Byline: Greg Larson
Three for three.
Zac Houck is a baseball player, but that isn't a game statistic.
He graduated from Jacksonville University last month with three degrees - in three years.
Houck (pronounced HOWK) earned degrees in pyschology, sociology and social science. The Orange Park resident came out of the Eagle's View Academy dual enrollment program with 43 credit hours.
"I never made it public, but I knew I had a shot [graduating in three years]," Houck said. "It was hard, but it was manageable. I had some real good advisers."
As if earning three degrees wasn't difficult enough, he did it while a member of the Dolphins baseball team, never missing a game or practice due to academics in his three JU seasons.
And he excelled on the field as well as in the classroom.
A lithe 6-foot-1, 157-pound left fielder, Houck batted .292 and led JU in runs scored this past season. His cumulative JU grade point average was a more lofty 3.71.
"It was either the ball field or the library," he said. "I could pretty much schedule everything around the baseball. IPads are a wonderful device. I could get a lot of work done on road trips. I'd just sit in the back of the bus where nobody wanted to sit and got a lot of work done."
Houck will forgo his final season of baseball eligibility at JU because the school does not have a neuropyschology post-graduate program. He will take a year off to flesh out other areas of his resume, then he plans to apply to the University of Florida's neuropyschology program, his first choice, as well as other programs. But to become Dr. Zac Houck will require much more time than it took to streamroll through JU.
"Six years," he said. "It should be an interesting time, though."
Mondays are the traditional off day in college baseball, but Houck drove to Gainesville almost every Monday to participate in a neurological study. His interest in neurology was spurred by suffering two concussions during his JU baseball career.
He missed eight games this past season because of a concussion caused when he ran full speed into the left field wall chasing a fly ball at the University of Central Florida. Early in his career, Houck was hit in the right temple by a pitch and missed two weeks.
Houck has been on a research team in Gainesville since January 2012, studying traumatic brain injuries/concussions with neuropsychologists Jason Demery and Neha Dixit, both now in private practice.
He will join Ph.D students in August on yet another research project, this one with Russell Bauer, professor of clinical and health psychology and neurology at UF. …