• My Scores
  • NFL
  • MLB
  • Golf
2016 NFL DRAFT
player photo

Tom Zbikowski, FS

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 211 | College: Notre Dame
 
Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange
Overview

The classic blue-collar worker, Tom Zbikowski filled a variety of roles for the Irish, especially his most important one -- emotional leader of a young defense.

In what turned into one of the worst seasons ever by a Notre Dame team, he guided a secondary that ranked second in the nation, allowing only 161.58 yards per game in 2007.

Zbikowski, a professional boxer, has worn many hats during his time with the Irish. He has excelled playing inside the box, but has also proven to be a capable punt returner. With his natural hands and nose for the ball, he holds a rare distinction for having scored on an interception return, punt return and fumble return during his career. He has also returned kickoffs and saw action briefly as a tailback during his final campaign.

By the time he hung up his Fighting Irish uniform, the two-time team captain scored seven career touchdowns (three punt returns, two interception returns and two fumble returns). He is tied for most career punt returns for a touchdown in school history (along with Tim Brown, Nick Rassas, Allen Rossum and Ricky Watters), in addition to being tied for first in career fumble returns for a touchdown (Tony Driver).

Zbikowski tied for fifth in interception returns for a touchdown. He holds the school career record for tackles by a defensive back, becoming the seventh player in school annals to register 300 tackles (165 solo). He would go on to start all 48 games he played in at Notre Dame.

At Buffalo Grove High School, Zbikowski earned USA Today first-team All-American honors and was named Chicago Area Player of the Year as a senior by the Chicago Sun-Times. He ranked 11th on the Detroit Free Press Best of the Midwest team, rated 29th on the ESPN list of the nation's top 100 players and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for Illinois.

Zbikowskie was named to the Illinois All-State team by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign News-Gazette. He was selected Great Northwest Defensive Player of the Year by the Pioneer Press, as he set Buffalo Grove career records for points scored (274), touchdowns (45), rushing attempts (406), rushing yards (2,013) and passing attempts (484).

A three-year starter at quarterback and safety who also returned punts and kickoffs, Zbikowski played defensive back in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, making five tackles and breaking up two passes. As a senior in 2002, he threw for 1,382 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 1,287 yards and 23 scores (Buffalo Grove single-season record), adding 41 tackles and three interceptions at safety. He was a sprinter on the school track team, finishing sixth in the 100 meters at the Illinois state prep track championships in 2002. He set eleven school records in track and field, including the 100 meters at 10.4 seconds.

Zbikowski was a nationally-ranked boxer who has competed in the Golden Gloves program since age nine, achieving a 60-13 amateur record. A Silver Gloves national finalist from 1998-2000, he was named Regional Boxer of the Year. He made his professional boxing debut on June 10, 2006, in Madison Square Garden in New York City, knocking out Robert Bell in 49 seconds.

Zbikowski enrolled at Notre Dame in 2003, playing on the scout team as a strong safety after turning down scholarship offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Nebraska and Iowa. He took over strong safety chores in 2004, going on to start his next 48 consecutive games. He ranked fourth on the team with 70 tackles (37 solo), as he caused two fumbles and recovered another for a 75-yard touchdown return, adding 22 yards on an interception return and a pass deflection.

As a sophomore, Zbikowski took over punt return duties, ranking 13th in the nation with 379 yards and two scores on 27 attempts (14-yard average). He returned two interceptions for touchdowns, gaining 136 yards on five interceptions while breaking up four other passes. He caused a fumble and delivered 71 tackles (42 solo) with a sack.

Zbikowski struggled early in 2006 with left shoulder and neck strains that forced him to miss the Stanford clash. He was a Walter Camp All-American and served as one of three team captains, as he totaled 79 tackles (44 solo). He caused a fumble that he recovered for a 25-yard score and deflected two passes. He averaged nine yards on 16 punt returns, including one for a touchdown and had five kickoff returns for a 21.7-yard average.

As a senior, Zbikowski was a Thorpe Award semifinalist. He registered a career-high 80 tackles (42 solo) with a sack, as the team captain caused three fumbles and recovered two others. He picked off two passes and returned 23 punts for 234 yards (10.2-yard average).

In 48 games at Notre Dame, Zbikowski became the seventh player in school annals to record 300 tackles (165 solo) in a career, adding two sacks for minus-18 yards and six stops for losses of 25 yards. He caused seven fumbles and recovered four others, returning two for a total of 100 yards and a pair of scores. He deflected eight passes and intercepted eight others for 199 yards in returns (24.9-yard average) and two touchdowns.

On special teams, he gained 757 yards on 66 punt returns (11.5-yard average), including three touchdowns. He also returned six kickoffs for 97 yards (16.2 avg) and carried three times for no gain.

Analysis

Positives: Has a lean but muscular frame with good shoulder width, thick chest, tight midsection, muscular arms and thick thighs and calves … Best when playing in the short area or front third of the field, doing a nice job of making plays in front of him … Plays with a good motor, showing good urgency closing on the ball … Hard worker in the training room and takes well to hard coaching … Too tight in his hips to be relied upon covering on deep routes, but is a good downhill runner who works hard to keep the action in front of him … Good contact seeker who hits with good pop on contact, but is more of a collision-type that needs to improve his wrap-up technique … Plays smart in the short third of the field, but will struggle to shadow and trail speedy receivers on long patterns … Is an adequate punt returner, but brings better value to special teams with the coverage unit … Gets a little too reckless in pursuit, but when he plays at an even tempo, he is good to sniff out plays along the sideline … Has a good feel for QB indicators and ball flow when he plays within the team concept (tries to make a big splash too often and gets burned) … Best when covering tight ends and backs in the short area and is a liability playing in the deep zone (too stiff and lacks a burst out of his turns on long routes) … When he sees the play develop, he is quick to come up and plug gaps in run support (must do a better job using his hands to protect himself from low blocks) … Gets a good break on the ball in front of him once he locates it … Has adequate range to the sideline (poor when making backside plays), but gives good effort in pursuit … Secures the ball well before heading upfield on returns … Has enough agility to get around slower blockers (will get absorbed if he tries to overpower them) in run force, showing good courage and physicality filling the alleys.

Negatives: Looks slower than timed speed indicates, especially when he has to turn, come out of his backpedal and trail the receivers on long routes … Lacks ideal field instincts, as he often bites on play-action, pump fakes and misdirection … Also gets his feet caught from under him trying to come out of his backpedal, showing too much hip stiffness to maintain mirror on the receiver, as he will generally lose a step or two in transition … Gets taken out of his backpedal too early when he bites on running plays rather than stay on his zone assignment … Closes with good urgency, but does take bad angles in pursuit, making him late to the ball … Must be more active using his hands to ward off blocks, as offensive linemen have good success attacking his body … Gets very reckless in his tackle technique and is more of a collision-type who will miss when he takes a side (lacks good wrap-up skills) … Tries to come up with the big play rather than playing in containment … Has just adequate speed and is a liability covering in the deep third of the secondary … Has good hands, but fails to show the leaping ability or timing to get to the throws at their high point (just eight pass deflections in 48 games) … Struggles to get his body turned and look the ball in when trying to compete for jump balls … Does not have the acceleration to recover when receivers get behind him … Must show better plant-and-drive agility, as he gets turned around often and is slow to recover … Likes to play inside the box, but is a marginal blitzer who is too slow in his pursuit to generate backside pressure … Will get engulfed by bigger blockers, as he does not do a good job of using his hands to protect his body, especially from low blocks (has marginal side-stepping agility) … Lacks overall consistency in his play (tries to go for the big play too much to compensate) … Has a noticeable hitch and hesitation when he has to turn sharply.

Compares To: ADAM ARCHULETA-Chicago … Zbikowski spent the last few years living off the reputation he made as a big-play specialist in 2005. He has been anything but that player since, trying to come up with the big play to compensate for his mental blunders and being caught out of position on a regular basis. He is an adequate punt returner, but not of NFL quality. For a player that thrives on big plays, he is caught out of position too often to warrant consideration as an instant starter. However, he could provide good relief in the sub package and on special teams. That is not enough to justify him being an early pick. Is a player who reached his peak in college -- what you see, is what you get.

Career Notes

Holds the school record for tackles by a defensive back with 300, topping the old mark of 228 by safety Jim Browner (1975-78) … Joined Bob Crable (521, 1978-81), Bob Golic (479, 1975-78), Steve Heimkreiter (398, 1975-78), Bob Olson (369, 1967-69), Tony Furjanic (361, 1982-85) and Ross Browner (340, 1973, 1975-77) as the only players in school history to record 300 tackles in a career … Gained 100 yards with two touchdowns on fumble returns, topping the old school record of 93 yards by Gerome Sapp (1999-02) … His 199 yards gained on interception returns placed him fifth on the school's record charts behind Dave Duerson (256, 1979-82), Steve Lawrence (233, 1983-86), Tom Schoen (226, 1965-67), Nick Rassas (220, 1963-65) and Luther Bradley (218, 1973-77 … His three punt returns for touchdowns tied the school career record that he shares with Allen Rossum (1994-96), Ricky Watters (1987-90), Tim Brown (1984-87) and Nick Rassas (1963-65) … Also tied a school season record by returning two interceptions for touchdowns in 2005 … His punt return average of 14.0 yards in 2005 rank fourth on the Irish single-season list … His 136 yards gained on interception returns in 2005 rank third on the school single-season list, topped by Nick Rassas (197 yards in 1965) and Frank Carideo (151 in 1929) … His 83-yard interception return vs. Brigham Young in 2005 was the third-longest runback in school history behind Bobbie Howard (89 yards vs. Louisiana State in 1998) and Dave Duerson (88 vs. Miami (Fla.) in 1981).

2007 Season

Semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back … Lott Trophy quarterfinalist … Served as team captain for the second straight year, starting all 12 contests at strong safety … Led a secondary that allowed 161.58 yards per game, a marked improvement over 2006, when the Irish ranked 60th in that category (203.38 yards per game) … Named to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team … Ranked fifth on the squad with a career-high 80 tackles (42 solos), an eight-yard sack and 1.5 stops for losses of 9 yards … Recovered two fumbles and caused three others … Deflected one pass and gained 41 yards on a pair of interceptions … Returned 23 punts for 234 yards (10.2 avg) … Carried three times for no gain.

2007 Game Analysis

Georgia Tech … Opened the season with four tackles (2 solos), but also lost one yard on a punt return.

Penn State … Had a 47-yard punt return to the 7-yard line to set up an Irish scoring drive in the third quarter … Added six tackles (4 solos) and also caused a pair of fumbles.

Michigan … Returned three punts for 26 yards, as he also totaled eight tackles (5 solos).

Michigan State … Registered five tackles, including a pair of third-down stops.

Purdue … Picked off a pass for a 2-yard loss, as he posted seven solo tackles.

UCLA … Caused a fumble on an 8-yard sack that the Irish recovered at the UCLA 1-yard line, leading to a Notre Dame field goal … Had five tackles (2 solos).

Boston College … Gained 34 yards on three punt returns, deflected a pass and came up with six hits (3 solos)..

Southern California … Delivered a season-high ten tackles (5 solos) and returned a punt 10 yards.

Navy … Picked up 37 yards on two punt returns and matched his season high with ten tackles (3 solos).

Air Force … Recovered a fumble and was in on five stops (4 assists).

Duke … Took several snaps at quarterback, rushing three times for no gain … Made five tackles and assisted on a stop behind the line of scrimmage.

Stanford … Closed out his career with a 43-yard interception return, 64 yards on four punt returns and nine tackles (6 solos).

2006 Season

All-American second-team choice by the Walter Camp Foundation, adding third-team honors from the Associated Press … Served as one of three team captains … Started twelve games at strong safety, sitting out the Stanford clash after he suffered left shoulder and neck strains vs. Purdue … Still managed to finish third on the team with 79 tackles (44 solos) … Had one stop behind the line of scrimmage and two quarterback pressures … Had a fumble recovery that he advanced 25 yards for a touchdown and forced one fumble … Credited with two pass deflections … Ranked 40th in the nation with 16 punt returns for 144 yards (9.0-yard average) and a touchdown, adding 107 yards on five kickoff returns (21.4 avg).

2006 Game Analysis

Led the defense with eight tackles at Georgia Tech including one tackle for loss … Paced the secondary and was second on the team with seven stops vs. Penn State, as he forced a fumble and returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown vs. the Nittany Lions … Produced eight tackles vs. Michigan and notched seven tackles vs. Michigan State, with one pass breakup and returned one punt 25 yards … Tallied a career-high 14 tackles vs. Navy and ranked second on the team with seven tackles vs. North Carolina, as he returned three punts for 69 yards vs. the Tar Heels including a 52-yarder for a touchdown, his third career punt return for a score … Credited with five tackles vs. Southern California and returned five kickoffs for 107 yards with a long of 28 vs. the Trojans … Ranked second on the team with 10 tackles, seven solo, and a pass break-up vs. Louisiana State in the Sugar Bowl.

2005 Season

All-American third-team choice by the Associated Press … One of four recipients of the Nick Pietrosante Award, presented to the Notre Dame player who best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride shown by the late Irish All-American fullback … Accounted for four touchdowns on returns (two interception returns and two punt returns) … Started all 12 games at strong safety, ranking fourth on the team with 71 tackles (42 solos) and a team-best five interceptions for 136 yards in returns (27.2-yard average), including two scores … Ranked 13th in the nation with 27 punt returns for 379 yards (14.0-yard average) and two touchdowns … Lost 10 yards on a kickoff return, as he registered a 10-yard sack with a forced fumble and four pass deflections.

2005 Game Analysis

Credited with one tackle vs. Stanford in addition to returning six punts for 34 yards vs. the Cardinal … Made two tackles and returned three punts for 22 yards vs. Syracuse … Added five tackles (two solos) and intercepted a pass in the win over Navy … Had a huge game vs. Tennessee, returning a punt for a score (78 yards) and an interception for a touchdown (33 yards) while making nine tackles and registering a quarterback sack (10 yards) … Returned an intercepted pass 83 yards for a TD to seal Notre Dame's 49-23 win over BYU, as he had eight tackles (four solos) and returned two punts for 15 yards vs. the Cougars … Returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown vs. Southern California, breaking three tackles on the way to giving the Irish a 21-14 lead in the second quarter, as he also made six tackles (four solos) vs. the Trojans … Had four tackles (three solos) in the win at Purdue … Made three tackles (all solos) and broke up two passes vs. Washington, as he returned two punts for 31 yards (a 15.5-yard average), including a 25-yard return … Posted seven tackles (five solos) and forced a fumble vs. Michigan State … Made a crucial interception of a Michigan pass deep in Notre Dame territory to end a Wolverine scoring threat in the second period of the 17-10 Irish win … Totaled eight tackles (three solos), intercepted a pass and broke up a pass in the season-opening 42-21 win at Pittsburgh … Added nine tackles (eight solos), intercepted a pass and broke up a pass at Michigan, as he also returned two punts for 42 yards with a long of 23 yards … Registered nine tackles (four solos) vs. Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

2004 Season

Took over at strong safety, starting all 12 games … Recorded 70 tackles (37 solo) with 2.5 stops for losses of five yards and two forced fumbles … Returned a fumble recovery 75 yards for a touchdown and gained 22 yards on an interception return … Also broke up one pass.

2004 Game Analysis

Made his collegiate debut vs. BYU and had five tackles, including 1.5 stops for a loss … Had four tackles vs. Michigan and was named Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week following his performance at Michigan State, as he had a team-high nine tackles, forced a fumble and returned it for a 75-yard touchdown, as he also had an interception that he returned for 22 yards to set up another Irish score … Added five solo tackles, one for a loss, vs. Purdue and made a team-leading seven tackles vs. Stanford … Collected nine tackles in the Navy game and posted five stops vs. Boston College … Assisted on seven tackles vs. Tennessee and was in on six tackles vs. Pittsburgh … Registered five stops vs. USC and led the team with seven tackles (five solos) vs. Oregon State in the Insight Bowl.

2003 Season

Did not see playing time as a rookie reserve safety.

BOXING

Zbikowski was a nationally-ranked boxer who has competed in the Golden Gloves program since age nine, achieving a 60-13 amateur record. A Silver Gloves national finalist from 1998-2000, he was named Regional Boxer of the Year. He made his professional boxing debut on June 10, 2006, in Madison Square Garden in New York City, knocking out Robert Bell in 49 seconds.

Injury Report

2006: Sat out the Stanford game (10/07) after he suffered a left shoulder strain and a neck stinger vs. Purdue (9/30).

High School

Attended Buffalo Grove (Arlington Heights, Ill.) High School, playing football for head coach Ray Roberts … Earned USA Today first-team All-American honors and was named Chicago Area Player of the Year as a senior by the Chicago Sun-Times … Ranked 11th on the Detroit Free Press Best of the Midwest team, rated 29th on the ESPN list of the nation's top 100 players and was named Gatorade Player of the Year for Illinois … Named to the Illinois All-State team by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Champaign News-Gazette … Selected Great Northwest Defensive Player of the Year by the Pioneer Press, as he set Buffalo Grove career records for points scored (274), touchdowns (45), rushing attempts (406), rushing yards (2,013) and passing attempts (484) … Three-year starter at quarterback and safety who also returned punts and kickoffs … Played defensive back in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, making five tackles and breaking up two passes … As a senior in 2002, he threw for 1,382 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 1,287 yards and 23 scores (Buffalo Grove single-season record), adding 41 tackles and three interceptions at safety … Was a sprinter on the school track team, finishing sixth in the 100 meters at the Illinois state prep track championships in 2002 … Set eleven school records in track and field, including the 100 meters at 10.4 seconds.

Personal

Enrolled in graduate studies … Graduated in May 2007 from the College of Arts and Letters, with degrees in Sociology and Computer Applications … Earned a 3.0 grade-point average in the 2006 spring semester … Sister, Kristen, played softball at Ohio University … Born Thomas Michael Zbikowski on 5/22/85 in Park Ridge, Illinois … Resides in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

 
 

CBSSports.com Shop

Fantasy Games
 
 
2016 Super Bowl
Super Bowl