WILKES-BARRE — Former King’s College quarterback Zach Whitehead became a prominent name for the Monarch football program during his two-and-a-half years as as starter.
Now he’s making a name for himself in Europe — Germany to be exact.
“I’ve always wanted to play football for as long as I could,” Whitehead said. “The opportunity presented itself.”
The amateur signed a contract with the Regensburg Phoenix of the Bavarian League North football league.
Just two days removed from receiving his diploma for a degree in communications, Whitehead found himself with a passport and a plane ticket to Germany.
But how did he get there?
After his college career ended, the Hockessin, Del., native fielded offers from twenty teams across the globe.
“My options were limited,” said Whitehead. “Because I graduated on May 20, I had two teams who showed significant interest: Regensburg and a team in Northern Germany.”
“But I am still getting contacted by other teams to play.”
Playing as a professional for more than two months, Whitehead has seen a big difference between football in America and Germany.
“Football is not the dominant sport like back home in America,” Whitehead said. “They don’t start playing in Germany until they turn 15 or 16.”
“But the guys who do play in Germany are huge football fans. They stay up really late to watch games during the NFL regular season.”
The defending Mayor’s Cup MVP has slightly modified his playing style as a pro. As King’s quarterback, Whitehead was a lethal offensive weapon both in the pocket and on the ground.
During his college career Whitehead rushed for 842 yards and threw for 6,003 yards. He combined for 67 touchdowns, 41 via the air and 26 rushing.
“I have been more of a pocket passer in Regensburg,” Whitehead said. “But the times I have scrambled outside the pocket, I’ve either thrown on the run or have turned up field.”
Whitehead also sees himself as a teacher thanks to his former offensive coordinator, Skyler Fultz.
“I had a very talented group of coaches that taught me many things, like attacking coverages where the weak spots are, and how to be efficient at a high rate — but I owe a lot to Skyler Fultz,” Whitehead said. “Coach Fultz always put in the extra time with me to really develop me as a player but, more importantly, as a person.”
Since Whitehead made his debut on May 27, Regensburg has amassed a 9-0 record. In six starts, the former Monarch quarterback has thrown 18 touchdowns on the season while rushing for two.
The crowds are a lot smaller than what Whitehead is used to, but they still have a decent following despite not being an extremely popular sport in the country.
Culture and travel
While it certainly isn’t America, the German culture has many things to offer.
“The beer is awesome,” Whitehead said, laughing. “The food is pretty good, too.”
Regensburg is the Bavarian capital of Germany and sits less than an hour outside Munich.
“I’ve made some really good friends on the team,” Whitehead said. “My roommate is actually from Quakertown.”
Whitehead has plans to travel across Europe in August with his roommate and two of his German teammates.
“The camaraderie that I’ve built with my teammates is just like every team I’ve ever played on,” he said.”I play with a great group of guys that make it a lot of fun.”
Whitehead has already traveled to Austria, Salzburg, and Venice, Italy.
“Of course,” Whitehead said. “I miss hearing people speak English but, most importantly, I miss my family, my girlfriend, my friends, and spending my summer back home by the beach.”
Whitehead will be home for two weeks at the end of July and into early August before he boards a plane back to Germany for the playoffs.
Whitehead hasn’t ruled out a possible turn to coaching when he returns stateside but he is keeping his options open.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I get home but I may come back to King’s,” he said. “I have a good relationship with all the coaches, so maybe it will be something in the future.”
Whitehead has gotten to live out a dream that not many people can say they’ve done as a young person in their early 20s.
“Playing football in Germany has been a fantastic opportunity and I’m very thankful for everyone who has encouraged me to pursue my dreams.” Whitehead said. “But being able to travel Europe is something even more incredible and I’m lucky and excited to do it.”
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes