Shane Zink has gone from role player to starter over the last month, a turn of events that would - in most cases - make an athlete's year.
For Zink, it's a distant second.
The Arizona Wildcats offensive lineman married his longtime girlfriend, Erin Gagliano, in May.
The happiest day of Zink's life has been followed by a pretty sweet five months.
Zink started Arizona's last two games at left guard and was on the field when Matt Scott set program records for attempts and completions against Stanford. Zink can also play tackle in a pinch, a plus given the Wildcats' recent rash of injuries on the offensive line. He's likely to play, if not start, when the Wildcats (3-3 overall, 0-3 Pac-12) face Washington on Saturday.
"Thank god," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Where we're at right now, we've needed it."
There's a connection, Zink says, between his happiness off the field and his performance on it. Football and marriage have some of the same rules.
Let Arizona's resident newly married "old man" be your guide:
• Rule No. 1: Be selfless. Zink and the rest of the Wildcats' offensive line have that part down.
As blockers and pass-protectors, they're selfless by nature. And, surely, they don't receive much - if any - credit.
"O-line is the most selfless of the position groups. We don't get our name in the paper. We take pride in the statistics the other guys put up," Zink said. "We're like big brothers. We protect, we want other people to do well, and lastly, we'll do our jobs behind the scenes."
The 6-foot-6-inch, 314-pound Zink, like many of the Wildcats' linemen, has been cross-trained at different positions because of need. When Scott calls Zink "a multi-purpose guy," it's with respect.
"You put him anywhere, and he's going to play," the quarterback said.
There's a correlation between football and family, Zink said. Sometimes, the line can be blurred: Former teammate Jack Julsing was one of Zink's groomsmen, and Wildcats lineman Trent Spurgeon served as an usher.
Zink is one of two married players on the UA roster. Tight end Drew Robinson married his wife, Kensi, in December.
"I'm priority No. 2 in my marriage. My wife and my family are priority No. 1," Zink said. "On the team, the well-being of everyone else is my priority No. 1. I want to protect Matt as hard as I can. I want Ka'Deem (Carey) to get through the line. I want other things to happen. If I can do that to the best of my ability, I think other things will work out."
"Happy wife, happy life, right?" he said. "Well, happy quarterback, happy life."
• Rule No. 2: Respect the institution. Football can be a humbling game. Zink watched earlier this month as center Kyle Quinn and guard Trace Biskin went down with ankle and foot injuries, respectively. While it was hard to see his teammates hurt, the mistakes marked Zink's chance. He hasn't had many: In his first three years at the UA, he played in four games, starting three.
Football, like marriage, can humble you. The key, Zink said, is to respect the institution and work together.
"You're not so much caring about yourself; you're thinking of what you're doing this weekend or where you're going to eat. It's, 'Where can I hang out with my wife when I don't have football?'" Zink said.
"When you've got that (life) outside of football, suddenly things come into play. Suddenly, you realize the bigger picture. This is a vehicle. This is something bigger than yourself."
• Rule No. 3: Pick your battles. Zink laughed when asked how marriage and football are similar.
"I'm not going to say, 'You get yelled at,'" he said.
But there's something about football that breeds conflict, and rewards those who can resolve it. The biggest lesson Zink has learned through his four years at the UA is this: Play your hardest, and don't make excuses.
Zink's done just that, and he's being rewarded.
"Is it what I thought it'd be when I first came here? Not really," he said.
"But it's the kind of thing where you do what the coach asks of you, what the team asks of you. It's a selfless sport. You're not going to be a guy who says, play me at right tackle or play me at left tackle. If there's a hole somewhere, you want to be the guy that fills it, no matter what position you may play. If they ask me to do something, I'm going to do it as best as I can."
On StarNet: Go to timeline.azstarnet.com/uafb2012 for an interactive timeline of the Wildcats' 2012 football season and read a transcript of Ryan Finley's UA football chat at azstarnet.com/multimedia
The Rodriguez Report
UA coach Rich Rodriguez's injury report and team captains for this week's game:
• Out: DE Dominique Austin (foot), WR Terrence Miller (ankle)
• Doubtful: None
• Questionable: OG Trace Biskin (toe), S Jared Tevis (ankle), DE Kirifi Taula (shoulder), WR Johnny Jackson (ankle), C Kyle Quinn (ankle)
• Probable: DE Reggie Gilbert (ankle)
• Week 7: QB Matt Scott, K John Bonano, DL Chris Merrill, OL Shane Zink
• Who: Washington at Arizona
• When: 7 p.m. Saturday
• TV: Pac-12 Arizona
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)