DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) While he was not a starter at linebacker during his red shirt freshman season at Illinois State, Freeport grad Zeke Vandenburgh still played in every game for the Redbirds, showing head coach Brock Spack that he was worthy of a bigger role in 2019.
The 2016 first team All-NIC-10 linebacker was rewarded and was on the field to take on NIU in Saturday's season opening loss.
Vandenburgh recorded five tackles, three by himself, and added a half sack and a half tackle for a loss.
This year, the former Pretzel star is being asked to be a leader of the defensive unit, something he was accustomed to while at Freeport where he was the MVP of the defense his junior and senior seasons.
Vandenburgh says it was good to be back in the stateline.
"I feel like I'm playing in my backyard," said Vandenburgh. "I've been on this field a bunch of times in high school so it was a lot of fun to be in front of people in the 815. I like to think of myself as a confident player. I wanted to be out there the first week I was there. I feel like now that I've got the opportunity, I'm just trying to take advantage of it and just do what's best for the team."