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Thursday, August 29, 2002
Updated: September 10, 3:16 PM ET
Diary: 'I like hitting people'

By Tom Zbikowski with Wayne Drehs
Special to ESPN.com

I like hitting people.

Tale of the tape
Tom Zbikowski
  • 6-foot-1, 190 lbs
  • 4.35 40-yard dash
  • 305 lb. Bench press
  • 27 inch vertical leap
    Week 1
  • 14-7 win vs. Conant
  • 4-17, 68 yards
  • 16 carries for 101 yards
  • 1 TD rushing (20 yards)
  • It's the reason I've always loved boxing. It's the reason I get angry when my coaches hold me out of football tackling drills.

    There's nothing better than lurking in the middle of the field, waiting for some unassuming JV receiver to cross the middle without looking both ways and just flatten him.

    It's that sound of the collision of pads hitting pads, helmets smashing into helmets that I can't wait to hear and can't wait to feel again under the lights of Friday night. The season opener -- Aug. 30 -- has been circled on my calendar since the beginning of spring.

    And now it's here.

    Let me tell you, I'm bouncing off the walls of school with excitement. My coaches have told me I'm not only going to start at quarterback, but at safety, punt returner and kick returner -- and that gets me even more fired up.

    Zbikowski's Recruiting trail
    The current Top 5
    (alphabetical order)
    Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Wisconsin

    Scheduled visits
    Dec. 6 - Notre Dame
    Playing quarterback is great. I love being the center of attention and constantly having my hands on the ball. But defense is what I enjoy most. Defense is what gets my adrenaline pumping and satisfies my itch for contact.

    Going into the season, I feel like I'm the most prepared I've ever been. All the speed camps, football camps, two-a-days and lifting sessions have really paid off. I'm over the ankle sprain I suffered late last season and feel 100 percent. My body is ready. My mind is ready. It's time to go.

    The expectations are sky high around Buffalo Grove. Most of the starters are back from last year's 10-2 team, so people are really expecting us to do well. My goals are simple: From a team point of view, I want to win a conference championship. I also want to play for the state title. We lost to the same school, Prospect, twice last year -- and they were the eventual conference and state champions. So our path will have to go through them.

    Individually, I'd like to improve in just about every facet of my game, especially my passing efficiency and decision-making. Statistically, I'd like to pass for 1,500 yards and rush for another 1,500 yards.

    As for how I spent my summer vacation, the only thing I can say is, "What vacation?" I attended seven different football camps, four speed camps, not to mention our own 7-on-7 camp and two-a-day drills.

    From the mailbag
    A handwritten letter from an assistant coach at Indiana earned top billing this week. The letter started out with the sentence, "How's it going." The only problem was that the question ended with a period. Oops.

    Weighing in
    This week's top senders were Notre Dame, Iowa and Northwestern. Each sent 10 pieces of mail.
    Just about every minute of every day was spent focusing on football. In the minutes in between, I was down in the city, trying to maintain my boxing skills.

    A few highlights from the summer included the West Coast Passing Academy in California. There, I fell asleep during some down time at the beach and absolutely scorched myself.

    At the Peyton Manning camp in Louisiana, I worked my tail off to improve my footwork and mechanics. On one drill, I slipped when coming out from under center. Peyton came over, showed me the proper way to shift my weight and it didn't happen again.

    I also visited a couple local quarterback camps, as well as the summer camps at Notre Dame, Iowa, Northwestern, Bowling Green and Nebraska. The Bowling Green camp was a blast. About 30 of my teammates joined me there.

    But that's the past. For now, my sights are set on the future. A future that begins with the opening of the season.

    ESPN.com is following quarterback/defensive back Tom Zbikowski on his journey from high school to the college ranks. Zbikowski will be writing a diary about his recruitment, and we will file regular reports on the recruiting process through Signing Day on Feb. 5, 2003.

    Send in your questions and Tom will answer a few in his next diary update.