HOOS LIFE: Olamide Zaccheaus: A Man of the People


HOOS LIFE: Olamide Zaccheaus: A Man of the People
  1. HOOS LIFE: Olamide Zaccheaus: A Man of the People
    virginiasports.com
    This gameday feature on Olamide Zaccheaus appears in today's free gameday…
    American football

Oct. 7, 2017

by Ben Donovan 

For Olamide Zaccheaus, life is not about the things he has but the people he fills it with. Zaccheaus, a junior running back, values the relationships in his life above all else. From his teammates to his mother, they are where he finds himself.

One glance at Zaccheaus’s Twitter timeline shows the support he has for his teammates, both past and present. His Twitter is full of retweets praising former and current teammates. But there is one teammate he supports in a different way. Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell, the former Cavalier running back, and Zaccheaus share a special bond with each other and reflect that in the jersey numbers they wear on the field.

Since coming to UVA, head coach Bronco Mendenhall has instituted a jersey number draft where players select their numbers in an order determined by their peers. Last year Zaccheaus wore number 33 but coming into the year, Zaccheaus knew what number he wanted.

“Over the summer, I realized [Mizzell’s former number] four was going to be open,” Zaccheaus said. “I was watching film one day and saw how much of a player-maker that Smoke was and I thought, ‘I have to be that person in the offense this year.’”

Zaccheaus has stepped into that role perfectly. Mizzell defined the duel-threat running back, both rushing and catching passes out of the backfield. He is currently second on the Cavaliers in rushing yards and leads the team in receptions, accounting for three touchdowns. 

Zaccheaus kept it simple when asked about his relationship with Mizzell.

“Smoke is my dude,” he said.

The respect goes both ways. After graduating last year, Mizzell was signed by the Baltimore Ravens before joining the Chicago Bears. Once reaching the Bears, he had to make a decision about his own number.

“Yeah, he grabbed my old 33 in the NFL,” Zaccheaus said, laughing. “We just switched numbers.”

While his teammates inspire him on the field, the most important relationship in Zaccheaus’s life is his mother, Yimbra Mozimo.

“My mom is my everything,” Zaccheaus said. “My mom plays a huge role in a lot of the things that I do. I come from a single parent household and she has just done an incredible job raising me and my brother.”

Zaccheaus grew up in southern New Jersey, just 15 minutes away and across the bridge from Philadelphia, where he attended Saint Joseph’s Prep. Raised by his mother, Zaccheaus and his brother, Olawole, had an early role model who helped shape their lives.

“She is a strong, strong person,” Olamide said. “She taught me how to work, that is the biggest thing, and I see it throughout the years. She worked so hard to provide for me and my brother and I learned a lot from her.”

His mother has helped to shape his life in even more tangible ways as well. When it came time to decide on what high school to attend, the decision was made easy for him.

“My mom made me go there”, Zaccheaus said. “It was between two schools and we took a visit there one day. I met the high school coach, Coach Infante, and we were sitting in his office and, I’ll never forget, she said, ‘You’re coming here’. That was that.

“She made the right decision for me,” Zaccheaus followed, “I am where I am now because of the decision she made.”

When it came time to choose where he would continue his football career, his mother was right…

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