When Coach Skip Holtz took over as the Bulls new head Coach, he knew that USF sits in a recruiting hotbed and made it a priority to identify the top local prospects, and sealing the borders has been the catch phrase for the 2011 recruiting class. One prospect that fits that description is Tarpon's Zach DeBell, a 6'7, 260 pound offensive tackle that plays just over the bridge from USF at Tarpon Springs.
At 6'7" 260 pounds and sporting an 82 inch wingspan, DeBell has an imposing frame, but he can move as well. He runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds, and has a 4.5 shuttle time. He's also a track athlete that competes in the shot put, discus, and the 100 meter, something big men don't usually do.
"I did pretty well, my fastest time was a 12.40," said DeBell. "I actually beat a few guys, and am glad because I didn't want to be the big guy that came in last."
After an impressive showing at the Under Armour combine in Orlando, DeBell continues to be a prospect on the rise. He plays offensive tackle but also played on the defensive side during his first two years, which he loved, but will play mostly at OT during his senior year.
"I played both defensive tackle and at end and loved it," said DeBell. "I'm probably just going to play offense, but I may line up on defense just for fun and beating the crap out of opposing linemen."
DeBell plays left tackle for the Spongers, and that's the position that schools are recruiting him for.
"I'd say my wingspan, and definitely my feet, I got fast feet," said DeBell. "I know where to put my hands and have good hand placement. I have a good quick step, and power step, and I've been told that I have a good motor and always block downfield. I don't stop when I hear the whistle, but when I hear the echo of the whistle."
On Monday DeBell and his teammate Broderick Lee made the trip over to Tampa to check out the Bulls spring practice, and came away very impressed with what he saw.
"I went real well and I had a lot of fun," said DeBell. "I loved the tempo of the practice," said Zach. "They were moving all over the field and were always doing something with no standing around, always working hard, all the time."
Besides watching practice, DeBell also had an opportunity to meet the Bulls coaching staff.
"I met Coach Holtz, and talked with him for about three sessions and that's a long time during practice. Coach Holtz said he really liked my film, and how I use my hands and my feet," said DeBell. "I also got a long real well with Coach Franks; he's real funny and is actually from North Carolina where my dad's from," said DeBell. "I got a long with all the staff I met."
"I also got to meet coach Shankweiler, who's a real cool guy," said Zach. "Coach Shank was talking to me at the end and was asking how low I could go when I squat, and he was impressed when I went down to about five inches off the ground without bending at the waist."
Zach said the whole visit was a lot of fun and was very impressed with how the players treated him as well.
"All of the players came up to me after practice and shook my hand and told me it was good to meet me and glad that I came out. That was real cool of them."
DeBell didn't receive an offer while on his visit, but when he got home today his mom told him there was a message for him to call Coach Vaas.
"I called him after weightlifting and he asked what I thought of practice," said DeBell. "I told him I had a lot of fun, and really liked how they ended with the Oklahoma drill. He handed the phone over to Coach Shank, and he told me they been watching my film and were going to offer me a scholarship."
"I was really excited because the old staff said they were going to recruit me but I didn't know how the new staff felt," said Zach. "I met them all yesterday, and they offered me today, so it's kind of exciting."
""I'm up to 6 offers now," said DeBell " I had offers from Minnesota, , FIU, and got offered from Iowa State and South Carolina last week, and now USF. Other schools showing interest are , Boston College, , , N.C. State, Missouri, Ole Miss, , Michigan State, Ohio State, and Florida State." Michigan Georgia Georgia Tech Miami UCF
USF is located just over the bridge from where Zach lives, and after being to USF several times, he said it felt good to get an offer from the hometown team.
"It felt good because they're only about 45 minutes away. It's not too far away and my folks could come to the games," said Zach." I could make the drive easily and bring my dirty laundry home, or come home and take a shower and get some food."
"The facilities were real nice and I really liked the weight room, the meeting rooms, and the film room," said Zach. "It's all very high-tech. It was very nice and I really liked it."
It's very early in the recruiting process, and the Tarpon standout offensive lineman doesn't have a favorite or a top five yet. "I'm pretty much open for everything and don't have a favorite right now or a top five yet. I'm only 16 years old so it gets a little overwhelming at times."
Zach does know what he's looking for in a program that he'll spend his college days at. "I'm looking for a program that can take my education and my football to the next level."
DeBell plans on having a busy spring and will making several visits in and out of state, and at the same time continue to work on becoming a better player..
"I'm going to Miami and FIU on Saturday, UCF next Saturday, and Georgia Tech next Tuesday," said DeBell. "I'm also just going to be working out, try to get bigger and stronger. Not to big, because I still want to be able to move well."
Stay tuned with USFNation as we keep you updated on DeBell's visit schedule and the rest of the 2011 recruiting class.Click here for more info or to share your thoughts with other USFN insiders--Get the inside scoop!