Polzine’s improved play rounds out fantasy season
By Eric Peterson
The Forum 10/17/97
At 5 feet, 11 inches tall and 210 pounds, Cory Polzine wouldn’t have what you would consider prototypical size for a nose guard.

But that’s the position Polzine attempted to play when he started his college football career at Augustana College five years ago.

"My football career has been quite a journey," Polzine said, preparing for Concordia’s showdown with St. John’s Saturday at Jake Christiansen Stadium.

Polzine, now the Cobbers’ starting middle linebacker, fits his current role to a T. He’s got both the size and the strength to play the middle linebacker position.

And he’s got the look.

The Worthington, Minn., product has long hair that falls down over his eyes and he sports a bandage on his chin to cover a cut.

"I don’t think the coaches like it too much," Polzine joked of his hair length.

But one thing the coaches have been pleased with is Polzine’s play. Polzine stands third on the Cobbers’ defense with 34 total tackles.

Concordia coach Jim Christopherson said Polzine is one of the most improved players on the team.

"He’s one of our most important players on defense," Christopherson said. "He’s been a real pleasant surprise this year. He saw what he needed to work on and improve from last year, and he did it."

The biggest thing Polzine needed to improve was his pass defense. Last year was Polzine’s first year playing linebacker after spending his first three years of college on the defensive line. But Christopherson said Polzine’s pass defense has been noticeably better this year.

"I love playing middle linebacker," Polzine said. "It fits my size and I like to run around and hit people. I enjoy being involved in both phases of the game – pass defense and run defense."

And although things didn’t work out at Augustana for Polzine, he said he learned some valuable lessons during his one redshirt season with the Vikings. While there, he had an opportunity to play with some great athletes.

The first teammate that popped into Polzine’s mind was former Augustana middle linebacker Bryan Schwartz, who now starts at middle linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"The guy was big, the guy was fast and he was intense," Polzine said.

Polzine said the one thing he took away from watching Schwartz play was his strong work ethic.

That work ethic has helped Polzine make himself a strong player. The one thing Polzine didn’t have to learn when he moved to linebacker from the defensive line is stopping the run. Christopherson said that is one thing Polzine could always do.

"No one plays the run better than Cory Polzine," Christopherson said.

Polzine said his days at nose guard have served him well. He sees a lot of similarities between playing middle linebacker and playing in the middle of the defensive line.

"You play over the center a lot, except you’re just a few yards back" Polzine said. "Then you just read the center and try and use your quickness."

Polzine said when he transferred to Concordia from Augustana it was a new beginning.

However, a knee injury, which he suffered two seasons ago, gave him a second fresh start. After that injury, Polzine moved to linebacker. Plus, he gained back the year of eligibility he lost by going to Augustana with the medical redshirt.

"That gave me time to look back and gave me a whole different attitude about football," Polzine said. "It taught me I needed to have fun in the present because your season can end in a hurry with just one injury. I don’t take anything for granted."

Away from the field, Polzine said he likes to keep to himself. This summer, he lived at his family’s cabin in the Black Hills near Custer, S.D., and worked in a campground, That gave him the perfect opportunity to hunt and fish, his two favorite hobbies.

Polzine said because the campground he worked at was a few miles away from the cabin, sometimes he found himself sleeping in his car if he ended up working too late, which suited Polzine just fine.

"I have more of a laid-back personality," Polzine said. "I kind of like to do my own thing."

1997 Cobber Football