By: Carlee Sharpe
AUBURN, Ala. – senior offensive tackle Kilian Zierer decided Auburn University was the perfect fit for him after his visit to the Plains in May of 2019. That summer, Zierer decided to commit to the Tigers over his original “dream school,” UCLA, because he felt like Auburn was the right place for him.
Originally from Munich, Germany, the senior lineman did not play American football as a boy. Growing up, Zierer played soccer for 10 years. It was not until after his 16th birthday when Zierer started playing football. In Germany, he says, football was just for fun, and practices were maybe twice a week.
“It wasn’t anything serious; it was really just for fun at that time,” he said. “It was something different and a lot of the terms used in football were still the English terms, which helped me later on.”
Before coming to Auburn, Zierer spent two years playing for College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California, where he earned junior college All-America honors. Zierer was rated the No. 1 offensive tackle nationally among 2020 JUCO prospects.
After receiving scholarship offers from multiple schools, Zierer committed to Auburn University, an easy decision for him.
“When I came here on my visit in 2019, I don’t know how to describe it, but I just felt like Auburn was the right place for me,” he said. “From all the people I met, to the coaches and the program, football and school-wise, I just felt like Auburn was definitely the right fit for me.”
There have been many special influences in Zierer’s life that have pushed him to succeed and make strides toward achieving his goals in sports and in academics, primarily his family and coaches.
“My first-ever offensive line coach Max Spitz is the one who got me all set up with the guys that helped me come to the US and was definitely a great influence,” Zierer said. “If he didn’t tell me five or six years ago that I had a chance to play football in the US, I would never be here. I had no clue this was ever possible.”
Over the years, Zierer looked up to several athletes, including an American footballer named Tom Brady. He says he admires Brady because even though he was overlooked in the draft and selected late, he is now considered by many the greatest quarterback ever.
Another role model of Zierer’s is Sebastian Vollmer, a former German offensive tackle. “Sebastian Vollmer, he plays the same position as me,” he explained. “He played for the Patriots, and he had a similar story as me.” Like Zierer, Vollmer is tall, originally he was a swimmer, and one day in his late teenage years he decided to play football. Vollmer was later drafted in the second round by the New England Patriots in 2009 to play the same position that Zierer plays, offensive tackle.
Looking toward this fall and his senior season at Auburn, Zierer and his teammates are excited. Zierer has high hopes for the team’s goal, which are to win as many games as possible and to win the SEC. He speaks highly of the team’s close bond.
“We are such a connected group and it is great to have that team feeling this year,” Zierer said.
Zierer says his experience as a student and as an athlete at Auburn have prepared him for life beyond college. He says that being an athlete while also balancing classes teaches many things, especially when it comes to being disciplined. From putting on early mornings and late nights, the physical activity and health major feels that being a student-athlete has prepared him for whatever his future he holds after his final year on the Plains.
“I think that football, especially while being in school, teaches you discipline,” he said. “From getting up at 5 in the mornings and not getting home until 7 or 8 at night, I might have a 12, 13 or 14-hour day.
“It prepares me a lot for whatever job I’m going to have one day. It prepares me for life after football. I think discipline is the biggest thing I’ve been taught during my time as a student-athlete.”
As he approaches his final year on the Plains, Zierer is hopeful for what is to come, and thankful for the support of the Auburn Family.
“I am going to miss the people and the relationships I have made at Auburn,” he said. “I will miss that feeling you get on football game days from all of the fans’ support.
“The Auburn Family is all about relationships and all the people you meet here. Ten years from now, you will always remember those relationships you have built over the years. It is a tradition. You see how much the people here really care about Auburn .
“In German, you would say Kriegsadler, but War Eagle is much more than just an expression,” he said. “When you hear War Eagle, you know how many people love Auburn and their excitement for it. And I love Auburn, too.”
Carlee Sharpe is a student worker in Auburn Athletics media relations