Zen Michalski has been one of Louisville football’s most vocal recruiting leaders for the 2021 class; the offensive tackle from Floyds Knobs, IN was the fourth prospect to commit to Head Coach Scott Satterfield and the staff. Michalski has seen a significant surge in recruiting rankings and drawn interest from a number of power five programs, but his journey is a unique one, filled with position switches and growth spurts. A prospect who has busted on to the scene, Michalski has no trouble staying humble and driven.
Michalski found his calling on the offensive line, but it wasn’t until last season that he began playing the position. When he started suiting up for Floyd Central High School, he found himself on the defensive side of the ball, playing in a variety of roles. That was until he hit a five-inch growth spurt during his sophomore season, prompting his switch from being an interior defensive lineman to an edge rusher. The 6-foot-4 Michalski was even asked to line up at tight end in a select number of formations. However, things changed before the 2019 season and Michalski fell in love.
After going from 185 to 240 lbs, the 6-foot-6 swiss-army knife was put in the trenches once again, but this time as an offensive tackle. From early on, he knew that he had found his calling. “Around the first few practices, I loved hitting people and driving them into the ground”, Michalski explained. Despite being undersized, he made an impact through speed, good footwork and point of attack, and strong-willed determination. Adding a ton of weight in the relatively short amount of time could have been seen as challenging, but Michalski was fond of the process. Throughout the journey as a high school football player, he has grown around seven inches, and added 100 lbs on to his frame.
Michalski’s recruitment blew up in 2020, as he added a slew of big time offers, but the Louisville offer back on March 30th was a game-changer. “It began in Feburary and ran through April; around 25 offers came in that time span, it was crazy because I never expected all of it,” he recalled. Less than a month later, the lineman pledged his commitment to the Cardinals. Satterfield and company left a lasting impression on the 3-star offensive tackle. “They were awesome, made me feel like family and never pressured me. I have a close relationship with Coach (Pete) Thomas and Coach (Dwayne) Ledford for sure. They just make me feel like I am one of their own and that they truly care about me.” Michalski not only liked the relationships, but the culture as well. “They are a family and give everything they can to get better every day as a program.”
Currently rated as the 651st-best prospect in the country and the 52nd-best offensive tackle (247Sports Composite), programs like Florida State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, and others have tried to pull Michalski away from his hometown team. Much to Louisville fans’ delight, he emphatically proclaimed, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Since his pledge, Michalski has been one of top recruiters in the class, alongside Victione Brown, Kani Walker, and others. “This class is a family, most of us haven’t known each other for over a month, let alone met in person, but we already have a strong bond. It feels like I have been playing with these guys for years. We establish these relationships before people even commit because our coaches want very specific people, so we recruit those players and make solid connections,” he explained.
Michalski’s work ethic, perseverance, selflessness, and patience all embody the Louisville football mindset. He strives to be the hometown hero, but quickly stresses that he will do whatever need be for the team. “I feel like I’m representing the people that supported me where I grew up in; it’s a great feeling, but also comes with lot of pressure to not let people down. With that being said, the program is getting ready to change for good; we are taking over the ACC.” His mindset parallels that of the other commits as well. On a foundation of love, passion, and genuineness, Michalski is eager to leave his mark at the University of Louisville.