LB Zajaros to Join McMaster Next Season

by Jamie Shinkewski

All-star linebacker Jesse Zajaros has committed to play for the McMaster University Marauders for the upcoming season.

The 20-year-old from Winnipeg led the British Columbia Football Conference with 35 tackles and 10 assisted tackles, and recorded one sack and one forced fumble last season en route to being named to the 2017 C&D Logistics Defensive All-Star Team.

After recording 61 tackles and 12 assisted tackles in 15 games over two seasons with the Broncos, he will head to Hamilton, Ont. to join the 2011 Vanier Cup champions.

“The big thing that brought me that way, first and foremost was, to go live in another province that I’ve never experienced,” Zajaros said. “I grew up in Winnipeg in Manitoba, got my couple years out here in B.C., so McMaster being a program known for a good winning record as well it seemed like the best option for sure.”

Zajaros will join a transitioning Marauders defense. Scott Brady was hired as the new defensive co-ordinator from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. With the two starting outside linebackers graduated, he said he expects strong competition at the position heading into next season.

“Recruiting guys at linebacker was a pretty big need for us and there’s a pretty good opportunity to compete pretty quickly there,” Brady said. “A guy like Jesse who has played junior ball and been very successful there I think you get a chance to add a guy who’s a little more physically mature than somebody coming out of high school. That’s going to give him an opportunity to come in and compete pretty quickly.

“We like how physical he was on film, he’s a guy who’s always hitting chest to chest and knocking guys back when he makes contact with them, which really stood out on film. He has a pretty good feel for how to blitz as well, he’s a pretty physical player which those are a couple of the key pieces we were looking for.”

Zajaros said he has been accepted to the social sciences program and will begin his studies in the fall semester.

"In the long run I'm hoping to become a school counsellor myself. I know in high school I didn’t really know what path I wanted to take so hopefully one day I can give back and help a young guy in my position figure out what he wants to do a little bit earlier," he said.

The Marauders placed third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) division with a 6-2 record last season, but fell to the Laurier Golden Hawks in the OUA semifinal. The Marauders have made the playoffs each season since 2000 and have reached the Vanier Cup three times in the past six seasons, winning their first and only national championship in 2011.

McMaster opens the 2018 season on Aug. 26 against the Guelph Gryphons.