Syracuse football offensive guard Zack Chibane (center) will make his 36th consecutive start when the Orange plays at 7 p.m. Saturday at Missouri.
Syracuse University offensive lineman Zack Chibane watched the entire National Football Draft this past week without hearing his name called. But his shot at the NFL just may happen right in his backyard. Zack will attend rookie camp with the Buffalo Bills in two weeks. And if all goes well, he will be able to continue playing football in upstate New York.
â€œI knew they hadnâ€™t drafted any (linemen),â€ Chibane told Syracuse.com. â€œIt was a good situation. I told my agent that if they donâ€™t, thatâ€™s where I want to go.â€ In Buffalo, Chibane would be joining his former head coach, Doug Marrone and former offensive Nathaniel Hackett, who should have some familiarity with his play. â€œIâ€™d be lying if I said that didnâ€™t have anything to do with it,â€ Chibane said. â€œYou spend time for four years with a coaches and staff. I love Coach Marrone and Coach Hackett. … It was a big factor, but I tried to take the coaching staff out of the equation and just look at the numbers. It seemed like the best opportunity.â€
In December, Zack spoke gave an interview to the blog, Diversity In Sports. â€œIf you look at me you think Iâ€™m just a regular, white, Christian kid whoâ€™s Irish or German or something,â€ Chibane said. Chibaneâ€™s father is an Algerian Muslim. But when Zack was younger, he often held back from telling people he was Muslim.
â€œItâ€™s embarrassing to admit now, but I used to be kind of embarrassed when my father would come because he has an accent,â€ Chibane told the blog. â€œNow, I couldnâ€™t be more proud of it, but back then when things like were going on, I was like â€˜man, I donâ€™t want people to think that I have the same beliefs as them because the environment was a little bit more hostile.â€ Now a days Iâ€™m real about it; Iâ€™ll tell anybody,â€ Chibane said. â€œI find it as an opportunity for myself to spread knowledge to other people that Islam is a peaceful religion, just as peaceful as the other three.â€
Chibane related his struggles with balancing the demands of school, football, and Islam, including trying to fast during training camp. â€œObviously you canâ€™t go without food or water during camp when we have two practices a day,â€ Chibane said. â€œI wasnâ€™t able to fast and I tried to do it on weekends and make up for it, but itâ€™s real tough. If we have one day off from camp during August or September, you know you want to be getting all the fluids you can in your body.â€
But it has been helpful having a fellow Muslim teammate, Siriki Diabate. â€œHim and I talk about things sometimes, but I donâ€™t really feel like I need too much support from other people,â€ Chibane said. â€œI know where I stand; I know things about the religion and Iâ€™m able to provide knowledge for people and if they donâ€™t want to hear it, itâ€™s their own choice.â€
While Chibane doesnâ€™t consider himself a very religious person, he expressed a desire to study Islam further after graduation. â€œI want to live over there for a little while and study, maybe, if I have some time,â€ Chibane said. â€œI donâ€™t know, we will see what happens.â€ But an NFL career just may delay that a bit.