Happy Birthday, Dave Downey!

Happy Birthday, Dave Downey!

Illini Legends, Lists & Lore

Mark Zitnik
Mark Zitnik, a former Illinois football player, celebrates his 43rd birthday today. Zitnik was a four-time letter winner for coach John Mackovic’s Illini, playing behind All-America defensive tackle Moe Gardner in 1989 and 1990. A graduate of Lockport High School, Zitnik redshirted as a freshman in 1987. His best season was as a senior in 1991, when he started all 12 games, recording 49 tackles and four tackles for loss. The 6-foot-3, 251-pound Zitnik joined Sean Streeter, Jon Gustafsson and Mike Poloskey on coach Denny Marcin’s ‘91 defensive line. Zitnik’s Illini teams played in four bowl games from 1988 to ‘91. The 1989 and ‘90 Illini finished 10th and 25th in the AP polls, combining for 18 wins and six losses. Zitnek graduated from Illinois in 1992, earning a bachelor’s degree in speech communication. A debilitating low back pain, caused by his career in football, led to his eventual career in chiropractic care and physiotherapy. He earned his doctorate from the Southern California University of Health Sciences. Dr. Zitnik joined BackFit Health and Spine in 2007. He is still active in athletics, having completed several triathlons.

Illini Birthdays
Today: Dave Downey, basketball (71)
Monday: Jason Moler, baseball (43)
Tuesday: Rick Schmidt, basketball (59)
Wednesday: Tauja Catchings, basketball (35)
Thursday: Charlie Rallo, wrestling (34)
Friday: Archie Sutton, football (71)
Saturday: Ken Holtzman, baseball (67)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore and assistant athletic director at Miami (Ohio)

Get Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter @IlliniLegends

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports


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illinifaningeorgia wrote on October 28, 2012 at 8:10 pm

The name of Dave Downey brings back some good old memories of how he lit up the scoreboard for 50+ points in a game in the old Huff Gym.  It was almost 50 years ago, but I still remember that Illini team that also included Jim Starnes and Bill Burwell and a non-starter by the name of Jerry Colangelo who went on to do some pretty good things as an executive in the NBA.

CecilColeman wrote on October 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Coach Mackovic did a great job with Mike White's recruits; as soon as he ran out of them he bolted as fast as he could for Texas.