|Thursday, January 2
Updated: January 9, 4:42 PM ET
Alone on the corner
By Tom Zbikowski with Wayne Drehs
Special to ESPN.com
I'm playing corner and we're pretty much going to be in straight man-to-man defense. I don't care who you are, when you're playing 1-on-1 man coverage against the best receivers in the country, you're going to get burned.
A thumb injury I suffered the other day in practice isn't going to help much either. It happened on Tuesday, when I was breaking up a pass with my left hand. The ball ricocheted off my thumb and I didn't even realize anything until I want to pull my chinstrap off and the thing popped.
I'm thinking, "This can't be good." It was sort of out of place, so I popped back in. I went out for another play, but then realized I shouldn't be doing this so I came off the field. The trainers iced it and almost instantly, the thumb starting swelling pretty bad. It was huge.
I'm starting to get movement back, but I went to the hospital Wednesday night just to make sure everything is OK and to get a cast so I can knock people around in practice.
The way it is now, I can't jam people. You can't be physical with one hand. But it won't keep me from playing. I don't care. I'll cut it off before I don't play.
The weather down here has been pretty sweet and it's been fun measuring myself next to the other top players in the country. Like I said, everybody gets burned, but I've been able to hold my own.
The best part is that all the guys are cool. I was worried that everybody would have ridiculous egos, but that's not the way it is at all. Everyone is pretty down to earth. And we really want to win.
Most of the guys recognize Chris and I from the diaries and with me, all they want to talk about is my boxing. They want to know who I've fought, what it's like, all that good stuff.
Switching gears to recruiting, not much is new. Only now I change my mind every single day. Two days ago, I thought Notre Dame. Yesterday, I thought Nebraska. Tomorrow, when I watch Iowa in the Orange Bowl, I know I'm going to want to go there. It switches every single day.
I know Chris Leak is planning on announcing his decision on Sunday, but I'm nowhere near being ready. I could go all the way to signing day, Feb. 5, or I could decide sooner. It all depends on what transpires in the next couple weeks.
When I visited Nebraska a couple weeks ago, school was not in session. But it allowed me to spend some extra time hanging around the football players. We didn't really do anything special -- went to eat a few times and I watched them practice for the Independence Bowl, but that was about it.
The Holidays were pretty low key. I play Santa Claus for my family and while I was doing it this year, I couldn't help but think it might be one of the last times I get to play the part for a long while. Hopefully next year, I'll be headed for a bowl game. And hopefully after that, well, who knows.
There haven't been any home visits for awhile, but I got this great Fed Ex package here in San Antonio from the Iowa coaching staff. Each one of them penned a letter wishing me good luck in Sunday's game and reminding me to watch them in the Orange Bowl.
Tom Zbikowski: Well, Virginia hasn't been on my Top 5 for quite awhile. It's a great school and I really liked their coaching staff, but in the long run, decided it just wasn't for me.
Hey Tommy, I am a fellow senior at a school near by,(not Prospect), and reading your diaries has me wondering how you do it. This is a lot for a high school kid to go through. I was wondering if the bowl games are going to have an effect on your decision.
Tom Zbikowski: Honestly, I look at it as the same as the regular season. I look at the younger kids and if they're good, maybe that would play a role in my decision. But not really who wins and looses. To be honest, people make too much of the effect a win or a loss in a bowl game has on recruiting. It isn't that big of a deal. If you're there, that's an honor in itself.
Tommy, I would like to know exactly what schools are looking at you for playing QB and what schools are looking at you for playing DB. Would you sacrifice playing QB to end up going to the top school on your list?
Tom Zbikowski: Nebraska is looking at me as a quarterback. Iowa has said I could play either quarterback or defensive back. Notre Dame, Arizona State and Boston College are all looking at me as a defensive back. As for what I would prefer to play in college, that changes pretty much every week with where I want to go. I truly don't know yet.
Tom, how has the recruiting process taken a toll on your free time and the ability to lead a normal life as a high school student?
Tom Zbikowski: It really hasn't changed my high school life at all. I still do the same things I did before this year. The big key is answering the calls when you have the time. If I'm busy, if I have homework or don't want to talk, I won't answer the phone. It's not like I go out of my way to work recruiting into my life. And that's what every coach tells you -- do it on your time so it isn't a hassle. And that's made it a lot easier. As for being noticed more, I don't buy into all that. Sure it gives me a smile when somebody knows who I am, but I don't put much stock into it meaning anything.
Let's get to an important question: What number do you want to wear in college? Are you going to stay with #9? Is there any reason you picked that number, or whatever number you choose? Thanks, and good luck
Tom Zbikowski: I'm going to want No. 9 no matter what position I play. But I understand I'm an underclassman and if I don't get it, it's not that big of a deal. I'll just go with a different number. As for why I chose No. 9, because of Jim McMahon, the punky QB from the Bears.
Send in your questions and Tom will answer a few in his next diary update.
ESPN.com is following quarterback/defensive back Tom Zbikowski on his journey from high school to the college ranks. Zbikowski is writing a diary about his recruitment, and we will file regular reports on the recruiting process through Signing Day on Feb. 5, 2003.