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Athlete Spotlight
james zilinger
James Zilinger is one of the most underrated football players in Illinois. He has all the intangibles college programs are looking for in a running back; he is fast, has vision and has excellent hands. Recruit Nation recently sat down with James to learn more about him and where he is in his recruiting journey.
I started playing football when I was 5 years old for the Joliet Raiders. I was born around the game, it has been there my whole life because my dad was playing semi-pro. From such an early age, I grew up watching my dad play. He was the one who influenced me to play, and without having that love and influence I wouldn't be the player I am today. My primary position is running back, but I can play wherever I am needed. I have played Wide Receiver, Linebacker, Free Safety and Cornerback. I can long snap as well! I am willing to do what I need to in order to help my team succeed. In my high school career, I have averaged 7.07 yards per run on 119 attempts, 841 total rushing yards with 14 total touchdowns. I also compete in track and run sprints from the 55m dash to the 400m, including sprint relays.
My personal goals for my sports is to be recognized by colleges for the effort and hard work I put into my sports. I would like to be all-conference and all-state, while also meeting all of my personal stat expectations. My team goals for both sports are to go as far as we can in the state tournaments. I give all my effort and heart into both programs and push my teammates to be the best they can be, and then become even better. I want to be able to build bonds on both teams that can carry us through whatever obstacles are in our way. My heart and my effort help me standout amongst others. Many kids say they are dedicated but so few are truly dedicated, and I am one of those few. I am dedicated to my sports, and to my classroom. I am a student-athlete for a reason. Student comes before athlete, and that is a mentality I have always have. I am going to give you 110% every day because I want to be a better me the next day. My heart for football is unmatched. As I said, I grew up around the sport since I was a baby. Football is an aspect in my life I will never be able to get rid of, and I will never want to. I love the sport and all the long days, sweat, and struggles that come with it. I accept all challenges. When people doubt me, it just adds fuel to the fire.
My peers and coaches say I am the hardest working athlete on the field. My dedication, again, is top of the line. Last season, our coach would say to the team, "My challenge to all of you is to outwork Zilinger." That became the goal for the team, including myself. I would work harder to become better than the person I was yesterday. In school it is the same thing. My hard work in class gets me the grades and great GPA I have now. I have a current GPA of 4.6 and have a cumulative high school GPA of 4.36 since I take weighted classes. I took the ACT and SAT and scored a 27 and a 1280, respectively. I have been on high honor roll for my time in high school due to keeping all A's in honors classes. Honor Society is also another achievement due to its competitive selection. I am in the National Honor Society. We volunteer at places such as Feed My Starving Children, and the Northern Illinois Food Bank. We also host a fun fair for kids at our high school.
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