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Kickin' back | Jeremy Zuttah

Kickin' back with Bucs offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah

MELISSA LYTTLE   |   Times

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

You buck a lot of "jock" stereotypes with such a strong academic background. Is it nice to be well-rounded?

Stereotypes never really bothered me. It actually made things a little more fun. I'd be in class and others would say, "Oh, you're a football player." Then, you show them your test score and you scored 10 points higher than they did.

Didn't you choose Rutgers over several Ivy League schools?

Yes. They were really recruiting me hard at first. Then it became apparent that I was getting a lot of Division I offers and I was going to go that route.

That would have been a bigger academic challenge than football challenge, I suppose.

Yeah. It's hard for a 17-year-old kid when you're getting recruited. You don't want to hear only about school. You want the mix. You know that Division I-A is where all the real competition is. That's where you want to be.

Your dad is an Ivy League guy, right?

Yes. He went to Yale for undergraduate and then Harvard for medical school.

You earned an economics degree. Not to confuse you with Warren Buffett, but do you have a grasp on what's going on in the economy?

I understand it. I'm not going to claim to be an expert. But I see what's happening.

Why didn't you warn us?!

It's happened before. People ran up too much credit, and now no one can get credit and businesses aren't making as much money as before. If you can't borrow money, that's a problem.

If football wasn't available to you, what would you have been doing after school?

The way the economy is going right now, this probably wouldn't be a good option, but I'd probably be in investment banking. That's what my brother (Jeff) is doing. It's a lot of hours, and it's hard work. But I'm very good with numbers, and it pays pretty well, too.

Has your brother been affected by the downturn?

Not really. But he got lucky. He chose Morgan Stanley over (now bankrupt) Lehman Brothers. He made a pretty good choice.

Everyone gets this question: What's the most interesting thing on your iPod? Maybe something different?

You can never have too much Jay-Z, but actually, this might be a little surprising: I have a lot of R&B on my iPod. You might not expect a 300-pound offensive lineman who butts his head against a wall for a living to listen to a lot of R&B. But no, I don't have any Britney Spears or anything, if that's what you're looking for.

When the offensive line gets together for dinner every Thursday, what is it like when you get such a boisterous group together for a supposed civilized meal?

Man, it's just crazy. In college, we used to do something similar. But we'd just be going to a little burger place, maybe Applebee's. You can clown around if you're at Applebee's. If you're at Ruth's Chris or Capital Grille, it's a little different. We still have the joking atmosphere, but it's got to be a little more controlled.

So, it's not exactly a locker-room atmosphere. What's it like with you guys when coaches aren't around?

Walking into the meeting room before it starts, it's joke city. Somebody might crack on somebody because their shirt is too tight, or even during warmups, they might dish it a little bit.

Who delivers the most abuse?

It's Anthony Davis. Actually, it's a toss-up between him and (Donald) Penn. I just try not to get on anybody so I don't get mixed up in it.

Who eats the most at those dinners? Is there a clear winner?

Oh, yes, there definitely is. But I ain't going there. If I put him out there, he's going to crack on me.

Have you had to pay yet (they take turns)?

No. I think I'm off the hook because I had the rookie night dinner in training camp (rookies buy dinner for all the veterans).

What did it cost?

Um, $9,500. Man, that hurt.

Rookie offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah proved his worth when guard Davin Joseph went down for six weeks. If he weren't playing football, Zuttah would be working to increase others' worth as an investment banker.

>>Fast facts

Jeremy Zuttah

Age: 22

Height, weight: 6-4,

303 pounds

College: Rutgers; started 40 of 44 games; played tackle and guard, not allowing a sack in his final two seasons.

Pro: Third-round pick in April; started four games; primary backup at guard.

Kickin' back with Bucs offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah 10/18/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 18, 2008 5:03pm]

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