These 3 Kalamazoo Natives Are Bringing College Football Trophies Home
Once you reach a certain age in life as an athlete, sports are no longer about learning, making friends, and having fun. Every practice, team meeting, film session, and game is all about one thing, winning. The more you win the happier you are, the better you are, and the more looks you receive from college scouts. That's the path that these four football stars from Kalamazoo have done. No matter the level of competition they have shown that Kalamazoo has the athletic talent to compete with anyone.
First, Congratulations to these young men who are defying odds and playing college sports, and some of them even at the Division I level. It's not easy to one be good enough to play at any college level and then to balance classes, practice, games, a social life, a spouse, a job, and everything else that comes with being a college student. All the work that these student-athletes put in, is for one thing, a post season victory. In football, its different by divisions, but either way trophies will be hoisted. These men didn't win for themselves, they won for Kalamazoo. When asked about Kalamazoo and what it means to them, they had a lot to say.
Competing in a sport and remembering where you came from is something important to every athlete, you're a role model to others back home. When asked what role being from Kalamazoo has played the boys had plenty to say. Zonterio Weekley, a senior at Western Michigan University said:
I love being from the Zoo. I grew up in a single parent household with my mom, three older sisters, and three cousins. I was raised in the hood but my mom and sisters had an emphasis on keeping me out of the streets, especially since I’d get in a lot of trouble when I was younger. I was placed in advanced classes and sports since I was six years old, so they made it their responsibility to guide and take care of me, to not let me ruin the potential they saw in me and I love & appreciate them more than words can ever express for that.
Junior Eric Wenzel added:
Being from Kalamazoo I have always grown up a WMU fan. I remember going to games every week as a young kid. The same hills that we run sprints on I grew up playing football with my friends. Knowing the perspective of a young bronco fan has definitely changed my outlook on being a student athlete. It motivates me to want to be better and to give back to the same community I grew up in. There are so many great people and businesses who support WMU athletics.
Faithful to Football
Football isn't a sport for everyone, some find it too rough or some just aren't skilled enough to hang with the rest of their age group. There are a select few that rise to the occasion and continue their football careers past high school. When asked about their love for the game they showed an overflow of emotions. Zonterio said:
My dad forced me to start playing football when I was six years old. I won’t lie I had a love for tennis and tee ball all that time. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school where I started taking football seriously. I was getting extra workouts in the weight room and doing field work with my friends Xavier, Thomas, Devond, Mai’er, and Wilmon every single day. We got a lot of backlash from the upperclassmen saying that we were “try-hards”, “sorry”, and “sucked” but it didn’t deter us, just made us work even harder.
Taking It To Another Level
I got my chance to start on Varsity my junior year after beating a senior out for the spot. I balled that year and was invited to the Nike Opening Regional, was All-Conference, and began receiving letters from college recruits. My senior year I had another solid season and began receiving offers at the end of the season.
My most notable 3 offers came from the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, and Valparaiso University. I ended up committing to WMU since it was in my hometown and it was something a Kzoo great did before me, Greg Jennings.
Freshman at City College of San Francisco, Devond Dobbins had this to say about his football journey:
[It] started in 7th grade at Linden Grove, it was my first year really playing football, I didn’t even know what position I was best at so they threw me at Defensive line. Transitioning from linden grove to Kalamazoo Central redirected my whole attitude toward the game of football from freshman to junior year until we got a new head coach, Carlton Brewster, who made me fall back in love with football and made me want to continue after high school.
After high school I didn’t have the grades to play college football, so I attended VPSA (Virginia prep sports academy) where I didn’t use any eligibility and where I can get transferable college credits to go to a 4 year. However that wasn’t the case after about the 6th game the prep school closed the football program down, I didn’t know what to do at the time until junior colleges started reaching out on Twitter.
City college of San Francisco reached out to me, I felt a different vibe talking to them than other coaches so I decided to continue football at city. Playing 3 tech and playing DE are so similar and VERY different at the same time but the coaching staff made it easy for me to adapt there.
Winter is for Winning
When playing football, everyone dreams of playing into the winter time games. When it starts to get cold, windy, wet, snowy, and the boys are wearing tights and long sleeves under their jerseys, you know postseason is on it's way. If you're playing during the coldest time of the year, you've got a chance to hoist hardware to the sky after a hard fought victory. Well, these Kalamazoo born players have brought their trophies home. When asked how it felt to win, the boys showed their excitement. Zonterio said:
Winning the QuickLane Bowl game was the most surreal feeling ever. It was only the second bowl game win in WMU history, and we were able to do it in Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions. I was able to play on the same field that greats such as Calvin Johnson, Barry Sanders, Darius Slay, and many more have once walked and played on.
Not only that, but I was able to close out my senior season here at WMU as a champion and a ring owner. The feeling was bittersweet. The perspective I had from playing on the field in front of tens of thousands of fans and playing on an NFL field in general is something I’ll never forget, especially since my end goal is to someday be in the NFL.
Eric shared his bowl win experience:
The 2021 Quicklane bowl was the most fun I’ve had out on the field so far in my career at Western Michigan University. The energy coming from our fans was electric. I remember the sound of the fans on the kickoff return by Sean. I could hear the crowd going crazy before I even turned to see if he got loose. From that point on the crowd and our sideline were feeding off each other and I believe it was a big help to our success on the field.
City of Champions
All season long our goal was to win at Ford field. We got there in a different scenario than we planned, but we still came out as champions in Detroit. It was special to win the second bowl game ever for the university. There’s been so many greats who have came through our program so to accomplish something that few have, it really showed how we came together as one team.
Our team had gone through a lot of ups and down all season but we were able to maintain a neutral mindset and got the job done. Celebrating the win and all the hard work that went into it will be a memory that will last forever.
Devond won a state and national title this year and said:
Moving from Kalamazoo Michigan to San Francisco was the biggest transition of my life I struggled at times but I overcame that adversity. September 4th was my first ever college football game where we played Sierra College at home and demolished them 66-14. At this point I knew at that exact moment we where going to be champions, and that’s exactly what we did.
Capping the perfect season and going 13-0 for the first time ever in school history as well as being the only undefeated JUCO in the US. As the head commissioner on the CCCAA handed us our state trophy he also informed us that we are 2021-22 undefeated NATIONAL champions by unanimous vote.