When LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg retired from minor league baseball and walked on to the LSU football team in 2016, he didn’t really have a clear vision for himself. He just knew he wanted to play for the Tigers.
The 28-year-old was an LSU baseball commitment before the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft but constant injuries — from his hamstring to his shoulder and even the nerves in his fingers — prevented him from taking the next step in his career.
“Every time I felt like I was getting momentum and getting better and starting to play well, something would happen,” Von Rosenberg said.
When Von Rosenberg first walked onto the LSU football team, he originally intended to play quarterback for the Tigers. He quickly came to realize that the speed of Southeastern Conference football was a lot faster than he anticipated, and he wasn’t sure he would get the reps he need to improve and remain at quarterback.
“It was kind of (a decision made by) Cam Cameron at the time and myself,” Von Rosenberg said. “It was overwhelming to learn the playbook. I was just like ‘OK I don’t know if I can do this. With the reads and all the things that this position requires.’ ”
Pretty soon after, Von Rosenberg switched to tight end, where he spent more time blocking than catching passes. He gained more than 40 pounds when he first set out to be a tight end.
Then, he lost more than half of that when he decided he was tired of getting “beat down” and became a punter when the opportunity presented itself. Von Rosenberg said that neither gaining, nor losing all that weight at once was fun.
“Walking across campus when I was 257, it was like ‘oh my God’,” Von Rosenberg said. “I remember walking across campus, and I was out of breath after a lift. I barely could focus in class. I just remember being miserable, like I couldn’t wait to lose all that weight. I did, but it was a grind to get there and a grind to get it off.”
Von Rosenberg was not a stranger to the position, though. He also punted at Zachary High.
As someone who dealt with various injuries throughout his baseball career and early on at LSU, the less physical aspect of a punter appealed to him more than those that wear down a player’s body.
“Guys are diving into you, trying to block your punt and hurt your plant leg,” Von Rosenberg said. “But it’s very unlikely you get injured unless you’ve done something pretty stupid to yourself.”
But Von Rosenberg wasn’t without injuries when he first arrived back in Baton Rouge. The small nagging injuries that he endured during his redshirt season at LSU discouraged him as he tried to find his place on the Tigers roster.
Von Rosenberg described it as something he just had to “fight and grind” through on his way to being an All-SEC punter. He has punted in every game since LSU faced Chattanooga in 2017 for an average of 44.5 yards per punt with a long of 65 yards.
Now, Von Rosenberg has the opportunity to make the same decision he made almost 10 years ago coming out of high school — finish his collegiate career at LSU or enter the draft.
While many people may tell him to take shot in the NFL, Von Rosenberg wants to focus on graduating and finishing out his LSU career.
“I would consider it, but man it would be difficult to leave after these past three years,” Von Rosenberg said. “What I’ve been able to do. … Now, I’ve had the experience and I’m like ‘man is it really worth missing out on two more years?’ ”