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Harlan: Thomas Jefferson’s Zandier in no rush to switch positions |

Harlan: Thomas Jefferson’s Zandier in no rush to switch positions

Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Thomas Jefferson’s Zane Zandier (23) celebrates his team's 34-21 victory over Franklin Regional in their WPIAL Class AAA semifinal game Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, at Hempfield's Spartan Stadium.

Thomas Jefferson junior Zane Zandier may switch positions eventually, but history tells him there’s no reason to rush.

So for now, he’ll remain an oversized safety.

“(Coach Bill Cherpak) kind of left it up to me whether I wanted to move to linebacker this year,since I’ll probably play there in college,” said Zandier, who’s 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. “I asked him what he preferred because I really didn’t know. I’m fine with playing either.”

With memories of Dom DeCicco, Cherpak recommended Zandier stay in the secondary.

“He reminds me a lot of Dom,” Cherpak said. “Both are really good athletes with ball skills. (Zane’s) huge, and he’s physical. He’ll take your head off.”

DeCicco starred for Thomas Jefferson and later Pitt as an all-conference strong safety. He transitioned to linebacker in the NFL. With similar skills and size, Zandier draws inevitable comparisons.

“I’m fine with that,” said Zandier, a two-way starter who scored 17 times last season for the WPIAL Class AAA champions. “Just watching his old highlight tapes, he’s incredibly athletic and a really good player. Being compared to him is an honor.”

Almost a dozen Division I schools have extended offers to Zandier, with West Virginia and Syracuse among his FBS scholarships. The offers all arrived since January, after his online video was updated.

“It’s been pretty busy,” said Zandier, who also talked with Pitt, Penn State, Maryland and Stanford coaches. “I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

Most project him at linebacker in college. To make the position switch successfully, they envision him adding 20 or 30 pounds, a mission he’s already started with weight-room work and sessions with a speed trainer.

“I lift almost every day to try to continually put on weight,” Zandier said. “If you build your leg muscles, you’re going to put on weight and increase speed.”

Zandier proved his speed last year with 71- and 72-yard punt-return touchdowns in the same game. He also had four interceptions a season ago and could crowd the line defensively to stop the run.

“If you look at his highlight video, it’s pretty impressive,” Cherpak said. “I think once that got out there, everybody saw it. Then they see in person how big he is. He passes the eye test. … They love that versatility of a linebacker who can cover. That’s what everybody’s looking for.”

Whether the roster says safety or linebacker, Zandier isn’t concerned.

“Position really doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I like playing defense. I just like hitting people.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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