- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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‘Exit Interview’ is a concept started at WolverineNation last year where we chat with players leaving Michigan about their experiences with the Wolverines and in some cases, what’s next.
Safety Charlie Zeller played on the Michigan scout team during his entire walk-on career. According to the team website, he never recorded a statistic.
Zeller chatted about his Michigan career last month.
Q: How did you end up here, on this team?
Charlie Zeller: I originally planned on playing at a small D-I school, University of San Diego, and I committed there, planning on playing. I had also been applying to different schools across the country in case I ended up not wanting to play football and that’s when I got into Michigan. I took a visit, didn’t meet with the football team or anything like that but decided I wanted to go there because Michigan is such a great school and has that international reputation. Ended up going there and had a very normal freshman year. Lived the student life, joined a fraternity (Sigma Phi Epsilon) and over the summer and really throughout the entire year I had an itch to get back on the football field. So that’s why at the beginning of my sophomore year I did what Jordan [Kovacs] did and did a student body tryout. But they knew who Jordan was. They had no idea who I was. I showed up, did the tryout and luckily for me they needed a defensive back and they let me on the team.
Q: Did you tell a lot of people you made it?
Zeller: Originally I only told my roommates, my family back home and some friends back home. So it didn’t really blow up and then I posted a picture on Facebook of the first time I suited up, the Michigan State game, and it just exploded all over the place. People were asking me if I joined the football team and started getting a lot more attention from that. At first I kept it pretty low key because I didn’t know if I was going to stick with it. It was such a time commitment and I was really focused on academics. But it worked out OK.
Q: What was the walk-on life like for you?
Zeller: At first it was really tough. Freshman year I thought I had no time as it was because I spent all my time doing homework and stuff and when I made the time, I was like, ‘How am I going to keep up my academics and have this full time job as a commitment?’ So it kind of hit my social life a little bit because I wasn’t able to go out with my friends as much but I stayed committed to it because it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m glad that I did.
Q: Did your fraternity use it as a selling point?
Zeller: Yeah, you could say that. During rush, they would like to bring it up a lot and then the fraternity I am in has a monthly journal they put out and they did an article about me, partly because of being on the team and partly because of the California trip the seniors went on last year. They were doing a military journal that week so they wanted to focus on us training with the Navy SEALs. I definitely have gotten a bit of attention from other SigEp’s around the country, too.
Q: Why did you decide not to take your final year?
Zeller: I’ve been very focused on my academics since I’ve been here and I decided it was the best time for me, career-wise, to begin my career. I was in Ross and they do a fantastic job, recruitment-wise, to put you in front of some big-time employers and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some interactions with them. There are some really good opportunities going. It would have been awesome to be a senior on Team 134, but I’m pretty glad how it worked out.
Q; What is next for you?
Zeller: I’ll be interning this summer with DeLoitte in Chicago and then I will be getting my masters of accounting, not really sure where yet but hoping the University of Texas. It’s the number one program in the country. Aiming high for that one.