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Zach Sudfeld Shows Pluck On, Off the Field

Posted Jul 31, 2014

TE Muscles Up for Year 2 as a Jet, Serenades Dorm Mates on Ukulele After Hours

It was D-Day out there again at Jets training camp today. The defense dominated the SUNY Cortland fields for a second straight day with all four quarterbacks getting picked off at least once. But as far as tight end Zach Sudfeld sees it, that’s only good news for the Jets offense.

“I mean, it’s one of the best defenses in the league, so anytime you’re going up against the best you’re going to get better,” he said. “And there are times, I’ll admit, they get me pretty good, especially the D-line. We have a phenomenal D-line, but just continuing to improve and play against some of those guys, you know that you are getting better.”

Practice was also noticeably more aggressive today. Sudfeld, who never lost composure, has a simple explanation for the guys being a little extra scrappy.

“It’s just part of camp, you know, it’s part of putting the pads on and hitting the same guys every day, day in and day out," he said. "It will be nice once we get into the preseason and start hitting other people, but that’s just about the way it goes.”

The scuffles on the field don’t seem to be affecting the camaraderie forming between the guys in the dorms. Sudfeld is enjoying his first training camp with the Jets after arriving on waivers last season from the Patriots.

“I haven’t been back to the dorms since I was a freshman in college, but it’s cool," he said. "I got my ukulele and my guitar, we got video games. We’re just having a good time.”

Yes, that’s right. Off the field the 6’7”, 260-pounder, affectionately nicknamed Sasquatch by head coach Rex Ryan, is just a lean, mean, ukulele-playing machine.

“I just play typical ukulele songs like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and [Randy Newman’s] ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me.’ That’s been the winner of this camp so far. People seem to enjoy that one." Then he clarified: "Well, I guess technically I’m serenading my roommate [TE Colin Anderson]. I don’t think he wants it. I try to keep the noise level down.”

The lighthearted and jovial Sudfeld quickly switched gears when talking about his purpose on the field.

“I think especially at this level, you have to really try to focus on being better at every little thing you do, the details,” the Nevada alumnus said. “Our tight ends coach [Steve Hagen] just reiterates, 'The details make you dangerous,’ and I found that to be so true in my short stint in the NFL so far. It’s the little things, footwork, hand placement, just the tiniest details are really what make the difference in a play."

Zach’s attention to detail could mean big things on the field for the Jets. In his rookie year he recorded 233 plays, including a beauty of a 25-yard reception from Josh Cribbs to set up the game-winning field goal against the Saints.

“He's earning it,” Ryan said of Sudfeld’s extra playing time at camp the last couple of practices. “He’s really developed, he's studying like nobody’s business, learning how to run routes, great hands, great athlete, multisport athlete. He never really trained for football specifically till this last season. I’ll say this about him: He was there every single day in the offseason, every single day. He wanted to change his body, get stronger, and he has.”

You can expect big things out of the big man, as it’s clear that Sudfeld is really coming into his own this year.

“I definitely feel more comfortable with the playbook this camp. You know, last year I just kind of got in here and was learning on the fly,” he said. “And so it’s nice when you’re able to play fast, you’re able to know what’s going on because of your knowledge of the playbook and kind of being able to speak Jet language.”

But Sudfeld is so much more that just a football player with a uke. He took two trips to Africa with his twin brother this past offseason through a humanitarian organization his grandfather set up.

“It’s something that I feel so fortunate to have been able to do and I can’t wait to go back next year. It’s really just a life-changing event every time I go," he said. "For me, not for any of the kids. They could care less. They don’t know who I am, but it’s a lot of fun to go out there and just see the expression on their faces. I turned into a jungle gym at one point. They were jumping all over me.”

To see pictures of the human jungle gym in action, check out Sudfeld's Website.





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