ZeVeyon Furcron has been a the forefront of Southern Illinois University football’s resurgence. Behind every successful run or pass, it’s players like the 23-year-old guard that are the secret to Saluki offensive success.
Certainly Furcron’s 6-foot-2, 327-pound frame has caught attention, but so too has his play. Furcron has twice been named to First Team All-Missouri Football Conference.
He has started 46 consecutive games and played in 53 total contests during his career. He has been honored as MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week three times.
Yet, there’s far more to learn about Furcron than just what you see on the football field. He’s a First-Team MVFC All-Academic Team performer who posted a 4.00 GPA in SIU’s Master of Science in Education program. He’s a team captain.
But perhaps more than anything, Furcron is a someone who has soldiered through the good, the bad and the ugly of what life has delivered.
Get to know ZeVeyon Furcron in our Prairie State Pigskin Moving the Chains Q&A.
Hometown: Crest Hill, Ill.
High School: Joliet Catholic
You’ve been at SIU since your redshirt freshman year of 2016 so you’ve seen the reemergence of Saluki football firsthand. What does it mean to cap off your career with back-to-back playoff runs?
It means a lot honestly. Coming here in 2016 and seeing where the program was when we first got here (3-8 in 2015) and going 4-7 (in ’16 & ’17). Then came that 2-9 season (in 2018) . That was really a huge stepping stone for us because we came back the next season and had that 7-5 record, being on the verge of getting in the playoffs. That was a huge turning point for our program to even be considered for the playoffs and being able to watch the selection show (with SIU among the playoff contenders).
Then, the next year we actually make it into the playoffs and now we’re in the position to have another chance to win two games and keep going and get to Frisco (Tex., the national championship site). It exciting. It’s been a great experience. I’m really happy to be a part of the change here at SIU.
You’ve faced a great deal of personal adversity with members of your family passing away. How has that shaped the person you are?
Adversity introduced me to itself. It’s one of those things that has been a lot of ups and downs here in my time in Carbondale. The community has seen me at my highest and at my lowest, but it’s always been there to support me. I’m forever grateful for it.
The football program as a whole has helped develop me into the young man I am. It really taught me a lot of life lessons that I can carry on not only in football, not only at the next level, but in life in general.
What has Nick Hill meant to SIU and what has he meant to you personally?
He bleeds Carbondale. He bleeds maroon. This is his backyard, having grown up in DuQuoin. The community has never stopped supporting him or us as a football team.
For me personally, Coach Hill means the world. Experiencing what I’ve experienced (with personal tragedy), he’s been there for me not only as a coach but as a friend, as a brother, as a father figure. I’m so grateful to have him in my life. I’m very thankful for him.
How has offensive line coach Trevor Olson impacted you?
That’s my guy. He’s had a huge impact. I’m pretty sure he would tell you he wanted me in his (offensive line) room a little earlier because I started out in the defensive line.
There was a bond there (right away). He took me in as far as learning the playbook and coaching me up the right way. I told him when I first came over to be hard on me. That’s just how I liked to be coached. He’s done that, and he’s been another father figure for me. He’s a friend that I can go to for anything. I’m very glad he’s part of my life.
What were your initial feelings about switching from defensive line to offensive line?
Of course there was a lot of frustration. Nobody wants to be bounced around. In my redshirt freshman year I wasn’t producing the way I needed to, but I was primed and ready to go for a big season the next year.
Then we had some moving pieces, we had some guys bounce around and some leave the team in the o-line. I knew I was capable of (playing) it having come through Joliet Catholic.
I went over to o-line and wasn’t too happy about it at first, but I knew I had to put my head down, learn the playbook and once I did that it was all good.
I’ve started every game since, so I’d say it worked out.
You mentioned Joliet Catholic, your alma mater. The Hilltoppers won their 15th Illinois state high school championship last weekend. What does that mean to you?
I wasn’t able to watch it because I couldn’t find the channel (on our system), but I was keeping up with the score. I’ve been following those guys ever since I left.
I sound old, but being proud alumni, seeing that success is exciting. I’m still jealous that my (graduating) class didn’t get a chance to win a state championship but very happy for them and the success they’re having.
You’ve blocked for some talented running backs. Does your technique and approach change depending on who’s getting the ball?
I try to be as physical as I can no matter who I’m blocking for, but of course you have your power backs, guys like Javon (Williams Jr.) and Justin (Strong) who get downhill and run up the o-line’s back.
But then you’ve got our guys that may bounce it outside. When that happens and they get to the second level you’ve got to be good with your angle point as far as the linebackers.
You’ve been featured in some weight lifting videos. Where and how did you first get into weight training?
Rudy Ruettiger. I grew up going to Rudy’s gym out in Shorewood, Ill. He showed me the ropes. We had power lifting competitions. I probably didn’t start lifting hard until probably my sophomore year of high school. He saw potential in me. I’m a bigger guy but had to get my form down. Once that happened, he helped me more on technique. Then we started with those power lifting competitions and I was putting up some pretty big numbers in high school.
When I got to college I was kind of like the strongest guy on the team as a freshman. I’ll never forget coming here freshman year and Coach Hill had us get up and introduce ourselves to the team. I don’t have the deepest voice and the whole team starts laughing at me. Coach Hill said, “I wouldn’t be laughing. He’s one of the strongest guys in the room right now.” I appreciated him having my back at that moment.
You mentioned introducing yourself to the team. Do you get a lot of questions your first name?
I just tell everybody to call me Z. I don’t like people butchering my name. To keep it simple I just say call me Z.
Your two playoff games this fall are in domed stadiums. Do you prefer playing in a domed stadium when the weather is bad or would you prefer to play in an outdoors stadium?
Oh man, these domes are lovely. As far as the weather aspect, I love playing in the dome, but the noise level is something. This Saturday, it will be rocking in Fargo. It’s a fun atmosphere. But, when it’s chilly outside I’d rather be playing in a dome.
What’s next for you?
My plan is to play at the next level. Everything is in front of me, but my main focus is just finishing up this season strong and really putting a stamp on the program and on the (recruiting) class of 2016, the guys that came in here with me. We were able to change the program around. I really just want to finish off strong here at SIU.