Successful recruiting at the college level will always be based on sheer effort by the particular coaching staff to a degree. But sometimes a program can become so attractive to prospects, due to a number of factors, that success will begin to feed off of itself.
In the case of Ball State football, the Cardinals have great coaches, they win a lot of games, and for a high school player – especially an offensive one – who wouldn’t want to play for (head coach) Pete Lembo and (offensive coordinator) Rich Skrosky in that explosive offense? And the more success (and points) that Ball State accumulates, the more kids want to go there and play.
Zach Saum agrees with that premise.
The Cathedral High School senior tight end has verbally committed to play for the Cardinals beginning next season, and that means that the already loaded Ball State offense will just be adding another weapon in its arsenal.
“Good coaches, good academics, and I like the players on the team,” Saum said of what he likes about the Cardinals. “It’s a good place to be.”
“It’s a good place to be” for a pass catcher, in particular. That is what Saum is, first and foremost.
He put his skills on display against Bishop Dwenger on Friday at Zollner Stadium beginning on his team’s first play from scrimmage. He didn’t stop until the Saints were down for the count late in the night.
“He has some great hands,” Cathedral coach Rick Streiff said. “He did an outstanding job catching the football tonight.”
Saum led his team with nine receptions for 198 yards and three scores, the last of which really broke the Saints’ back.
Dwenger had battled back to cut the Irish lead to 33-30 with less than five minutes remaining when Saum ran a slant route and hauled in a 42-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Collin Barthel. Following that score, Dwenger never seriously threatened again, as Cathedral won 47-30.
“He’s improving as a blocker, it’s one of the things that we are always on him about,” Streiff said. “But he runs exceptionally well. That’s what he’ll bring to Ball State.”
What Saum won’t bring to Ball State is a lot of bulk. He’s a nice-sized high school tight end at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, but he knows that – along with his blocking – he’ll need to be much bigger, as well.
“I need to gain some weight,” Saum admitted without hesitation. “I want to be like 240 (pounds) at the end of my freshman year. I don’t think that is too far of a goal, I think that I can get there.”
Adding talent such as Saum will help keep the Cardinal program rolling along smoothly and Streiff credits the Ball State coaches for doing a great job with the high school recruits. Saum will be the second Irish player (linebacker Stu Stanley) in as many years to play for Ball State.
“Ball State has been very easy to work with,” Streiff said. “They communicate very well. (Cardinal recruiting coordinator) Joey Lynch does an outstanding job of recruiting our building. It’s really just a class organization.”