Photo courtesy of Dartmouth athletics
Zach Sammartino, out of Dartmouth, is a player to watch as the NFL Draft creeps closer. The versatile offensive lineman saw a lot of action in his final three seasons at Dartmouth and can play multiple positions.
If his last name sounds familiar, then you probably know his great uncle, WWE legend Bruno Sammartino. Zach however, has no plans to follow that legacy. Instead, he wants to fulfill his dream of being in the NFL. At next week’s NFL Draft, that very dream could come to fruition.
“I have really good genes all around,” he said. “My dad and uncle were really big getting me started in lifting and teaching me the right way to go about stuff. I think my genes and my pedigree have definitely helped me get where I am today.”
Sammartino started playing football during his freshman year of high school. He also played basketball, but focused on football for his final two seasons and became a starter as a senior.
“Out of high school, I wasn’t crazy highly-recruited,” Sammartino explained. “Dartmouth was the first (Division I school) to offer me and that was the Friday before my first game. I ended up getting 15 or 16 D-I offers. It came down to Cincinnati and Dartmouth and I ended up going the Ivy League route. I loved the coaches up there and I wanted that education as well.”
Sammartino, who was named to the All-Ivy first-team in 2019, also had a father who played D-II football. He grew up in Pittsburgh where his family had season tickets to see the Steelers play when he was growing up.
Playing 30 games in his final three seasons, Zach was a constant presence on the offensive line for the Big Green.
“It was a lot of fun. We had a really strong team each of those years,” Sammartino said. “We had two nine-win seasons, an eight-win season, won an Ivy League title, and got to play in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park; it was a great experience.”
Going into his fifth-year, Zach was the only starter returning on the offensive line.
“It was a good season. We had everyone coming back except for the other four starters on the offensive line,” Sammartino said. “We’ve always been a pretty run-heavy team. My true senior year, we were All-Ivy League players.
“The biggest question mark was the offensive line,” he added. “It was a great opportunity for me to show my leadership. I got the other four guys ready and taught them what it was like to play college football and what you need to do to be successful. It was really rewarding to see all the offensive linemen come together and be one of the strengths of the team.”
Now getting ready for the draft, Sammartino has been back home in Pittsburgh preparing for the NFL and a possible phone call next weekend.
“I was going to go to my Pro Day, but unfortunately, it got canceled,” Sammartino said. “We did a virtual one and filmed everything and showed all the measurements and I showed the highest (reflective athletic score) of any interior lineman at the (NFL) Combine. I had the best overall score. It went really well for me.”
NFL Dream Come True
Growing up in Pittsburgh with season tickets to the Steelers, it would be special to play for his hometown team. For Sammartino, he just wants to suit up in the NFL.
“We’ve had Steelers season tickets for as long as I can remember, up until I went to school,” Sammartino commented. “It always would be really cool to be on your hometown team. Honestly, it’s been a dream of mine to play in the NFL for as long as I can remember.”
Sammartino plans to watch the draft with his parents and girlfriend in Pittsburgh next week.
“No matter where I’m at, it will be a fantastic experience,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier.”