It’s no secret Zach Zenner is a smart guy.
We’ve heard it from the media. We’ve heard it from his teammates. And his educational history is a solid testament.
First he passed the MCAT with a 30. Then he earned a degree in biology at South Dakota State University. Then he was accepted to the Sanford School of Medicine at South Dakota.
Although football was his path, Zenner still stayed active in medical work. While on injured reserve in 2016, he studied how fructose impacts hypertension levels in rats at Henry Ford Hospital on Detroit’s west side. His 2018 offseason project involved searching for drug treatments and a cure for Batten Disease.
Now, as his family grows, Zenner’s considering his future after football. He spoke Thursday about how he would provide for his family if his career were to end today.
“I’m 27. I mean, that’s like at least 25 years of I need something to do. I have a lot of interests but I also need an income. I’m really passionate about science. It’s possible that I get to that point where I decide I don’t want to keep playing or people don’t want me to play anymore for them, and I won’t go to medical school but I’d go somewhere else in the healthcare field.”
He said he could go into a research as a lab tech, or maybe attend another professional school, or even teach science. But now that he’s got two kids, choosing a career path depends on how much time it would take.
“That eliminates a lot of specialities in the field,” he said. “Honestly just in my ... experience as a player, dealing with healthcare, I’m leaning more toward a primary care, general practitioner type of thing.”
The Lions signed Zenner to a one-year contract extension in March. He was brought back from injured reserve last season and rushed for 237 yards and 4.65 yard per carry in the last four games. He first joined the Lions on a UDFA deal in 2015 after he went undrafted.