Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Outback Bowl: Northwestern receiver says stardom is due to his faith

TAMPA — "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." — Hebrews 11:1

Asked to select his favorite biblical passage, this was Zeke Markshausen's pick.

Hebrews 11:1 can be interpreted in many ways.

Some believe it speaks to the importance of loyalty, conscientious and dedication as they relate to being faithful. Others believe the words teach us that all things of relevance need a foundation. For Markshausen, a star Northwestern receiver, Hebrews 11:1 holds the key to living.

"It is the faith given to me by Jesus Christ that has allowed me this opportunity to glorify him on the football field and in life," Markshausen said.

And glorify he has.

Markshausen, whose Northwestern (8-4) team plays Auburn (7-5) at 11 a.m. today at Raymond James Stadium in the Outback Bowl, is a bona fide star, the top pass-catcher on a pass-happy team, a scholarship player for one of the Big Ten's best teams and a master's student in engineering at an elite institution.

None of this would be possible without his faith, Markshausen says.

"I owe everything to that," the senior from Capron, Ill., said.

Life might be sweet today, but that wasn't always so.

When he began college in 2005 as a walk-on at Division III Wisconsin-Platteville, Markshausen's personal relationships went nowhere fast, he wasn't maximizing his potential on the football field and he admittedly was lost in life.

"I felt incomplete," Markshausen said.

To become complete, he turned to God.

"A guy I knew that I had met came to my room one day and started answering my questions about God and Jesus," Markshausen said. "It all made sense. I eventually began to believe in Jesus and that he died for me."

According to Markshausen, that decision provided clarity and freed his mind. It also pushed him to seek the answer to another pressing question: Could he play in the Big Ten?

After a year in Wisconsin, Markshausen enrolled at Northwestern and begged coach Pat Fitzgerald for a tryout. He offered to show the coaches video clips, but instead they simply said, "Get on the field."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder was given one week to impress the staff, and he did so, not by outrunning anyone, but by outmaneuvering them with precise route running and reliable hands.

"It was all a little overwhelming," Markshausen said.

If this story, up to now, sounds like that from the movie Rudy, in which humble Midwesterner Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger walked on at Notre Dame, don't be fooled. Markshausen's teammates are emphatic about one thing: Zeke is no Rudy.

"Look at Rudy," Northwestern receiver Andrew Brewer said. "He was pretty undersized and unathletic. That's not the case with Zeke."

That said, Markshausen, who finally earned a scholarship in 2009, had to display a great amount of patience before his chance to shine would come. His work went unnoticed for three seasons by those unable to look beyond the statistic sheets, but all the while he was building a foundation.

Losses to graduation at receiver after the 2008 season gave the hard-working Markshausen an opening, and he took advantage of it. Before this season, he had one career reception. It covered only 6 yards.

He has 79 this season for 774 and three scores.

His reception total ranks 19th best in Division I-A.

"I don't believe the young man has had a bad practice in his entire career," Fitzgerald said. "He catches everything that's thrown to him. He calls the coach (one day) and says, 'Can I transfer, can I walk on?' And now, 80 receptions later, (he has had) one of the best years ever as a wide receiver in Northwestern football history while being an electrical engineering major. He's just the full package."

For that, Markshausen credits one thing: his faith.

"That gave me a purpose," Markshausen said.

Outback Bowl: Northwestern receiver says stardom is due to his faith 12/31/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cue the Scott Frost to Nebraska speculation


    Nebraska shook up the college sports world Thursday afternoon when it fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

    And that should scare UCF fans.

  2. USF defense feeds on Temple offense to take NCAA interceptions lead


    TAMPA — Backed up in his end zone, Temple quarterback Logan Marchi scrambled, trying to elude a USF defensive end coming straight for him. Until then, Marchi hadn't had much luck hitting his receivers.

    South Florida Bulls safety Devin Abraham (20) sacks Temple Owls quarterback Logan Marchi (12) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, September 21, 2017.
  3. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  4. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  5. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.