Jack Chat: Zach Bauman
By Devontae Browne
To begin the semester, The Lumberjack sat down with junior running back Zach Bauman, one of the more high-profile athletes at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Since his freshman year, Bauman has accumulated 2,494 rushing yards to go along with 30 touchdowns. Bauman talked about many things, including why he wears No. 34, his goals and accolades at NAU, his life before NAU and his thoughts on the Aug. 30 game versus ASU.
The Lumberjack: Why do you wear number 34?
Zach Bauman: When I was 6 years old, my dad put me on to number 34. He told me Walter Payton, running back of the Chicago Bears, was the greatest running back to ever play. I’ve worn it ever since.
LJ: What does it mean to break the NAU all-time rushing record as a junior? Also, talk about being nominated for the Walter Payton award.
ZB: I’m just over 1,000 yards of breaking the rushing record; that’s something I trained forever since I graduated high school. The award is a true blessing. I did not get the nominations and accolades in high school, so for me personally to come out here and be nominated for what is the Heisman of FCS football is an honor.
LJ: What is it like being a leader on this team, now that you’ve taken a larger role on this year’s team?
ZB: I’m not really a vocal person, so that’s something I’ve had to work on leading by example. I’ve been doing that since my freshmen year since I got here. I’m fine with the position of pressure; I play better with pressure on my shoulders.
LJ: What’s the difference between Big Sky conference games and the annual NAU vs. ASU game? What does playing an instant rival mean to this team?
ZB: As a team, it’s a chance to see where we are at in our growth. For a lot of guys, those are the schools that we got looked over [by]. So, we go out there with a chip on our shoulders with something to prove every time we step on the field.
LJ: What is the significance of winning the up and coming ASU game on Aug. 30?
ZB: This game is important to all of us. We’ve had Aug. 30 circled on the calendar since the schedule actually came out. It’s a big game, our team has been preparing [for it and] I think this is the year.
LJ: How do you motivate yourself to be the running back in order to excel in your craft?
ZB: As a running back, it’s key to be able to cut from any angle. You need great vision, along with acceleration. Running backs have to be able to do everything; blocking, run the ball effectively [and] catch passes. Everybody who told me I could not play at the collegiate level drives me. It’s something I have to do now.
LJ: How has having family who played in the NFL helped your game on the field?
ZB: Having family who played professional football shows me that I am capable myself of doing that. We come from the same place, so why can’t I do it?
LJ: Which team was your favorite to watch when you were growing up as a child?
ZB: My favorite NFL team is the Oakland Raiders. I’m ashamed of it now [chuckles.]