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Graduation hasn't stopped Ben Zagorski, shown here playing last year, from helping his Quakers try to garner their second-straight Ivy League title. [Andrew Margolies/DP File Photo]

At this time last year, Ivy League defenses had their hands full trying to contain Penn tight end Ben Zagorski, a 6-foot-7, 245-pounder who could block, catch and run.

Zagorski led Quakers receivers in 2000 with seven touchdowns, including a pair at Princeton Stadium that helped the Red and Blue overcome an 18-point deficit to beat the Tigers.

This Homecoming, Princeton will not have to worry about Zagorski on the field. Instead, the Tigers will be concerned with his disciples.

One year removed from a breakthrough senior season, Zagorski is employed by Penn as an offensive assistant coach. He works with the tight ends and the offensive line, using his experience as a former first-team All-Ivy performer to relate to his former teammates.

"It was great to have a relationship as players, and now that he's a coach, I think it's great," Penn tight end Matt Michaleski said. "He was a great player, so everybody knows where he's coming from."

While he coaches, Zagorski is also waiting, hoping for a call from the professional ranks.

There are currently 13 Ivy League alums in the NFL, including former Penn star Jim Finn. Three players who were in the Ivy League last year are now in the NFL, most notably Yale alumnus Eric Johnson, who is playing tight end for the San Francisco 49ers.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Zagorski is not holding his breath for his chance to play on Sunday afternoons.

"I'm trying to work out and get picked up in NFL Europe," Zagorski said. "I'm talking to people as far as prospects, but it's kind of a waiting game. People don't always speak truthfully, you get misled sometimes, but it's definitely possible, and I'd rather do this than something else."

Zagorski does not know if he will stay in football if his plans to play professionally do not work out.

He is, however, working hard to help the Quakers this season, as they drive for a second straight Ivy League championship.

"Having Ben here is definitely helpful," Michaleski said. "We've played against these teams last year and in years past, and he helps me out with everything, gives me little pointers here and there that maybe a regular coach wouldn't be able to point out. It's great having Ben here, and I've learned a lot from him."

While Zagorski might not be a "regular coach," he has certainly learned what a coach's life entails.

"I didn't really see what coaches do [besides] being on the field and teaching you, the behind-the-scenes aspect," Zagorski said. "You don't wake up at 12 for a class -- you work all day. It's a change."

In addition to his duties as a coach, Zagorski is still working hard in his efforts to become a professional player. He does a lot of running and speed drills, catches balls as often as possible and hits the weight room after Penn's practices at Franklin Field.

Zagorski has grown his hair long, and despite a gentle demeanor, still looks as imposing as ever, ready to do considerable damage to any opposing linebackers in his path.

"Ben has bigger things out there than coaching here," Michaleski said. "But for now he's working hard, and this is just a stepping stone for him to do what he has to do to get to the next level. Hopefully for him, things will work out and he'll wind up playing at the next level."

Currently a junior, Michaleski has put up rather typical tight end numbers, with 99 receiving yards so far this season in six games.

That yardage is slightly off the pace of Zagorski's junior campaign, in which he picked up 243 yards, but truly shows how special Zagorski's season was last year. As a senior, the Batavia, Ill., native, caught 40 passes for 484 yards.

In any other season, Brown's David Brookman probably could have been first team All-Ivy with 305 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Instead, it was Zagorski, who is now still waiting, still hoping for his chance to keep playing football.

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