Michael Zyskowski finished his seventh season at Old Dominion and first as running backs coach.
Zywkowski mentored Ray Lawry, who was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year after rushing for 947 yards on 134 carries. Lawry led all freshman with a 7.1 yards per carry average and finished fourth among all freshman with 16 rushing touchdowns and ninth in the country in rushing yards. Lawry broke the ODU single-season record for rushing yards and finished just one touchdown shy of tying Thomas DeMarco's record for TD's in a season. Lawry's four scores at Western Kentucky tied the single-game record.
The Monarchs rushed for a total of 1,793 yards, with 1,644 of those yards coming from running backs. ODU averaged 149.4 rushing yards per game and 442 yards per game. The running backs were also productive catching the ball out of the backfield, as they combined for 46 catches for 321 yards.
The ODU special teams unit put together another solid season in 2013, as several school season and career records were broken.
Senior Jarod Brown tied his own single-season record with 103 points and was 64-of-65 on extra points and 13-of-20 on field goals. He set the school record for longest field goal twice, with a 52-yard boot against The Citadel, and a 54-yard kick at Pittsburgh that set the Heinz Field record for a professional or collegiate kicker. Brown was named the Specialist of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Richmond.
Aaron Evans set an ODU single-season record for kick returns, 33, and kick return yards, 802, and also returned a punt 64-yards for a touchdown in ODU's 21-17 win over Liberty.
The Monarchs led the FCS in scoring offense in 2012 with 45.15 points per game, passing offense at 393.85 and total offense with 548.23 yards per game. The offensive line protected quarterback Taylor Heinicke on his way to the most prolific season of any FCS quarterback. The front five also opened the way for Tyree Lee to rush for more than 100 yards four times and the second highest single-season total in ODU history. Left tackle Jack Lowney earned Second Team All-America honors from College Sports Madness and Third Team All-CAA accolades and left guard David Born received Second Team All-CAA honors. Zyskowski helped punter Jonathan Plisco and kicker Jarod Brown to First Team All-CAA honors, while Plisco earned All-America honors as well. Plisco finished fifth in the FCS with a 45.0 yard average and a long of 61 yards. He booted eight punts of 50 yards or longer and eight inside the 20. Brown set the FCS single-season record with the most extra points in a season without a miss, going 73-for-73. He was also a CAA best 83.3 percent on field goals, going 10-for-12 including the game-winner in ODU’s thrilling 64-61 win over No. 18 New Hampshire, which also included a key 83-yard kickoff return by Antonio Vaughan to set up a touchdown.
Under Zyskowski’s tutelage on special teams, punter Jonathan Plisco earned 12 All-America honors and the Monarchs have been among the nation’s leaders in blocked kicks.
As the Monarchs concluded the 2011 campaign at 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Plisco earned six All-America distinctions as the nation’s No. 2 punter for the second-consecutive season. Additionally, the Monarchs topped the FCS blocked kicks list with 11. Along with First Team All-CAA honors for Plisco, punt returner Reid Evans was also named Third Team All-Conference.
Year number two of Monarch football was just as successful for the special teams unit. Plisco ranked second among FCS punters, just missing being the top FCS punter by .05 yards. True freshman Colby Goodwyn, who was named First Team All-State as a return specialist, ranked fourth among all FCS kick returners and set the Division I record (FBS or FCS) for kickoff return yardage in a game with 333 yards in his nine returns against #14/16 Cal Poly. In addition to the individual NCAA kick return record, Old Dominion also set the record for most kickoff return yardage by a team (365 yards on 11 returns) against the nationally-ranked Mustangs.
Old Dominion boasted two All-Americans in its first season of FCS play in 2009 coming from the special teams unit. Plisco, who led the nation in punting at a 44.84 yards per punt, earned All-American honors by the Associated Press, The Sports Network, and the College Sporting News, while long snapper Dustin Phillips was among 50 student-athletes named to the 2009 edition of the Fabulous Fifty Team for Division I FCS All-American honors from The College Sporting News.
Zyskowski joined the Monarch coaching staff after spending the previous four seasons at the University of Maine where he coached the running backs and served as the Co-Special Team’s Coordinator in 2007.
In his final season at Maine in 2007, Zyskowski guided the school’s eighth 1,000-yard back in Jhamal Fluellen to all-conference honors after finishing in the top six in both rushing and all-purpose yardage. A year earlier he helped mentor tailback Arel Gordon, who earned Second Team All-Atlantic 10 honors after ranking seventh in the league in rushing and second in all-purpose yards per game.
In 2005, Zyskowski tutored Montell Owens who was entering his first season as a starter at tailback. Owens became a durable runner for the Black Bears who finished the season with 779 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Owens finished the season ninth in the Atlantic 10 in rushing yards per game and tied for third in rushing touchdowns. In 2006, Owens signed as a rookie free agaent with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has since become a two-time Pro-Bowl Selection and Team Captain.
In addition to coaching football, Zyskowski also gained important experience in the spring of 2005 as he served as a student-assistant coach for the Black Bear baseball team, which won the America East Tournament championship and qualified for the Oxford Regional in the NCAA Tournament. Zyskowski’s younger brother, Josh, was a pitcher on the squad.
For the last three seasons, Zyskowski has participated in the annual Lauren’s First and Goal Football Camp at Lafayette College. The one-day clinic features nearly 275 college coaches who volunteer their time to teach aspiring football players the in-and-outs of the game and raise money for Lauren’s First and Goal, a charitable organization created to support pediatric brain tumor research and support local pediatric cancer services.
A senior captain who played fullback, Zyskowski, helped lead the way for running back Marcus Williams to rush for 1,284 yards during the 2003 season and eventually into first place in school history for career rushing yards.
He earned his B.S. in landscape horticulture from Maine in 2006. He currenty resides in Norfolk with his wife Becky and their daughter Marley (6) and son Brandon (2).
The Zyskowski File:
Birthdate: August 12. 1980
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
High School: Union High School
College: Maine `06
Family: Wife: Becky; Daughter - Marley (5), Son - Brandon (1)
Primary: Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, South Jersey, All Specialists (K/P/S)
Auxiliary:Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma
JUCO/Prep: Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma
2014 - Present: Old Dominion University - Recruiting Coordinator/Running Backs
2012 - 2014: Old Dominion University - Special Teams Coordinator/Offensive Line
2008 - 2011: Old Dominion University - Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs
2007: University of Maine - Running Backs and Co-Special Team's Coordinator
2005 - 2006: University of Maine - Assistant Coach - Running Backs
2004: University of Maine - Student Assistant - Running Backs
All-American Monarchs Under Coach Zyskowsk:
2012: Jonathan Plisco
2011: Jonathan Plisco
2009: Jonathan Plisco, Dustin Phillips
All-Conference Monarchs Under Coach Zyskowsk:
2014: Ray Lawry - Conference USA Freshman of the Year/All-Freshman Team
2014: Jarrett Cervi - Conference USA All-Freshman Team (Punter)
2012: Jonathan Plisco - First Team All-CAA
2012: Jarod Brown - First Team All-CAA
2012: David Born - Second Team All-CAA
2012: Jack Lowney - Third Team All-CAA
2011: Jonathan Plisco - First Team All-CAA; Reid Evans - Third Team All-CAA
"Coach Zyskowski has done an excellent job at recruiting impressive student-athletes to our campus. As our new recruiting coordinator we like his leadership in that position. He will coach our running backs this year and we look for him to improve and grow that position as we move into Conference USA."
- Head Coach Bobby Wilder on Coach Zyskowski