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Q&A WITH USC’S ZACH BANNER

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By Michael CruzUSC2

 

Name: Zach Banner
School: University of Southern California Trojans
Weight: 345 lbs.
Height: 6’9
40 yard dash: 5.0 seconds
Vertical Jump: 25 inches
Bench Press: 405 lbs.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Favorite Chamorro Dish: Kelaguen of all kinds!

When the Spanish came to Guam in the 1500’s they were in awe of the Chamorro men’s physical size. Out of the 200,000 plus Chamorros currently worldwide, one in particular stands out for his size. His name is Zach Banner and he may be our island’s best hope for making the NFL.  This outstanding role model took some time to answer questions for GSPN.

Banner’s Guam roots come from his grandfather from his mother’s side of the family, who is Chamorro, while his father is African-American.

GSPN: Thanks for taking the time out to interview with GSPN. So, how is the summer conditioning program going?

ZB: Summer workouts are great. The big focus had been on flexibility and conditioning my body for camp. We go to camp August 2, so lately you can imagine I’ve been going quiet with my outside world. Social networks been off for about three weeks now, and my family is always texting me back home. They understand I’m focused in, so most of the time they let me be.

GSPN: You redshirted this past season at USC for football. What was that like?

ZB: Redshirting was totally my choice. Coach Kiffen gave me the choice and I took the redshirt. I wanted to learn the system even more and be able to dominate on the field.

GSPN: Zach, you also played basketball for the Trojans. Do you still want to continue being the rare two-sport athlete in Division I?

ZB: I announced this year I was not going to play basketball anymore for USC. I need to start focusing on the sport that will continue to be my career and support for my family back home.

Zach Banner suited up with USC Trojan teammates.  (courtesy photo)

Zach Banner suited up with USC Trojan teammates. (courtesy photo)

GSPN: How is making the transition playing big time Division I football compare to high school.

ZB: The transition to Pac12 football, and even more to USC is huge. Not too many linemen can go from high school and play at this level. A lot fall off in the depths of a roster and choose different careers. I refuse to let that happen to me.

GSPN: What are you goals for this upcoming season?

ZB: Right now I am the backup right tackle behind senior Kevin Graf. I’m pushing for a starting role and will do whatever the coaches ask. I also plan on playing a role in the special teams this year. I want to show my versatility by playing special teams along with my positional role.

GSPN: How important is to be a student athlete that represents your family, culture, and community?

ZB: Huge! I feel that when it comes to Tacoma, Washington (especially the east side of the city) and the people of Guam, I’m doing something really extraordinary. Few people can go to a top university, receive a free education, play for a football powerhouse, and have limitless network opportunities. The youth and elders look to me to represent my heritage, home, and family. I’m inspired to be the best and work hard every day. “Family Over Everything” is not just a group, it’s a motto, and it’s a lifestyle.

GSPN: You have a tattoo on your left arm. What does it symbolize?

ZB- I have a latte stone design that my Mom and Dad helped me find my junior year of high school. My mom and her family are the ones from Guam. I wanted to represent my family in all of my tattoos. Inside the latte stone it has the crest of Guam that is identical to the one on the Flag of Guam. It says “Guam” inside the design, and there is a traditional bamboo fish hook thru the core of the design. This being my first tattoo I wanted Guam to be represented through all of my successes from high school on. Since then I have gotten “FOE: Family Over Everything” tattooed on my same arm. Along with my area code “253”. A representation of my neighborhood “ESO” which stands for “East Side Original”.  The tattoo underneath my right arm is the design of a rose and on the leafs of the rose I have my mother’s name, sister’s name, brother’s name, dad’s name, and my four cousins (“JH”) on one of the leafs representing 4 of my cousins who played a big part in raising me as a substitute for not having an older brother: Josh, Jason, Jacob, and Jordan Hadley. My tattoos represent my family and my home. I will continue to represent my history through all my achievements.

GSPN: I read you ran 4.6 40 yard dash on the internet. True?

ZB: [laughs] That 4.6 forty is a typo. Someone had mistyped something along the way of my career.

GSPN: Which offensive tackle inspires you to improve your game?

ZB: Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones

GSPN: Anyone you want to thank for your success in life?

ZB: My family back home in Tacoma and Guam are the ones I play for and strive to make proud. I never think about my personal glory, it’s all for the three letters I represent: FOE.

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