2B The Statement // Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010 // The Statement 7B
Editor in Chief:
The Statement is The Michigan
Daily's news magazine, distributed
every Wednesday during the
academic year. To contact The State-
met e-mail calero@michigandaily.
TH EJUNKD RAWER
random student interview
Hey Taryn, this is Trevor
Calero from The Michigan
Daily. How are you doing?
I'm good how are you?
Good. Taryn, so what are you
doing here at the University.
What's your deal?
tam planning on majoring in cellular
and molecular biology.
So, what does that mean?
Um ... I'm hoping to someday become
a science researcher.
What's your dreamjob?
To work for a genetics company that
would allow me to make dinosaurs
real, like in "Jurassic Park."
[Laughs] I don't know if that's pos-
It's not. But it's a dream.
Yeah I guess dreams don't have to
be real. So are you doing anything
this summer in terms of genetic
research or anything?
I am not. I'm justworking the regular
old summer job.
Yeah? Where are you working?
I work at Pacsun. At Somerset Mall.
So you're really hip, right?
Oh, I'm so trendy. It's ridiculous.
How did you get the job?
I walked into the store and I asked if
they were accepting applications and
the manager told me she'd give me an
interview on the spot.
And so you got the job right there
No. I had to wait, like, a week. But it
was the first job I ever tried to get.
Taryn, how do you do it? You don't
know how many jobs I've applied
for and have not even gotten a call
back. And you get one on the spot.
I know, I know. I couldn't believe it
either. But you gotta justbe confident
when you walk in, and really friendly.
And polite and dress the part.
What's the part for Pacsun?
For Pacsun? Um ... just, like, cute,
trendy. You know, hair done.
Oh. And confidence.
Smiling. Confident. They like that.
I'll keep that in mind next tme Im
try to get ajob.
So have you always wanted to
work at Pacsun?
Well ... retail is sort of just an easy
summer job. Not very demanding, not
And it doesn't take much to learn
how to do it.
No. Not at all. If you can fold a shirt
and press buttons on a computer
you're good to go.
Do you get free clothes and stuff?
Not free, but we geta pretty good dis-
Can you get me a really good dis-
count on Pacsun wear?
[Laughs] I could, but I would get fired
[Laughs] You don't have to tell.
Don't you get, like, a friends and
Not even family?
I mean, if I'm buying it for someone.
Oh. Like a present.
Well my birthday is a long ways
[Laughs] That's too bad. I'm sorry.
Is your closet just decked in, what
is it, what do they sell there, like,
[Laughs] I do have a lot of stuff from
there just because clothes are expen-
sive and when you're paying for them
yourself on a Pacsun wage ... you can't
really afford ..'
I would never work at aretailstore
if I didn't want to wear the clothes.
So, if you could work anywhere in
Somerset, where would itbe? Any-
where: north side, south side?
Oh gosh. If I could work anywhere .".
There is a right answer to this you
I would work at Tiffany's because you
get to look at fancy jewelry all day,
and it's not busy. There's no cleanup
at the end of the night. You just get to
close and go home right away.
- Taryn is an LSA freshman. Don't
evenbother asking for a discount.
TS RARE TO find Zoltan Mesko with-
out a smile on his face these days.
Ask anyone who knows him - his family,
teammates, current and former coaches or any
of his classmates in the Ross School of Busi-
ness. They'll all agree.
But for Mesko - Michigan's all-time leader
in total punts and punt-yardage - life hasn't
always been something to smile about.
Mesko was born in Timisoara, Romania, a
town of about 300,000 on the westernmost tip
of the country, during a time of great turmoil.
The country had been under communist con-
trol for more than 40 years, and anger against
the regime had sparked an outright rebellion.
Mesko even recalls having to dodge bullets
with his parents.
"For the kids, life was very tough," said
Michael, Mesko's father. "The food was very
limited. The gasoline was also limited. To play
a game, a ball game, you have the streets and
one ball for many families."
Despite the hardships, Michael and Eliza-
beth - Mesko's mother - tried their best to
provide for their son, sacrificing much for him.
"For growth for Zoltan, milk (was) very
important," Michael said. "I needed to go very
early in the morning (to wait in) line when the
store was opening because maybe other people
got the milk. If you (were) last in the line or too
late, you (were) going home with no milk."
Mesko recalls his mother waiting in line for
three hours to purchase eggs for a birthday
cake for her son. On the way home, she tripped
on a curb and dropped the eggs she had worked
so hard to obtain. "She cried for another three
hours," Mesko said.
"It was always a fight," Michael said. "To
have some things, you need to sacrifice. We just
(ate) to survive one day to another day."
When mesko was 11, his parents entered
the green card lottery and were some of the
55,000 chosen to receive a green card out of the -
200,000 that applied.
Luckily for the Meskos, they had friends who
had won the lottery the year before to help the
family settle down in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Having learned English in school in Roma-
nia, 11-year-old Mesko found the transition
much easier than his parents.
In Romania, Michael had been a mechanical
engineer and Elizabeth a civil engineer. When
his family first came to the United States,
Mesko's mother cleaned houses and his father
assembled door locks to earn minimum wage.
Since then, things have gotten much better
- Michael is currently a quality control engi-
neer and Elizabeth is a geotechnical engineer
with a client list that has included NASA and
the Cleveland Browns. Though they've been
busy, Mesko's parents haven't missed a single
Michigan football home game in the last four
And their son has not disappointed in his
five years at Michigan, working hard both on
the field and in the classroom. He graduated
from the Ross School of Business lastcyear with
a 3.65 GPA, breaking nearly every Michigan
punting record along the way.
"You talk about the American dream - he is
(it)," former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr
said of Mesko, whom he recruited out of high
school. "He's not just a football player. He's a
guy that's making the very most of all of his
But no matter how busy things got, Mesko
always worked to keep a smile on his face and
on the faces of those around him.
"He always had this sense of humor,"
Michael said. "The whole population in Roma-
nia has this spirit, this humor spirit. We are
joking, we are laughing. Because this is how
you need to take life, seriously, but you need to
IN TWO WEEKS, Mesko will probably
have one more reason to smile. On April 22,
the 2010 NFL Draft will commence and Mesko
is widely believed to be one of the top punters
It's a rare feat for a punter to be selected,
and many project Mesko will be one of the only
punters in this year's draft.
Despite the excitement surrounding the
upcoming weeks, Mesko admits he didn't
always want to be a football player. Growing
up in Romania, he mostly played soccer with
his friends, and Michael remembers a stadium
across the street from their apartment where
Mesko and his friends would sneak in to play.
They would climb the 10-foot high cement
fence to enter, careful not to cut their hands
on the shards of glass at the top. Sometimes
guards with dogs would chase them out, but
they always went back.
The change to football came one fateful day
during gym class in Ohio. Mesko was in the
eighth grade and the class was playing kickball.
When it was his turn, he kicked the ball so hard
it knocked out a light on the gym ceiling.
Mesko's gym teacher, Mr. Springer, who was
also the high school football coach, decided to
give the big leg an ultimatum - pay for the light
or play football next year.
The scrawny eighth grader grew up during
high school - growing three inches and gain-
ing 80 pounds - and by the time Mesko got to
Michigan, many believed he had the potential
to do incredible things both as a Wolverine and
"When we practiced the punt, everybody
watched because they knew that he was going
to unleash some unbelievable punts that
(looked like they) were shot from a rocket,"
Carr said. "The first time he did it in a game,
you could hear an 'ohhh' in the stands."
It wasn't just his punts that got the fans'
attention, though. In 2006, Mesko's redshirt
freshman year, the students started a tradition
that lasted his entire career at the University.
Whenever Mesko would punt, the student sec-
tion would form a "Z" with their hands.
For Mesko, it was an honor unseen.
"I kept hearing about it," Mesko said. "And
I was, like, 'What's the big deal?' So I went to
check it out and it was right before a snap. I
looked up and the snap was about to hit me in
my facemask. And I was like, 'Oh crap, get rid of
it, go go go.' I never really got to see it a lot but I
knew it was out there."
IT WASN'T UNTIL his redshirt sopho-
more season that Mesko truly began to hone
his skills when Filip Filipovic, a former NFL
punter with the Dallas Cowboys, offered to
help Mesko with his technique.
At the time, Mesko was strugglingto improve
and looking for guidance.
Over the years, the relationship has grown.
This year, when Mesko's last season at Michi-
gan ended, Filipovic traveled from Chicago
every week leading up to the NFL Scouting
Combine to help Mesko prepare.
The mentorship has proved beneficial as
Todd McShay, director of college football scout-
ing for ESPN Scouts Inc., said Mesko is prob-
ably one of the top punters in this year's draft
class with potential to develop into a starting
punter at the next level. Filipovic agrees.
"Zoltan (is) the kind of guy that can punt in
cold weather, he can punt directionally inside
the 20 (yard line), ore-step punts out of the
back of theend zone, he can do that," Filipovic
"He really has become one of those punt-
ers who has all of the attributes. He has good
hands. He's quick with his get off time. There's
really no reason for a coachto getnervous about
sending him out onto the field at any level."
MESKO IS A self-proclaimed goofball.
His best friend on the football team, fifth-
year senior Tim North, said Mesko is always
trying to get his teammates to laugh, especially
during morning workouts.
He may have met his match though when the
Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons start-
ed asking a tough question at last month's NFL
"They sat me down and said, 'Just tell us a
joke,'" Mesko said. "'Uhhh, I wasn't prepared
for this.' And I told this joke that was so bad. I
stopped them and I was, like, 'I have to apolo-
gize for that bad joke.' And they were just look-
ing at each other and they were, like 'OK, let's
move on.' "
But despite missing his chance to show
potential future employers his humor, Mesko
has had his fair share of shenanigans with
teammates and a famous former Wolverine,
After former Michigan defensive end
LaMarr Woodley's first season with the Pitts-
burgh Steelers, he came back to Ann Arbor
to workout in the Michigan weight room and
train with the strength and conditioning
coaches. One day, Mesko was fooling around in
the training room with a crutch he managed to
get his hands on and he hit Woodley in the shin.
The 6-foot-2 inch 250 pound-plus Woodley
wasn't happy, but Mesko was able to get away.
For the next few months, whenever Woodley
would see Mesko he would vow to get him back.
Then, one day Woodley was driving his new
Mercedes Benz in the athletic campus parking
lot and saw Mesko on his cell phone. Woodley
got out of his car and started chasing Mesko,
who didn't see it coming. But Woodley had for-
got to put his car in park and it almost smashed
into Yost Ice Arena. He had to sprint back to his
car to get it to stop just in time.
"There's one thing about Zoltan, he doesn't
care who you are, he's going to try and make
you laugh," North said. "He's not intimidated
by someone. That's just the way he is."
THOUGH MESKO PLANS to play foot-
ball at the professional level, he has always
entertained the idea of entering the business
world as well. He graduated with "high dis-
tinction" from the Ross School of Business last
year, and this May he will complete his Masters
in Sport Management.
From an early age, Mesko's mother worked
See MESKO, Page 8B
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