by C2C Ben Scott, Athletic Media Relations
Senior wide receiver Jonathan Warzeka has established himself as one of the best all-purpose athletes in all of college football. The 2011 preseason Mountain West Conference special teams player of the year, Warzeka is on the watch list for the Paul Horning Award, recognizing outstanding performances by versatile college football players.
Warzeka led the MWC with a 28.7 kickoff return average last season. In the win over CSU, the Lake Elsinore, Calif., native returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the second 100-yard return of his career. He also led Air Force with 18 catches for 406 yards and had 41 carries for 312 yards in 2010. He scored seven touchdowns on the season, four rushing, three receiving and one on a kickoff return.
Q: How did you get started playing football?
A: I think my first flag football game was at age five. I brought home a flyer to my parents, said I wanted to play and haven't looked back since.
Q: Why did you choose to come to the Air Force Academy?
A: Well for one I'm from about an hour north of San Diego and we play every other year in Qualcomm Stadium and I'm a big Chargers fan. So playing there is like a dream come true to me. Playing in that stadium is kind of surreal. And, of course, what the Air Force can offer you afterwards is pretty hard to pass up.
Q: How was the transition from a high school quarterback to a college wide receiver?
A: It took a little time. Obviously hand-eye coordination took a little bit, trying to figure out how to catch a ball, but I think it's worked out for the best.
Q: Do the wide receivers like to hang out together and what do you guys like to do as a group?
A: I'm one of those guys that hangs out with everyone. I hang out with the offense lineman, defensive backs, wide receivers. We just try to make the most of it. It's hard to find some free time up here, but we have fun when we go out.
Q: Did you return kicks in high school or did you start here at the Academy?
A: I returned punts in high school and just started returning kickoffs here
Q: What is the feeling like when you catch a kickoff and there are 11 opposing players running full speed at you?
A: There is nothing like it, having 11 guys running full speed at you. They have a 40-yard head start and you're running full speed right back at them. The adrenaline gets pretty high at that point.
Q: You have returned kicks, caught passes, and carried the ball, what do you like to do best?
A: It's probably not believable, but blocking. We're a run oriented team. Myself and the offensive linemen go back and forth as to who is the better blocker. We jib-jab a little bit, but I have to say blocking is the most fun because you're going up against guys a lot bigger than yourself.
Q: What is your most memorable experience playing at Air Force?
A: Probably the Houston bowl game two years ago. That's when we had the first kickoff return for a touchdown in about 25 years, I think it just really set the tone for last year. We were able to get the Commander-in-Chief's trophy. That was huge for us after having gone eight years without it. So the Houston game and Commander-in-Chief's trophy are probably 1 and 1A.
Q: Who was a big influence in your sports career?
A: Well growing up I always looked up to Walter Payton. I played running back in youth football and I wore number 34, just because he was my idol growing up.
Q: You listed Walter Payton's book as your favorite read, why is that?
A: Well for one it was an easy read and two it's probably the only book I've ever read. No, just kidding. Like I said, he was my role model growing up and to be able to read his autobiography through his eyes and just to see the life experiences he went through was great. He came from pretty much nowhere to become one of the greatest players of all time.
Q: In high school you set the school record in the 100 meters, did you ever think about running track here?
A: I thought about it. Some of the guys on the track team kind of hassle me about. Football takes up most of my time, that's always going to be my true love. I think football is good for me right now.
Q: What are your plans upon graduation?
A: Hopefully I can be an OSI agent. That's the dream goal. We will see where that takes me.