Friday, Aug. 27, 1999
BY CHRIS VARIAS
Zach Novak caps his bruising tackles with the ''woo move.'' He makes the hit, arises, cocks his arms in front of his head at a 90-degree angle and lets out a joyful ''woo'' that can be heard from the press box.
''I'm really intense during games,'' Novak said. ''I've had referees come up to me and tell me to take it easy, that it's not Sunday afternoon.''
Sounds like the antics of just another dumb defensive end. Only this defensive end is not so dumb. Novak is ranked 11th in his class at Wyoming. and has a 4.41 GPA, thanks to the weighted credit of advanced class work.
Novak is smart enough to know that he may never have the chance to do the woo move on a Sunday afternoon. So beyond today's tackles for losses, he envisions a career in biomedical engineering.
''I know I'm not going to play football forever,'' he said. ''I like medicine.''
The NFL may never call, but football is providing Novak with the inroads to great study opportunities. Schools expressing interest include Stanford, Duke, and most of the Ivy League.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior also plays tight end. Last season he caught 13 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He said he's used more for blocking than catching.
''I'll get a few passes a game, maybe one or two. It would be nice to get more, but I'm happy with my role. It works out well,'' he said.
He has been an offensive and defensive starter for the Cowboys since his sophomore year. But it's his play as a defensive end that has colleges calling. And wooing.
''I think that when people play football they need to do it with enthusiasm,'' he said. ''It brings out the best in you.''
Thus, the woo move.
He has never been penalized for excessive celebration, he said, but his teammates laugh at his strange battle cry.
''They make fun of me when they hear it when we're watching game film. There'll be a play of me making a tackle and you'll hear a 'woo' and the room will bust out laughing.''
But it's catching on. Novak said there he has heard a lot of woos out of his teammates during August practices.
Novak is is ready for the next level as a player and a student. Whether colleges are ready for the woo move is another issue.