Former Walk-On Earns Big 12 All-Academic Honors!

Mike Zunica ’12 was a standout fullback for the Mustangs in 2010 and 2011, earning All-Catholic League Blue honors in his senior season while playing a huge role in leading St. Rita to back-to-back semifinal appearances. Unfortunately, the fullback position is a dying breed at the collegiate level with most teams instituting no-huddle, spread attacks all but eliminating the fullback as a scholarship position.

The University of Kansas had shown Zunica some interest as a preferred walk-on at the completion of his senior season based on some of the things they liked in his film, but he decided to take his talents to New York City and Columbia University in the prestigious Ivy League. After a semester at Columbia, Zunica, despite a stellar 3.00 GPA, decided that he wanted to pursue his dream of playing major college football. Kansas had told him that if things didn’t work out at Columbia, he would be welcomed with open arms to Lawrence, Kansas to be a Jayhawk.

While sitting out the 2013 season due to transfer rules, Zunica made quite an impression on the Kansas coaching staff with his hard work and dedication to the program. Then after spending the summer in Lawrence with his teammates taking classes and training, Head Coach Charlie Weiss called Zunica to the front of the room at a pre-season team meeting to tell him that he would not have to pay another dime to attend the University of Kansas. He had beaten the odds and earned himself a full-tuition scholarship for his junior and senior seasons.

Zunica now is a mainstay on three phases of the Jayhawks special teams: punt return, punt, and kickoff return while also playing the Will linebacker position, and he earned himself a spot on the 2014 Big 12 All-Academic 2nd team. Less than 100 players in the entire Big 12 Conference qualified for a spot as players must keep a GPA above 3.0 and must have participated in a minimum of 60% of their team’s contests. Zunica praises the academic preparation he received as a student at St. Rita for his success at both Columbia and Kansas. “I’m very thankful that I attended a high school that pushed me to my limits academically which has now allowed me to be successful at two major universities with a great tradition of academics,” said Zunica.