CLEMSON, SC - Travis Zachery has a nose for the endzone.
The junior tailback from Marietta, Ga. scored 16 touchdowns in 1999, the
second-highest total in Clemson history.
And he's off to an even better start in 2000. Through the first two games,
Zachery has hit paydirt five times (four on the ground and once through the
air) to establish himself - with apologies to Rod Gardner - as the Tigers'
No. 1 scoring machine.
"I've got a goal every time I touch the ball," said Zachery at Tuesday's
weekly CU football press conference. "I want to score every time I touch the
ball. In the redzone, I get really hungry for the ball. I'm always wanting
the ball down there. I've got a tenacity for wanting to get into the
But he remains an enigma.
When talk of Clemson football surfaces, very rarely does Zachery's name
emerge. In fact, you could make a case for him being the most underrated of
Clemson's skill-position players. In the Tigers' wins over The Citadel and
Missouri, Zachery has rushed a combined 29 times for 153 yards and has
caught four passes for 51 yards. He needs only nine receptions to break the
all-time mark for running backs at CU.
But when a reporter asked him on Tuesday if he felt overlooked at times,
Zachery responded quickly.
"I don't really get in to all that," he said. "I just go out there and prove
myself every play in practice to be the best player I can be."
His detractors say he doesn't have breakaway speed. Neither did Walter
Payton. They say he doesn't have the moves to be a top-notch college runner.
But, as is the case with a certain Minnesota Vikings wide receiver, all he
does is score touchdowns.
"God blessed me with a lot of different things," Zachery said. "He didn't
bless me with blazing speed, but I think he blessed me with a lot of other
things that a lot of players don't have. I'm just thankful for that. I'm
just going to work on the little things that I am good at."
One of the things Zachery's definitely good at, besides scoring touchdowns,
is bulling opposing defenders. At 6-foot, 190 pounds, he runs with the
strength of a 230-pound fullback - a fact not lost on Tommy Bowden.
"He might not be the most talented tailback, but he runs extremely hard,"
said the CU head coach of Zachery. "He knows what to do. He knows where to
go. And he goes there full speed."
Indeed, if there's one thing Zachery knows, it's where the endzone is and
how to get there.
Brad Davis is the asst sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.