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North Hills grad a candidate for College Football Hall of Fame

| Friday, July 8, 2016, 8:57 p.m.
Submitted
Former North Hills football player John Zanieski has been nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame.
Submitted
John Zanieski

A North Hills graduate is on the 2017 ballot for induction to the College Football Hall of Fame.

John Zanieski made First-Team All-America and First-Team All-Ivy League as a middle guard for Yale in 1984.

He is one of 95 players and 29 coaches from the divisional ranks.

Pro football greats Peyton Manning, who played for Tennessee, and Marshall Faulk, who starred at San Diego State, are among 75 players and six coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame announced nominees June 1.

Inductees will be named Jan. 6.

To be placed on the ballot, players must have made first-team all-America and not have played for 10 full seasons after their final year of intercollegiate football.

Zanieski, 52, of Riverside, Ill., has been nominated before and said he is honored to be considered.

“It's always flattering that people remember me, (but) I try not to let it become too much of who I am today,” he said, adding it probably impresses his 12-year-old son more.

Zanieski led North Hills to the semifinals of the WPIAL playoffs twice before graduating in 1981.

At Yale, he finished second on the school's quarterback sack list with 21 and was selected as the team's Most Valuable Player in 1984.

He had 168 solo tackles and ranks among the Bulldogs' career tackling leaders.

Zanieski is married and runs a steel manufacturing business in Chicago.

He said playing football for Yale gave him opportunities he probably otherwise would not have had.

He studied economics and political science and went on to earn a graduate degree at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the top business schools in the country.

“Football (got me) a look at Yale, (which) got me the look at Wharton and the (two) fueled my career development,” he said.

Zanieski is one of five individuals who make up the 2016 Class of Inductees to the North Hills Sports Hall of Fame.

He plans to attend the induction ceremony in September with his family.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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