Tyler Zahnd, a first-team All-State linebacker from Brooks High School in Killen, Ala., has been awarded a full academic scholarship to Vanderbilt and plans to join the football team as a walk-on when practice begins in August.
The hard-hitting Zahnd, a 6-4, 233-pounder, played middle linebacker for Coach Bob Godsey's Lions and led the team with 145 tackles last season. He also recorded two sacks, caused five fumbles, intercepted a pass and blocked two kicks. Over his four-year career, Zahnd had an impressive 487 tackles.
"He is the type of player who plays sideline to sideline," Godsey told the Florence (Ala.) Times Daily. "He may not be the fastest player, but he somehow gets himself in position to make the play."
Alongside teammate and Alabama signee Will Roach, Zahnd helped the Lions to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs in Alabama. He was named first-team All-State by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
Zahnd, an outstanding student who plans a double-major in computer engineering and pre-law, made multiple unofficial visits for Vanderbilt home games last season in hopes of receiving a football scholarship offer, but the offer never came.
Rather than sign with an Ivy League school, Zahnd never signed a grant-in-aid. He continued talking with Commodore coaches and held off a final decision until he received the news regarding an academic scholarship this past week.
"Coach [Robbie] Caldwell told me they had already several linebackers this time, but that a few spots were going to open up after this season," Zahnd told the Times Daily. "They told me I had a really good chance to get an athletic scholarship next year."
Zahnd is married and has an infant daughter, Makenzie.
Vanderbilt lost its starting middle linebacker and leading tackler Hunter Hillenmeyer to graduation after last season.