Marshfield High graduate Zach Triner is in his first season with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Zach Triner is a big country music fan, so he was thrilled to hear Tim McGraw’s in-house concert while warming up prior to the Buccaneers’ season-opener at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
And when McGraw closed the main set with one of his biggest hits, “Live Like You Were Dying,” it resonated deeply with Triner, a 2015 Assumption College graduate from Marshfield who was on the verge of playing in his first meaningful football game since he was a senior for the Greyhounds.
The musical moment served as a metaphor for a five-year quest to make the NFL as a long snapper, one in which his confidence and commitment never wavered despite repeated denials and dismals.
“It kind of encapsulated what it took to live those years of faith and just believe, believe, believe, like ‘I can do this, I can do this, I can do this,’” the 28-year-old Triner, undoubtedly the league’s oldest rookie, said Wednesday via phone from Florida’s Gulf Coast.
A member of Marshfield High’s all-time football team, Triner was also an all-star lacrosse player and initially elected to pursue the sport collegiately, first at Sacred Heart and then at Siena College.
After a period of regrouping and reflecting, he made a decision to resume playing football and transferred to Assumption, arriving on the stately Salisbury Street campus in the fall of 2012.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Triner suited up for three years for the Greyhounds, starting at defensive end for his final two seasons and long snapping as a senior. Academically, he earned degrees in psychology and political science and, most importantly, reset his priorities and matured personally.
“Assumption was my saving grace,” Triner said. “It helped me build the mentality, skill set and faith needed to succeed off the field. The fun part of those characteristics is when you focus on them off the field you see them seamlessly integrate themselves on the field.”
While Triner went undrafted in 2015 - no surprise considering he was a Division 2 player - his long snapping skills hadn’t gone unnoticed by NFL scouts. The Patriots brought him in for a look following the draft, but nothing came of it.
So Triner, despite never having taken a finance class in college, landed a job with Fidelity Investments. He spent a year in customer service in New Hampshire and then transferred to Rhode Island, where he sold mutual funds for two years.
Along the way, he and his childhood sweetheart, Carissa DiTullio - the two grew up across the street from one another - bought a house together in Marshfield and eventually wed.
“You don’t hear that story too much anymore,” Triner said.
As far as football, the story remained the same.
Triner continued to work out and remained on the radar of NFL teams. From 2016 to ’18, the Packers brought him to Green Bay three times; the Jaguars, Jets and Texans had him in twice; and the Browns, Lions and Panthers flew him in for solo visits.
The closest Triner came to realizing his childhood dream was in his third go-round with the Packers. He spent nine months with the organization and made it to cutdown day before being released last September.
Rather than be despondent, an undeterred Triner became more determined.
“That was kind of my goal from the get-go, just keep plugging away,” he said. “If each year goes by and you take a step further ahead, you just keep going.”
The next year brought a call from a ninth NFL team.
The Buccaneers signed Triner the day after New Year’s and come mid-May he was the only long snapper in the organization. It remained his job to lose during training camp and one he finally won, making a 53-roster for the first time on the last day of August.
Triner made his long-awaited NFL debut on Sept. 8 in a loss to the 49ers. They were 60 minutes to relish and cherish.
But his NFL moment came before the game, when the sounds of McGraw filled his helmeted head.
“That was kind of the moment for me where I was like, ‘Wow, this is incredible,’ ” Triner said. “Then the game starts and you have a defense to root for, an offense to root for and, obviously, you want to do well on special teams. It was so awesome to be back in the football rhythm that I didn’t realize I had missed for so long.”