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« Penguin Insider

Five minutes with Zach Larson

By Joe Scalzo (Contact)


Published August 11, 2011

Andrew Radakovich is 6-foot-6, 325 pounds. A former Penn State recruit, he's generally considered Youngstown State's best lineman. He's also known for his sense of humor and his prodigious eating ability.

At some point this summer, Radakovich decided to let his hair grow out into what looks like a fifth grade girl's perm.

This, I decided, needed addressed.

So, I turned to sophomore guard Zach Larson, who is 6-3, 310 and is best known for doing spot-on imitations of half of YSU's coaching staff.

Larson appeared in just two games last year but led the team in interview requests. 

All of them came from me. 

All of them were turned down.

Since this is my first YSU blog posting, it's imperative that I immediately set the proper tone (i.e. uninformative and self-serving). 

So, let's travel back a few days to YSU's "Meet the Team" session, where Penguins coach Eric Wolford teased Larson about his double chin ("You've seen those turkey necks, right?") and Larson teased the rest of the team about everything else.

Including Radakovich's hair.

ME: What's up with that hair?

LARSON: Radak's acting like a little girl. He thinks he's going to get his hair braided. I don't really know what he's doing with that. I tell him every day to cut it.

ME: He just mumbled something and walked away.

LARSON: He knows we're talking about him. 

ME: So who has the best hair on the team?

LARSON: My man over here on my right, [freshman DT] Eric Myers, sitting there with his red hair. And we joke around with [sophomore LB Thomas] Sprague. His nickname now is "Sunshine" from Remember the Titans. He lets the girls in the dorm play with his hair and braid it and put it in a ponytail.

ME: Does Zach Conlan have the best freshman beard?

LARSON: Without a doubt. That's the most hair he has on his whole body. He said he never keeps his hair above an eighth of an inch on the top of his head. That thing's shaped pretty nice. And that's definitely an impressive beard. This is a few weeks right here. [Larson points to his face.] So I definitely don't grow facial hair. I just grow peach fuzz.

ME: At least you can admit it.

LARSON: It's my job. I got to keep the mood light on the team.

ME: Who's impressed you so far?

LARSON: I just know the linemen. Conlan had a pretty good summer. [Eric] Franklin, he passed all his conditioning tests after sitting out a whole year and coming back in. I'm pretty impressed. The linemen had a pretty good summer.

ME: And you look better.

LARSON: They told me to get stronger. They said the only thing I needed to work on was my strength. [Strength coach Mike] Cochran did an unbelievable job. My totals jumped up, some over 100 pounds. There was only one or two linemen that didn't power clean 300 [pounds], which for a group is really good.

We just pushed each other all summer. Cochran's first day, he was slapping people around but he really is a good guy. I really look forward to working out. I used to hate lifting and now he gave me a whole new perspective. Now I love it. When I'm done, I feel great and I just feel better about my body. It's the same body weight and I just put on a lot of muscle and lost a lot in other places.

ME: You're a lineman. How could you hate lifting?

LARSON: Working out was never really my strong point. I'd rather be inside somewhere, the couch or the pool. This summer was huge for us. If you compare the shape of our bodies from last year to this year, it's seriously a 360-degree turn.

ME: 180.

LARSON: Yeah, 180.

ME: So who's got the better body, you or [former Mooney/current Ohio State lineman] John Simon?

LARSON: I might have to give it to him. He's got me by the slightest percentage. 

That dude is a monster. All the stuff he gets, the preseason accolades, he deserves every bit of it. That dude just busts his butt and it's a testament to him. My dad talks to his dad and he said the coaches said they spend so much in electricity on him. He'll come early and keeps the lights on all day in the weight room and training facilities. They have to tell him to leave.

ME: Yeah, but you're a lot funnier.

LARSON: He's a little dry but he's a really good guy. It was good playing with him. He kind of reminds me of Spike from "Little Giants."

ME: Never seen it.

LARSON: It's a classic. You've got to get on it.


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