Making a commitment to a college is quite a decision for a young man to make, picking a college over 2,200 miles away can be a monumentally tough one. For Sacramento Christian Brothers QB Tyler Vander Waal though, it was an easy decision to pick Ball State and Head Coach Mike Neu.
"I felt really confident in what Coach Neu and (Ball State Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Joey) Lynch are doing," Vander Waal said. "I feel like I could fit in exceptionally well in that offense that he's running and with Coach Neu's back ground, I felt like I could have a legit shot to achieve my dreams of playing in the NFL after 4-5 years at Ball State."
Vander Waal made the long trek out to Muncie, IN over the summer to meet the coaching staff and attend camp, where he earned the offer from Ball State. He also was able to take in the sights of the Cardinal football program and the Ball State campus.
"The campus was very nice and I thought the facilities were on top," Vander Waal said. "The weighroom was very nice and they were redoing everything and now it looks amazing with the new graphics."
Vander Waal, a 6-4 215 QB, picked the Cardinals over an offer from Northern Arizona and interest from Montana, Wyoming, San Diego State and Boise State.
After starting at QB as a sophomore at Division I Elk Grove (CA), Vander Waal made the difficult decision to move to Division III Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento. The move meant missing his junior season, and his first year without football.
"Yes I had to sit out and I got to see the whole season from a perspective that I'm not used to," Vander Waal said. "It was like I was on the outside looking in. It made me a lot more hungry to achieve my goals. I also studied the game more not being able to play but it also tested my patience because I was dying to suit up and get out there and play with my brothers. It just made me work that much harder because I basically had to make up for lost time in a sense."
Vander Waal can now focus on leading his high school for his senior campaign, but he wants Cardinal fans to know he has high goals for his time at Ball State.
" I want them (the fans) to know I am a very hard worker and very family oriented and loyal to my teammates and coaches and a great leader," Vander Waal said. "In my 4-5 years I hope to win a MAC Championship every year and lead the team to a top bowl game played on or after New Years."