Luckiest All-Star
P/K Zoltan Mesko
P/K Zoltan Mesko
Midwest Recruiting Analyst
Posted Jan 10, 2005
Chris Pool,

San Antonio - If you think Zoltan Mesko hit the jackpot by being invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, you should here him tell the story of how he’s just lucky to be in this country. Mesko moved to the United States from Romania when he was 11-years old.

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is played in San Antonio, Texas., at the Alamodome on Jan. 15, 2005, and broadcast nationally on NBC at 1 p.m., Eastern. is a sponsor, the official selection partner and exclusive on-line partner of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the associated U.S. Army Combine for underclassmen.

“We hit the lottery when I was 11-years old,” said Mesko. “The Romanian government issued green cards to 55,000 Romanians so they could go to the United States.

“I remember my dad running into our living room as my mom and I were watching television. He was just jumping up and down screaming with an envelope in his hand.

“You have to realize that the odds of getting one of these green cards were extremely small. There are 40 million people in Romania.”

Mesko reminded all citizens of the Unites States just how lucky we are and how good we have it.

“My mom and dad were engineers and they were making $100 a month.” Mesko said. “Oh, and by the way, gas in Romania is about $8 a gallon.”

Zoltan in Hungarian means King and Mesko felt like one until he hit New York City.

“Romanians think of the United States as this paradise where everything is shiny and sparkling.

“When I moved to the United States, we lived in an apartment in Queens. I was like, is this it?

“I had to start all over again. I didn’t speak any English and I learned to speak the language by watching television and going to school.

“I remember sitting in our apartment watching this T.V. station and three days later I found out that I was watching a Spanish channel. I was learning the wrong language.” Mesko said laughing.

Mesko moved from New York City to Euclid, Ohio and that’s where he spent his elementary years. Zoltan was a very good soccer player in Romania and he continued to play that sport in Ohio.

“I led my team in scoring during the 7th, 8th and 9th grades and I decided that I was done with soccer and I wanted to try something else.” Mesko said.

“I realized that if I played football, I’d be able to get a scholarship and get my college paid for.”

Mesko kicked on the varsity at Twinsburg, Ohio the past three seasons. As a junior, he handled all the kicking and punting duties. As a junior, Zoltan was 11-of-14 in field goals with a long of 47-yards and he had a punting average of 46 yards.

Mesko has an incredibly strong leg. He kicked three straight 62-yard field goals in practice and his hang-time on punts was 5.2 seconds. Not bad seeing that professional punters average 4.7 hang-time on their punts.

In the beginning, Mesko found that kickers and punters aren’t at the top of the college recruiting wish list but that changed after he camped at Michigan this past summer.

“Bowling Green and Kent State were the first two schools to offer me a scholarship,” Mesko said.

“I camped at Michigan and they didn’t offer me a scholarship right away but Coach (Lloyd) Carr finally called with the good news.

“When Michigan offered, I was ecstatic. I committed to Michigan and I’ve never looked back. Michigan is one of the top football programs in the country and the academics are very good at Michigan as well.”

Mesko quickly found out that when he hit the lottery for the 2nd time in his life by receiving a scholarship offer from Michigan that his recruitment was far from over.

“It was quite amazing. Michigan offers me and the next thing I know, Ohio State and USC offer me scholarships.

“My commitment to Michigan is solid. I’m not looking at any other schools. I feel that it’s a great honor to wear the Michigan uniform and I’m grateful to Coach Carr for giving me that opportunity.”

From an 11-year old boy who played soccer in Romania to a U.S. Army All-American. How did Mesko feel when he walked through the front doors of his hotel in San Antonio?

“It’s an overwhelming experience really,” said Mesko. “It’s an honor to be considered an Army All-American. I consider this a privilege and I’m grateful to the Army for giving me this honor. I feel like I won the lottery again.”

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