TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka native Ty Zentner is NFL bound.
The Shawnee Heights and K-State graduate signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles after the NFL Draft.
“It is crazy, kind of hasn’t really set in yet,” Zentner said.
Students, parents and staff at Shawnee Heights High School knew Zentner was a special athlete. However, they knew him as a soccer player. He was a goalkeeper, more specifically.
“He really was looking at playing soccer in college,” Ty’s mom, Sunni Zentner, said.
Before his senior year of high school, Ty’s friends pitched an idea.
“They would always talk to him and they’d say ‘Hey Ty. Come out. Be a part of the football team,'” Shawnee Heights head football coach Jason Swift said.
Mom wasn’t so sure.
“I was like, ‘That’s going to get in the way of soccer,'” Sunni said.
Coach Swift, with the help of Ty’s group of buddies, convinced the Zentner family and the soccer coach he could do both sports.
“I said, ‘Hey, let’s focus on soccer, but on the side let’s kick,'” Swift said.
Kicking footballs is no longer a side gig for Zentner.
He got a phone call on Saturday, April 29, that he’ll never forget.
“He was just like ‘The deal’s with the Eagles,'” Sunni said. “My heart just erupted for him to see his hard work pay off.”
Tears rolled down faces in the Zentner house that day.
“[The tears] haven’t stopped,” Ty’s father, Arlen Zentner, said.
Of course, he didn’t go from goalie to NFL punter over night. First came that senior year of high school. Then, two years at Butler Community College and four with the Wildcats in Manhattan.
“I’m super thankful to be able to stay in Kansas this whole time and just continue to develop into the person I am,” Ty said.
Coach Swift says his accomplishments allow current Thunderbird student-athletes to dream.
“We tell the kids, ‘Hey, Ty was just like you. He was sitting in this classroom,'” Swift said. “He was in this weight room. He played these sports. He did the same thing and look where he is now.”
Ty’s still a Topeka kid at heart.
“There’s so many great athletes that came out of Topeka, so just to be another one of those people is awesome and I just hope I can continue to make Topeka proud,” Zentner said.