Alumni Hurd Awaits Fate in NFL Draft

WHS+and+UConn+alumni+Zach+Hurd+talks+with+current+WHS+students+about+college%2C+football%2C+and+tattoos.

WHS and UConn alumni Zach Hurd talks with current WHS students about college, football, and tattoos.

Staff Reports

The recent decision to lift the NFL block has opened up the future for Waterford and University of Connecticut alum Zach Hurd this weekend.

At 8PM tonight at Radio City Music Hall, Hurd’s future will be decided: whether or not he will enter the career world as a professional offensive lineman, and if so, which city he will move to and what company will employ him.

Football insiders predict that Hurd, a 2010 Sporting News Pre-season All-American and nominee for the Outland Trophy, given to the best college interior lineman, will be drafted in the third round, which will take place Friday evening.

Hurd, despite a minor calf injury and a bout with the flu after the Fiesta Bowl, ranked eighth out of the 177 offensive guards at the NFL Draft Combine.  Besides his strength and stamina (Hurd posted 25 reps at 225 lbs. at the Combine and played in all but one play in 39  games at UConn), the 6’7″ former Husky is quick on his feet, consistently running his 40 below 5:30.

All of Hurd’s athletic gifts on the gridiron did not come easily.  Hurd never played organized football until playing  at Alumni Field.  His love was baseball, as his late father and he played it together all the time. However,  he joined the freshman football team “because his friends Ryan Grillo and Eddie Tomasek did.”

In college,the offensive guard overcame what his critics called “being soft” by working out on the field and in the weight room.  He also learned that college overall, for students and student athletes, is “all about time management no matter what.”

Because of his time-management skills, Hurd graduated last December with a degree in Criminal Justice with minors in sociology and political science.  Hurd supplemented his education with two summer internships with the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Hartford.

However, even with the best time management and plans, Hurd’s fortitude has been tested.  In October, 2009, friend and teammate cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed outside the UConn Student Union after the football team’s win over Louisville.

Less than two months later, Ledyard High School football player Matthew Buriak died after collapsing during a game.  Hurd was chosen to speak to Buriak’s teammates about the team’s loss because of his perspective as someone who not only had experienced a friend and teammate’s recent death, but also because his and Buriak’s mothers work together.

Last summer, Hurd’s maternal grandfather passed away.  Prior to the beginning of his final season as UConn’s Number 78,  Hurd was dealt another blow when one of his uncles died in a car accident.

No one would have blamed Hurd if his personal losses and hectic schedule caused him to ease up in his efforts and intensity.  Instead, Hurd learned from these events.

“[I] leaned on [my] family,’ said Hurd. “It’s cliche, but life is short.”

Hurd’s love for his family goes with him wherever he is – literally.  His loved ones can been seen on his ever-growing sleeve tattoo.  At 16 Hurd made a deal with his mother: If he attended football camp and did well in school, she would allow him to get one.  True to her word, Susan Hurd allowed her son to get a tattoo with his late father’s initials in Old English lettering.

From there, it was “addicting.” He added his grandmother as an angel; his late grandfather in his Grenadier Guard uniform, standing in front of Windsor Castle in England; his mother comforting a four-year-old Hurd; representations of his sisters in an ocean scene near his wrist, and many others.

“All of my tattoos have meaning and I always have my family with me,” said Hurd.

His  support system inspired Hurd to reach out to others who are not so lucky.  After working with inner-city students through the UConn football team and finishing the treehouse for his nephew Cameron that his late grandfather began, Hurd thinks about how he can use his possible new-found career to give back to the community.

“I have spoken to Peter and Chris Gianakos [of G’s Fitness and Nutrition] about starting a gym for kids to be a mentor and teach kids about fitness and nutrition, especially the kids who come from single-parent homes [like the kids I worked with in the East Hartford School System],” Hurd said.

He does not have all the details worked out yet, but Hurd is positive that he wants to volunteer his time in this way.

For now, he waits for his name to be called and for tomorrow to start.

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In the spirit of James Lipton’s infamous questions on his show Inside The Actors Studio, the Lancelot staff asked Zach Hurd the following questions:

What is your favorite word?

Respect.

What is your least favorite word?

Can’t.

What is your favorite thing to do?

Spend time with family and friends.

What is your least favorite thing to do?

Run sprints.

What sound do you love the most?

The sound it makes when you knock out someone on the [football] field.

What sound do you dislike?

UConn fire alarms in the middle of the night.

What profession other than pro football player would you like to attempt?

Being an agent for the FBI, ATF, or DEA.

What profession do you not want to do?

Coaching college sports because it takes too much time away from your family.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

That I was a good, all-around person.