Otto Zaccardo | Syracuse University – RB/ST | Rugby – Wing
Twitter: @ottozone321 | Instagram @29otto
Q: Tell us about your sports career and what the recruiting/scouting process was like?
A: My sports career has been an uphill battle that I have always embraced. The most important thing in the recruiting and scouting process is to develop a thick skin toward criticism and to always be improving as an athlete.
Q: Did you play in college and if so, who did you play for? What was your experience like?
A: I played football at Syracuse University. Syracuse was the only school that gave me the opportunity to compete at the highest level in athletics. I was originally a walk-on and thanks to my work ethics, toughness and performance was able to earn a full scholarship. It was a great experience and allowed me to accomplish my childhood dream of playing D1 football.
My father has been the most positive and influential person in my life without a doubt. I owe a lot of my athletic success to him and his advice.
Q: What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your sports career so far?
A: Starting out as a kid with no stars and no scholarship offers and working my way to be on full scholarship, play in a bowl game, earn a spot on national rankings/watchlists and then be able to continue as a professional athlete after college. I am living my dream and hope to accomplish much more.
Q: When did you first realize you would be a good rugby player?
A: Others have always told me it would be a good fit, but it wasn’t until my 3rd game when I realized that I could have a lot of success in rugby.
Q: How has your transition from football to rugby been?
A: It’s always difficult to learn something new, but I have had great teammates and coaches who have made learning rugby very rewarding. I always love new challenges.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of learning and playing rugby?
A: Initially it was the level of conditioning needed to play a full game, now I am focused on developing the skills and rugby IQ needed to compete against the best in the world.
Q: What do you consider to be one of the more important things you learned from your coach(es)?
A: No one is going to give you anything and you will oftentimes have to make your own path to accomplish your goals.
Q: What has been one of the most memorable plays of your career at any level?
A: My first tackle against Florida State will always be memorable to me because it was the first time it really clicked that I was living my dream.
Q: Who was the best player you played against anytime during your career?
A: I didn’t play defense, but Lamar Jackson was quite a spectacle when we played him while he was at Louisville.
Q: What were your thoughts and expectations when you attended the National Scouting Combine?
A: It was an opportunity that I needed to take advantage of.
Q: Are you involved in mentoring, a charity or do you “give back” or ”pay it forward” in your community?
A: I have taught and coached kids at various ages for sports clinics and camps. I have also worked with multiple groups to create resources and education to prevent domestic violence.
Q: If you could make a positive impact on all of society what would it be and why?
A: Help people learn how to take care of their bodies and minds because I believe that the issues of mental and physical health are root causes for a lot of tragedies in society.
Q: Who is or has been the most influential person in your life?
A: My father has been the most positive and influential person in my life without a doubt. I owe a lot of my athletic success to him and his advice.
Q: What advice would you give athletes looking to continue their career at “the next level”?
A: Ask yourself if you truly love the work involved with your sport. Every level that you regress to will have more world than the previous and if you are already struggling with the workload at your current level than you will have to amp up your work ethic if you want to continue a career in athletics and “the next level”. It is also extremely important to keep faith that if you do the right things the right things will happen.