Player Spotlight: Anthony Zettel
When talking about the success behind Penn State’s defense this season, defensive tackle Anthony Zettel is a key player that never fails to go unnoticed. Standing at 6’4”, weighing 284-pounds and wearing No. 98, Zettel has proved to opponents that he is a force to be reckoned with.
Week Four of the season proved to be a difficult time for the senior as he received word that his father, Terry Zettel, had lost his battle to cancer at the young age of 46. This news came at a tough time for Zettel as he was notified of his father’s passing the day before the Nittany Lions prepared to take on San Diego State at home.
The question on many people’s minds was whether or not the defensive tackle would participate in the game after receiving such devastating news, but Zettel knew he was going to play in the game not only for himself, but his father as well.
“I think me not playing that game was not even a question, you know, I’m playing that game no matter what, for him and for my career, too. That’s what he would want me to do,” Zettel stated at a recent press conference.
Zettel emerged stronger than ever in the game, finishing with a team and career high seven tackles as well as two and a half tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Despite hearing the news about his father’s passing less than 24 hours earlier, Zettel still emerged as a key leader on defense for Penn State and was a crucial factor behind the Nittany Lions’ 37-21 victory over the Aztecs.
Due to his incredible performance, Zettel received the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week (along with Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun) as well as the Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award for his display of strength and courage when faced with hardship.
This Saturday’s homecoming game against the Indiana Hoosiers not only marks the halfway point of the regular season, but the halfway point of Zettel’s final season at Penn State.
Zettel reflected back on his time spent playing at Beaver Stadium stating, “It's amazing I played at this place for this long. I have a lot to play for.”
Set to graduate in December, Zettel is currently majoring in Kinesiology and hopes to pursue a career either as a strength and conditioning coach or a chiropractor.
Regarding the loss of his father, Zettel stated, “I know he is always with me when I take the field,” showing that Zettel will continue to keep the memory of his father alive throughout his senior season as he steps onto the field every game ready to fight and persevere.
Ellie French is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.