Pomona High School star linebacker and reigning 5A Jefferson County defensive most valuable player A.J. Zamora announced his verbal commitment to play NCAA football at Nebraska Wesleyan University on …
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Pomona High School star linebacker and reigning 5A Jefferson County defensive most valuable player A.J. Zamora announced his verbal commitment to play NCAA football at Nebraska Wesleyan University on March 29.
After being called up towards the end of his freshman season, Zamora was a four-year member of the Pomona Panthers’ varsity football team and a three-year starter, primarily at linebacker and defensive end. He made first-team all-conference for Jefferson County and second-team all-state as a senior while helping the Panthers to a 7-1 (5-0) record and a league title.
Zamora started playing football when he was in kindergarten. Growing up, he primarily played running back and linebacker, focusing more on the defensive side of the ball as he progressed through the ranks at Pomona.
This year, he was asked to play out of position as a 5’ 10”, 180-pound defensive lineman. Despite the size disadvantage, Zamora flourished in the role, earning a handful of accolades and showing off his Swiss-army-knife-like versatility.
“It was hard,” said Zamora of playing out of position. “I don’t play that position and I’m smaller than all those other guys, but I found my way. I overcame a lot; it helped me learn and adapt to what that position is because it’s not the same as linebacker. I was strong enough to match up with them, but it was more of using my speed to get around those big guys.”
Zamora began the recruiting process last summer and had narrowed his choices down to NWU and Arizona Christian University. He said that NWU Head Coach Brian Keller’s interest in Zamora put the Lincoln, Neb.-based institution over the top.
“At first, we started with video chats,” said Zamora. “(Keller) called me a lot, he is still super interested. Great, great dude. He always texted to make sure everything’s going well. I went to school and saw the school and met him and everybody was super nice. He was checking in and asking how I was doing, asking if everything was going well in the recruiting process”
For helping to prepare him for NCAA competition, Zamora thanked his Pomona coaches — specifically recently-retired Head Coach Jay Madden. Zamora said the tough-minded attitude of his coaches helped push him as a player.
“The coaches prepared me,” said Zamora. “They weren’t easy, they weren’t pushovers. They were hard on us and stuff like that, but it also made everyone on the team better people.
“(Madden) was hard on us but at the end of the day you always saw that he did love us, and he was a good coach and he cared a lot about us,” Zamora continued. “But him being hard on us made us stronger and pushed us to be better. He was just overall a good, smart coach.”
Zamora said he is interested in majoring in business at NWU, with a long-term goal to start his own business someday.
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