This former member of the Secret Society was an outstanding strong safety for the Vikings from 1989 to 1991. John was the heart and leader of the great La Jolla defenses that were instrumental in leading the Vikings to the CIF Semifinals in 1990 and the CIF Finals in 1991. John was also an outstanding wide receiver and made numerous big plays on this side of the ball.

The former All-CIF defensive back put together a remarkable senior season accumulating a team leading 462 defensive points. He led all defensive players with 143 tackles, 95 of those unassisted. In addition he intercepted 4 passes, broke up 8 others, caused 3 fumbles, recovered 4 others, recorded 2 sacks and scored one defensive touchdown. On offense he carried the ball 25 times for 167 yards (6.7 per carry) and four touchdowns. As a receiver he caught 17 passes for 433 yards (25.5 per catch) and another 7 touchdowns.

Recruited by UCLA, San Diego State and others, John decided to accept a scholarship to Duke University in North Carolina. Wasting no time upon arriving at the Duke campus John played as a true freshman and was a major contributor to the resurgence of Duke football in the mid 1990ís. During Johnís career at Duke he was asked to play a number of positions including safety, rover and outside linebacker. In 1994 he anchored a Duke defense that was second in the country in turnover margin. His versatility was evident in his ability to create big plays anywhere on the field. During the 1994 season John accounted for six turnovers, recorded 5 sacks and made 16 tackles for a loss. He had four fumble recoveries and scored two defensive touchdowns. For the season John made 100 tackles and earned First Team All-ACC honors.

One of Johnís biggest assets was his ability to change positions from week to week. Depending on the varied offensive schemes that Duke faced in the tough ACC, John would play the position that best helped the defense adjust to the opponentís offensive formations. Against the best throwing teams John would play nickel back and against run oriented opponents John would move to outside linebacker. These game to game adjustments earned John the respect of his coaches and teammates.

Prior to Johnís arrival at Duke, the Blue Devil football program struggled in the ACC. Johnís brought with him a new attitude that his head coach and teammates quickly picked up on. Head coach Fred Goldsmith noted that every time the Duke defense was able to change the momentum of several games with key turnovers, sacks or tackles for a loss it was John who was at the center of the action. His aggressive and freewheeling approach to football was something that the Duke defense had lacked for many years.

John made a decision to challenge himself both athletically and academically at Duke University. After finishing his playing career with the Blue Devils John continued with his studies and earned his degree. Often times athletes will decide to not complete their studies when they no longer have eligibility left. John however stayed in the academic program and earned his degree from one of the finest universities in the nation. Although it was a tremendous challenge, he showed the same determination that he was known for as a player and got the job done in the classroom. 

For bringing a winning attitude and positive mind set to the Duke football program and for his exceptional and unselfish play, the Star Chamber is honored to include John Zuanich in the Star Chamber Gallery of Stars. 


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