Zen Michalski never thought his football career would get to this point.
The 6-foot-7, 288-pounder out of Floyd Central (Indiana) High School has only been playing football for five years, so when he got his first scholarship offer from Indiana State on February 16, 2020, he damn near jumped at the chance of joining an FCS school because, hey, at least it was a college scholarship, right?
The Michalski File
- Class: 2021
- Size: 6-foot-7/288 lbs.
- Pos: OT
- School: Floyd Central (Floyds Knobs, Indiana)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: 318 (23 OT)
“That was my first offer, and I almost went there,” Michalski told Eleven Warriors last week. “I was like, ‘Man, should I just go ahead and take the scholarship?’”
So, yes, Michalski admits, “This is gonna be a pretty big moment for me and my family.“
That was the reaction of the nation's 23rd-ranked offensive tackle when he was asked what the emotions would be like when he finally signed his national letter of intent to become a Buckeye.
After he started picking up more FBS offers throughout his junior year, he eventually committed to Louisville and had been a Cardinals commit since April. But when Michalski was offered by Greg Studrawa and Co. during the first week of September, the writing was on the wall that he would join Ohio State's 2021 recruiting class.
When he did get that offer, it was about as big of a pinch-me moment as possible for the then-three star prospect, and he's now a Buckeye after a fast rise has seen him go from novice to a Big Ten player.
“I can’t really describe it. I never really expected football to be something that would pay for my education,” Michalski said. “When I first got into it in eighth grade, I saw it as just something to do. It was fun. We never in 100 years imagined that I’d go somewhere to get college paid for. As a sophomore and junior, I wasn’t small, I was pretty tall but I was skinny. I was weird looking. A little gangly. It’s just crazy to be in this situation. I’m so happy for it, especially for my family.
“Me and my stepdad would always talk about it. I remember sophomore or junior year just talking about colleges, and he was telling me he thought I could go do that. I never really believed him, but we talked about it a lot. Now that it’s a reality, it’s just crazy, and it’s gone past everyone’s expectations.”
Michalski is coming into the Buckeyes' class as the third-lowest ranked prospect among the 21-man group (not counting punter Jesse Mirco). The term “developmental prospect” has been tossed around to describe Michalski because, well, that's exactly what he is.
And he knows it.
“Oh, yeah. I own that,” Michalski said when asked his thoughts on being called a developmental offensive lineman. “This is only my second year playing offensive line. I knew what was going on, but there’s still a lot of stuff that still has to be learned. The last few weeks of the season is when I really started practicing a two-point stance and actually kick-stepping. Our team in high school we were a 95 percent run team and 5 percent throw the ball. So it was nothing I really got to get taught by anybody. But I think I’m a really moldable player and coachable and listen to everything my coaches say.”