Hale: One is his commitment to excellence. I took this job and my first day on the job was April 8. The first thing I wanted to do as the new guy on the job as the football coach and athletic director was to identify who my athletes were and one of the first things I wanted to do was find out about the character of our players, the commitment to excellence, who was great in the classroom and the great athletes. Zach is all three. He has unbelievable character, (and) everybody loves him. He represents everything I want in a student-athlete, his commitment in the classroom, he has great grades and does a great job there. And he's a heck of a football player, and have an unbelievable work ethic. He gave us a lot of great opportunities to win football games by being able to flip the field. He's just the total package that I want in a student-athlete.
What do you think will be the biggest transition for him moving from the high school game to the Big 12 Conference?
Hale: I just think the speed of the game. I think seeing more of a faster rush at him and different schemes, and just to be poised and believe in his protection. He'll see more of those things than he did in high school. Also, the transition of what they want him to do. But he's got a very strong leg, and he works hard. I was just talking to Zach about that a lot of times (people) stereotype the difference between a football player and a special teams player. But Zach has never separated himself, whether it was lifting weights or running. He never asked out of anything, so we treated him the same (as all the other players). He's got that type of mindset. He's an all-around team player. I think it will be an easy transition for him.
Do you think he has a chance to make an instant impact or will there be an adjustment period for him?
Hale: I think his leg is so strong, I really do … I've seen with a bounce the ball go 80 yards, I've seen the ball go 66 yards in the air. He's got a powerful leg. This is my 20th year of coaching, and I've coached some great, great kids and I've had a lot of kids have a lot of success at D-I schools, one in the NFL, so I've been around some great athletes, but Zach is one of those kids that when you're walking out (onto the practice field) you hear the ball when he kicks it, it's one of those things that you go, oh my goodness. He's one of those once-in-a-lifetime athletes that you have at that position. Zach is one of those kids that has an opportunity to have a great college career and then we don't know what's next. He's that talented.
Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Hale: Just the commitment they did in recruiting him. Coach (Jemal) Singleton did such a great job, and it was a match for him. When I got here (last April) there were several Big 12 schools and a lot of Texas schools coming in and looking at him. But early on they invited him to their camp and they saw what they needed and they recognized his talent and they took a lot of pressure off of him. They showed him a lot of love, and he loved that. He loves the campus, and it was first class the way they pursued him, and he liked everything about the offer.
What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Hale: Zach and I have a great relationship. I'm a family-oriented guy, and I have a son who is a ball boy (for our team). This was his first year to play football as a seventh grader, and I have a little girl that's 9. Then I have coaches that have kids too. I've been around this a long, long time and have been in some family places. Most of the times all the kids fall in love with those prestigious positions. They all look up to the quarterback. When my son was 4 years old we had a kid that was an All-State player who went to Baylor as a wide receiver and punt returner, and he always wanted to be him. But all of our kids want to be Zach Sinor. From my 13-year-old son to my wide receiver coach's 4-year-old little boy, who goes and sits with Zach at every pep rally, they all want to be around Zach. He's a perfect role model. So I'm going to remember Zach for the legacy he's left here as a student-athlete, and the legacy he's left our children as something to model as a kid who has gone on to get a college education and play college sports.