow his rookie season, but made an impact in his second year in the league for the Lions, starting all sixteen games and logging 43 tackles (31 solo), including 6.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
Of course, nothing Zettel does will be quite as impressive as this:
Thankfully, Penn State fans from the last three years, as well as Giants fans and all fans of great football, didn’t have to worry as Zettel narrowly missed hitting a then-almost-unknown running back in the head with the water bottle (and did this just a few months after taking out a nefarious tree). Oh, Anthony.