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Rutgers offers Zack Heeman top notch education

For most student athletes — at least to the public — it seems like they are more like athlete students, where the emphasis is placed more on their sport rather than their education. But for players like Zack Heeman on the Rutgers football team, the student definitely comes first.

“I think a lot of guys have the plan in mind to play in the NFL,” Heeman said. “Obviously everyone wants to make the NFL, but every staff that’s been here has always preached to get a degree.”

Heeman, a graduate student and offensive lineman, has already gotten one degree out of the way, graduating with a bachelor’s degree this past May, and is working on another one as he is currently enrolled in the counseling psychology program.

And although Heeman isn’t giving up on his dream of playing football in the NFL, he knows why he came to college in the first place and will squeeze all that he can of the time he has on the Banks.

“It’s a two year program so I’ll keep working on it, and then after we’ll see NFL wise, but definitely that’s why I’m here,” he said. “It’s too much of an opportunity that Rutgers gives us to play football for free and to get an education to not take full advantage of every opportunity I can get so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Outside of football, the Budd Lake, New Jersey native has been named Academic All-Big Ten in 2015 as a freshman and 2017 as a junior along with being recognized as a 2018 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar given to players with a GPA of 3.7 or higher during the academic year. 

Even beyond the classroom, Heeman continues to make his presence known, getting nominated for the 2018 AFCA Good Works Team for his distinguished accomplishments and commendable work off the field. He is one of 169 nominees.

"The student athletes who are nominated for this award not only demonstrate a unique dedication to community service and desire to make a positive impact on the lives around them, but they also show tremendous perseverance as well as the ability to overcome personal struggles and come out victorious against all odds," according to AFCA's website.

With all this praise, his teammates have taken notice as well, often asking for his advice on things such as which classes to take and how to better manage their time as the schedules of student athletes can get hectic. 

And Heeman is happy to help because even though everybody dreams of making it to the NFL, the reality is most players don’t so it’s important to know what to do during life after football. He is the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I don’t think whatever football position you are whether you’re first string, third string, kicker, special (teams), it doesn’t really matter. Everyone’s gotta get a degree and that’s what’s most important at the end of the day,” he said.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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