Marc Zeno never was one to stop and think about the things he accomplished as an athlete.
It’s only since his election to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame that the Gramercy native has been somewhat pushed to take stock of his illustrious career.
“I was shocked when I first heard,” said Zeno, who now owns a trucking company in Minnesota. “It’s certainly an honor. I never put that much thought into it. I’m not a guy who thinks about my career. People I meet, they know more about me than I do."
He still might need some convincing.
“I guess I had a pretty good career,” he said.
That would be an understatement.
A standout athlete at Lutcher High School, where he also was heavily recruited as a basketball player, Zeno went on to a stellar career as a wide receiver for the Green Wave. After watching his first season from the sideline while taking a redshirt, Zeno started 44 consecutive regular-season games from 1984-87, establishing himself as one of the most prolific receivers in school history.
He graduated with his name before every receiving record in Tulane’s history book: 236 catches, 25 touchdowns and 17 100-yard games. Most impressively, he departed as the NCAA’s all-time leading receiver with 3,725 yards. He recorded more than 1,000 receiving yards in three straight years.
He formed a dynamic duo with another Lutcher product, quarterback Terrence Jones (also a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame), leading the Green Wave to the 1987 Independence Bowl. His record for receiving yardage still stands in the Green Wave annals and ranks 26th in NCAA history.
“I was known as a quiet guy at Tulane, but I always showed up on Saturdays,” said Zeno, who will be inducted Aug. 6 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “I probably was most known for my work ethic. I’m not a real rah-rah kind of guy.”
"He was the best wide receiver I coached at the time,” said Lutcher coach Tim Detillier, who coached Zeno and current Miami Dolphins standout Jarvis Landry. “You knew he’d be playing at the next level.”
But Zeno was pretty sure it would be in basketball.
“Football kind of came up late,” he said. “I got my first recruiting letter from Loyola Marymount. I was just so excited. Then my sophomore year, I had a great, great spring game. After that, it was all about football.”
Despite what was considered to be a “slow” speed in the 40-yard dash (he ran a 4.8) and a knee injury, Zeno was drafted in the seventh round (182nd overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He later went north, signing with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and spending a season with the BC Lions. He also spent a year with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League.
Said Detillier: “He was an excellent athlete with a big body, sure hands. He was definitely one of those players that, when it’s third-and-long you think, ‘How do I get the ball in his hands?’ I know, if I was the quarterback, I’d be looking for him.”