Early on, Zane Gonzalez, last year’s Lou Groza award winner for top college kicker and now a Cleveland Browns player, stood out, since no kids around him growing up shared his peculiar name.
His father picked the unusual first name, Gonzalez, 22, explained in a phone conversation. “I never ran into any other Zane.”
There was also a juxtaposition raised by his last name and his appearance.
“My dad’s side is all Mexican. A lot of people don’t realize, because I’m blond, blue-eyed — they don’t expect the Gonzalez last name,” said the former Arizona State University player. “Whether I’m getting a haircut, or something, they’ll get caught off-guard when they hear the name. It’s unique; I like it.”
Gonzalez’s mother is from Arkansas. His parents separated when he was in the fifth grade and he and his siblings lived with his father, Joseph. Gonzalez has an older brother, Zach, and a younger sister, Skylar. Though his father is fluent in Spanish, Gonzalez doesn’t speak the language.
“I give him a hard time for not teaching me when I was younger,” Gonzalez admitted.
His father did instruct Gonzalez, a Texas native, in something else.
“My dad was a big soccer player growing up,” said Gonzalez. “That was my whole life, too, and my brother’s [too]. We grew up playing soccer all over the Houston area. It was my first love as a sport. I still play to this day, whenever I’m around a soccer ball.”
Because of his interest in soccer, Gonzalez was a latecomer to football. After backing away from competitive club play in high school, he was grateful to the coaches who helped guide him when he made the transition to football after recognizing…
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