Zak Kustok
Personal information
Date of birth: (1979-02-24) February 24, 1979 (age 40)
Career information
College: Northwestern
Undrafted in 2002
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Miami Dolphins ( 2002)*
Career highlights and awards

Zak Adam Kustok (born February 24, 1979) is an American businessman who was starting quarterback for the Northwestern Wildcats from 1999 to 2001.[1] He originally matriculated at Notre Dame, but suffered from a change in the offensive game plan when Bob Davie replaced Lou Holtz, who had recruited him. Early in his second season in 1998 he left the program and joined Northwestern after its fifth game in 1999. Despite playing only two and a half seasons for Northwestern, he is the current Northwestern record holder for many quarterback rushing and passing statistics, including single season and career rushing touchdowns, career rushing yardage, career and single-season consecutive games with a touchdown pass and career consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He was a 2001 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist.

Early lifeEdit

As a sophomore, Kustok led Lincoln-Way Central High School to a SICA West championship.[2] By the time he was a sophomore during the 1994–95 school year, he was as well known as one of the best football prospects in the Chicago metropolitan area as he was as a scholar who ranked first in his class of 925 students.[3][4] He also started at point guard on the basketball team.[5]

Kustok was unhappy at Lincoln-Way, so his family moved from Frankfort, Illinois to Orland Park, Illinois.[6] Thus, as a junior, he transferred to Sandburg High School,[7] and he led them to an 11–0 start to their season and a second round of the 1995 Class 6A playoffs win against Schaumburg High School before losing to Romeoville High School in the quarterfinals.[8][9] Entering his senior season in 1996, he was the top-rated quarterback in the Chicago area and one of 9 local players ranked among the nation's top 100.[10][11] Although he was a standout in football, he earned a Chicago Tribune prep athlete of the week award for his basketball performance both as a junior and as a senior.[12][13] In the spring, before his senior season, he announced that he intended to attend Notre Dame.[14] Kustok chose Notre Dame over Northwestern.[15] Kustok earned the 1997 Tribune Scholar Athlete of the Year award from the Chicago Tribune.[16]

Entering his senior season, USA Today rated him as one of the top 25 prospects in Illinois.[17] That season, he again led Sandburg to the Class 6A football playoffs,[18] but the team only went 6–4 as he endured injuries and an inexperienced offensive line.[6][19] That season, he was an All-Area special mention athlete in both football and basketball.[20][21] Although head coach Lou Holtz left Notre Dame following the 1996 season, Kustok remained committed to his replacement Bob Davie even though Ron Powlus decided not to enter the 1997 NFL Draft.[22][23] After his senior season, he was ranked as the second best quarterback (behind Antwaan Randle El) and seventh best football prospect in the Chicago area.[24] In his 1997 senior spring, he won the regional competition for the Footaction High School Quarterback Challenge, which qualified him to compete at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World against 14 other high school quarterbacks.[25]

College careerEdit

Kustok spent the 1997 season as a quarterback for the scout team at Notre Dame.[6] During 1998 Spring football, freshman Kustok found himself in a battle with junior Jarious Jackson, sophomore Eric Chappell, and incoming freshman Arnaz Battle for the starting role in a newly revamped option offense for the 1998 NCAA Division I-A football season.[26] Kustok, like Powlus before him, was more of a drop back passer and suddenly found himself fourth on the depth chart at the beginning of the 1998 Notre Dame season.[27] In late September, he decided to leave the program.[28] While at the University of Notre Dame he was a Dean's List scholar with a 3.519 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.[16] He transferred to Moraine Valley Junior College near his family in Orland Park.[29] In December 1998, he committed to Kansas.[30][31] However, Kansas received a commitment from Dylen Smith,[32] and Kustok received offers from outgoing Northwestern coach Gary Barnett, who was transitioning to a new job as Colorado Buffaloes football head coach as well as an offer from Northwestern.[29] In February 1999, Kustok committed to Northwestern.[33][34] The following summer, incumbent quarterback Gavin Hoffman announced he was transferring to Penn.[35]

Upon transferring the date of his athletic eligibility was contested because although by all accounts Kustok left Notre Dame on September 28, his transcripts were not registered an official date of October 21. This necessitated a request for court ordered emergency relief in the Cook County Circuit Court.[36] He sought immediate eligibility which was denied.[16] In mid-September the NCAA settled with Kustok and granted him eligibility for the October 2 game based on the September 28 date.[37][38] Kustok made his debut after Northwestern fell behind Minnesota 14–0 in the game and head coach Randy Walker removed starter Nick Kreinbrink.[39][40] The following week, he started against Indiana.[41][42]

He was a 2001 finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award along with Joey Harrington, David Carr, Eric Crouch and Kurt Kittner.[1] During that season as team co-captain and team MVP, he compiled a school-record and Big Ten-leading 3,272 yards of total offense, which ranked tenth in the nation.[43] He was co-MVP of the 2000 Alamo Bowl along with Dan Alexander and Kyle Vanden Bosch of Nebraska.[44]

Kustok graduated with the following Northwestern football records,[45] many of which have been broken:[46]

  • single-season: total offense (3,272 in 2001; since broken by Mike Kafka in 2009), touchdown passes (20 in 2001, since broken by Brett Basanez in 2005), rush-pass plays (579 in 2001; since broken by Kafka), rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (11) and touchdowns responsible for (31 in 2001),
  • career: consecutive games with a TD pass (24), consecutive passes without an interception (277), most 200-yard passing games (14, since broken by Brett Basanez in 2005), touchdowns responsible for (64), rushing yardage by a quarterback (1,294) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (22)

Professional careerEdit

Kustok was signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent on April 26, 2002 following the 2002 NFL Draft. He was waived on August 26 during initial roster cuts.[47] After spending the 2002 season out of football, Kustok signed with the Green Bay Packers on February 7, 2003. He was allocated to NFL Europe on February 14 to play for the Berlin Thunder, and returned to the Packers on March 25. He was waived on June 17.[47][48] Kustok was signed by the Chicago Bears to a two-year contract on March 26, 2004. He was released on May 2.


Kustok is the son of Allan and Anita Kustok. Allan was a member of Mendel Catholic High School's 1968 team, which won the 1968 Prep Bowl championship.[2] He also played catcher on the baseball team. Allan played football for Illinois.[45] Allan had a tryout with the Chicago Bears. Zak's younger sister Sarah became Chicago Sun-Times' 2000 Girls High School Basketball Player of the Year and captain of the DePaul Blue Demons women's basketball team before becoming a reporter for Comcast SportsNet.[49][50] His wife Nicole (formerly Kuznia) was named Minnesota's 1999 Junior Miss and was also an All-American cross country runner at Northwestern.[citation needed] In 2014, Zak graduated the University of Notre Dame with an M.B.A.[citation needed]

On September 29, 2010, Kustok's mother was shot and killed, with his father accused as the murderer. She worked at Central Elementary School in Riverside, Illinois. Allan was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.[51]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Tao, Anthony (May 4, 2006). "What ever happened to...NU's Zak Kustok". Daily Northwestern. Retrieved October 13, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Condotti Appears Bound for Lyons". Chicago Sun-Times. January 7, 1994. p. 90. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  3. Bell, Taylor (August 19, 1994). "Football '94: The Best and the Brightest – Super Teams, Players And All the Favorites". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 110. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  4. Bell, Taylor (September 25, 1994). "Lemming Looks At the Top 20". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 41. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  5. Walsh, Scott (December 9, 1994). "Lincoln-Way's Task Wont Be Easy – Knights Hope To Contain Bell, Slow Down Joliet Transition Game". Chicago Tribune. p. 14. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "QB Kustok ready, willing and able – Irish freshman knows pressure". Chicago Sun-Times. November 5, 1997. p. 131. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  7. Sakamoto, Bob (October 13, 1995). "Lincoln-Way Has A Big Zak Attack". Chicago Tribune. p. 12, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  8. Ruane, Dan (November 5, 1995). "Sandburg on Mission, Gets Past Schaumburg". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 29. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  9. Harrison, Bill (November 12, 1995). "Romeoville Pitches A Shutout". Chicago Tribune. p. 18, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  10. "Kustok Is Top QB For 1996". Chicago Sun-Times. October 29, 1995. p. 34. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  11. Bell, Taylor (August 16, 1996). "9 Chicago-area football players among top 100". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 106. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  12. "Prep athletes of the week.". Chicago Tribune. January 9, 1996. p. 6, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  13. "Prep athletes of the week.". Chicago Tribune. January 14, 1997. p. 9, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  14. "For The Record". USA Today. April 22, 1996. p. 17C. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  15. Bell, Taylor (July 19, 1996). "NU needs another big season of recruiting". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 110. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Hepp, Rick (September 2, 1999). "NU QB Kustok Ruled Ineligible". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, Online edition. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  17. "State-by-state capsules [Part 1 of 2"]. USA Today. August 28, 1996. p. 14C. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  18. Nickel, Lori (November 3, 1996). "Wheaton-Warrenville South 34, Sandburg 7 – QB Brylka Grants Tigers' Wishes In 6A". Chicago Tribune. p. 24, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  19. Sakamoto, Bob (November 18, 1996). "Sandburg QB Shows His Class In Letter To Foe". Chicago Tribune. p. 12, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  20. "All-Area Special Mention". Chicago Sun-Times. November 11, 1996. p. 106. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  21. "Special Mention". Chicago Sun-Times. March 7, 1997. p. 109. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  22. "Next two weekends key for Notre Dame recruiting". Chicago Sun-Times. January 12, 1997. p. 31. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  23. Merkin, Scott (February 5, 1997). "Zak Kustok, QB, Sandburg: Notre Dame – Commitment Remains Despite Irish Changes". Chicago Tribune. p. 7, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  24. "Seven area football stars among nation's top 100". Chicago Sun-Times. January 19, 1997. p. 35. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  25. Lee, Andy (April 13, 1997). "ND-Bound Sandburg Star Enjoys Taste Of Big Time". Chicago Tribune. p. 21, Sports section. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  26. Potash, Mark (April 24, 1998). "Mobile QBs give Irish plenty of options – Notre Dame will unveil new offense after Blue-Gold Game". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 121. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  27. Ginnetti, Toni (September 2, 1998). "Demoted Kustok may opt out". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 105. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  28. Modrowski, Roman, Herb Gould and Greg Couch (September 29, 1998). "Sandburg's Kustok leaving Notre Dame". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 100. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Plumlee, Rick (February 2, 1999). "Notre Dame Transfer Wavers On KU * Quarterback Zak Kustok Has Visited Northwestern And Received An Offer From Colorado". The Wichita Eagle. p. 2C. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  30. Hartsock, Andrew (December 7, 1998). "Zak Kustok Was A Redshirt At Notred Dame During His First Season Out Of High School". Journal-World. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  31. Merkin, Scott (December 17, 1998). "Transfer, Please: Dome Not A Home – Ex-Sandburg Star Quits ND For Kansas". Chicago Tribune. p. 3, Sports section. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  32. Dutton, Bob (January 20, 1999). "Jayhawks land standout QB". The Kansas City Star. p. D4. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  33. Sakamoto, Bob (February 3, 1999). "Bye, Bye Irish: Kustok Is Coming Home To NU". Chicago Tribune. p. 8, Sports section. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  34. Couch, Greg (February 3, 1999). "Kustok 's road winds up at NU". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 105. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  35. Bagnato, Andrew (February 3, 1999). "QB Hoffman Leaves NU To Attend Pennsylvania". Chicago Tribune. p. 7, Sports section. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  36. Chung, Jeanie (August 31, 1999). "NU's Kustok wants court to grant instant eligibility". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 94. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  37. Bagnato, Andrew (September 17, 1999). "Kustok Earns Eligibility Oct. 2". Chicago Tribune. p. 9, Sports section. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  38. Willhite, Lindsey (September 17, 1999). "NU QB gets A-OK from NCAA on eligibility". Daily Herald. p. 1, Sports section. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  39. Myslenski, Skip (October 3, 1999). "Kustok Providing NU Another Option at QB". Chicago Tribune. p. 7, Sports section. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  40. Chung, Jeanie (October 3, 1999). "Kustok makes impressive debut in relief of Kreinbrink". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 8, Sports Sunday section. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  41. Myslenski, Skip (October 5, 1999). "Walker Tabs Kustok For First Start At NU". Chicago Tribune. p. 2, Sports section. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  42. Chung, Jeanie, Herb Gould and John Jackson (October 5, 1999). "Kustok gets starting nod as Wildcats' quarterback". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 98. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  43. "Zak Kustok Named 2001 MVP at Annual NGN Football Banquet: Senior LB Kevin Bentley receives the first-ever Rashidi Wheeler Award". CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  44. "College Football: Alamo Bowl Past Most Valuable Players". The Sports Network. December 23, 2009. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  45. 45.0 45.1 "10 Zak Kustok". CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  46. "2009 Northwestern Wildcats Media Guide". CBS Interactive. pp. 177–9.
  47. 47.0 47.1 "Packers Waive QB Zak Kustok". June 17, 2003. Archived from the original on January 29, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  48. "Article: PACKERS WAIVE QB ZAK KUSTOK.(SPORTS)". Wisconsin State Journal. June 18, 2003. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  49. Allen, Kevin (September 9, 2009). "Challenge in 5, 4, 3 ... – CSN gig a constant test for ex-Sandburg, DePaul star Kustok". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 65. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  50. "Police: Husband killed Anita Kustok". September 30, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010.

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