Illinois prep OT Zach Wallace commits to Wyoming

2014-08-14T18:25:00Z 2014-08-15T14:30:08Z Illinois prep OT Zach Wallace commits to WyomingMIKE VOREL Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
August 14, 2014 6:25 pm  • 

When Zach Wallace sat down with Wyoming head football coach Craig Bohl on Friday, the first-year coach described two things every Cowboy should look to gain from their four years in Laramie:

A meaningful degree, and a conference championship.

And by the time he finished his unofficial visit, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound offensive tackle was ready to strive for both.

"I definitely fit with that, because I want a meaningful degree that will help me with my future, and I can get that at Wyoming," Wallace told the Star-Tribune Thursday. "And I also do want to win.”

Wallace -- a two-sport athlete from Lake Zurich, Illinois -- verbally committed to Wyoming on Wednesday night.

The football and basketball player also had scholarship offers from Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. He said Wyoming's coaching staff first noticed him at the Northwestern Showcase camp earlier this summer, and have kept in touch ever since.

And while his other offers were certainly closer to home, last weekend's unofficial visit highlighted the attractive features Wyoming possessed, and its competitors didn't.

“When I got down there I was definitely able to get a feel for the campus, so I liked that. It’s definitely beautiful down there, getting to see all of the mountains," Wallace said. "I’m big on engineering, and Wyoming has a good engineering program. Knowing that they’re getting a new engineering building was definitely a big thing for me.”

Wallace arrived in Laramie on Thursday night, and he attended roughly an hour of the Cowboys' practice on Friday morning. His visit was an efficient one, as the lean tackle also toured War Memorial Stadium's Wildcatter Suites, spoke with academic advisors, met individually with Bohl, roamed the academic and athletic facilities and sat down with the chair of the engineering department before finally heading home.

By the time the weekend ended, Wallace had seen all he needed to.

“It’s a great deal for Wyoming. And I was surprised he picked Wyoming, but he loved it," said David Proffitt, Wallace's head coach at Lake Zurich High School. "He went out and visited last weekend, and academically they have what he wanted. That took precedence over everything else.

"That tells you what kind of individual he is.”

As for the player, Proffitt had only positive things to say. Wallace played tight end for most of his first two seasons, before finally shifting to offensive tackle because of his team's injury issues early in 2013.

The position change, though forced, delivered spectacular results.

“For as tall as he is -- he’s 6-7 -- he plays very low. He bends his knees, and that’s unusual with someone that tall," Proffitt said. "He is a basketball player, which I’m sure has a lot to do with it as far as bending your knees.

"He was our best offensive lineman a year ago as a junior.”

Because he weighs in at around 250 pounds and is still growing, Proffitt expects Wallace to redshirt his first season at Wyoming. But his footwork and athleticism, the coach said, will pay dividends down the road.

“In one-on-one blocking drills we do with defensive personnel, our defensive guys -- and we play pretty low -- they have a hell of a time getting under him. They can’t do it," Proffitt said. "And for someone who’s 6-7, that’s very unusual.”

If all goes to plan, the future mechanical engineering major will eventually leave Laramie having captured both of his stated goals:

A meaningful degree, and a conference championship.

According to Proffitt, Wyoming's first offensive line commit of the 2015 signing class won't stop until he has both.

“We think very highly of him, and you guys are getting a quality person, besides being a quality football player," Proffitt said. "To me, that’s huge. He’s just a quality human being.”

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