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Zweifel jumps at Packer tryout offer

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Tom Silverstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 1, 2012
— There’s a chance the Green Bay Packers will have the NCAA’s all-time leading receiver on their roster.

You know, the guy that last year caught 140 passes for 1,915 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior. And in 2009, caught 111 passes for 1,522 yards and 15 touchdowns.


That’s right, Michael Zweifel.


If you haven’t heard of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver from the University of Dubuque, then you’re not alone. He was neither drafted nor offered an undrafted free agent contract over the weekend.


But the Whitewater High School graduate did receive an offer from the Packers to take part in their rookie camp on a tryout basis. He’ll be one of as many as 30 players who could get invites with the hope of filling a couple of spots on the Packers’ 90-man roster.


“I’m just excited to get a chance to play and show what I can do,” Zweifel said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be there. I know the speed of the game will be faster. But I’m just really excited.”


Zweifel was a two-time all-WIAC selection at UW-River Falls, but when his father got the head coaching job at Dubuque, he transferred to be with him. The program was coming off a year in which it finished 2-8 and in last place in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.


Within three years, Stan Zweifel, a former UW-Whitewater assistant and Michael’s father, turned the Division III program completely around. The team finished 9-1 last year and won the league.


Of course, a huge part of the success can be attributed to Michael Zweifel’s dominance. The IIAC does not have the same caliber of talent that the WIAC does and so Zweifel owned the league.


But the Packers recognized that Zweifel tested well in combine-type drills at Iowa State’s pro day.


Zweifel ran the 40-yard dash in a pedestrian 4.56 seconds, but his vertical jump was 35 inches and his time in the three-cone drill was 6.52 seconds. The average time in the three-cone for receivers who were invited to the combine was 6.94.


“He has outstanding quickness,” Stan Zweifel said. “I’m hoping that leads to him having success (at the rookie camp).”


At the Iowa State pro day, the younger Zweifel said several scouts complimented him on the way he ran his routes. He said he spoke with a number of teams and felt that the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings had the most interest.


But neither was willing to sign him to a free-agent contract. Zweifel was well aware that the Packers are loaded with receivers—and signed two more undrafted ones Saturday—but when college scouting director John Dorsey called with a tryout offer, he had nothing else going and took it.


“The Packers might have the best receivers in the NFL,” Stan Zweifel said. “That will be interesting to see if he can go into a pro camp and excel. He was a gym rat and really understands coverages and how to get open, how to separate in man-to-man, finding openings in zones.”


With his 140 catches this season, Zweifel finished with 463, shattering the all-time NCAA record (all divisions) of 436, held by Scott Pingel of Westminster (Mo.). His 5,979 receiving yards rank second behind Pingel.


Though Zweifel beefed up his stats against lesser competition at Dubuque, he proved to be a dominant player at River Falls, setting school records for career receptions (176) and yards (2,030) in just two seasons.


He took a medical redshirt because of a thigh injury after his 111-catch season at Dubuque and then finished up with his 140-catch effort last year. Now, it’s time to find out if he can play with the big boys.


Among the other players being brought in for tryouts during the rookie camp, which begins May 11-13: P Kris Rosholt, UW-Whitewater; LB Eltoro Freeman, Auburn; LB Luke Lambert, Missouri; DL Grant Cook, Arkansas; G Tyler Butzler, UW-Stout; K Dave Nadeau, Minnesota-Duluth; LS Casey Casper, UW-Whitewater; OT Andrew Lambert, Indiana; and DE Jaymar Latchison, New Mexico.



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