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Taisler is a Rare Breed

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Zach Taisler, simply put, is wired differently than most of his peers. It is that different nature, however, that has made him a top prospect in the class of 2015.

Spring break for high school students can be characterized and defined as one huge opportunity.

How the individual chooses to utilize that opportunity, however, can vary greatly from one person to the next.

For the average high school student, spring break signifies an opportunity to relax, soak up some sun and relax from the pressures of the classroom.

Growing up with a father who served in the military, 2015 linebacker prospect Zach Taisler has never really been interested, unlike the majority of his peers, in taking the lazy and relaxing approach when it comes to determining how he will spend his free time.  

Rather than heading directly for the beach to enjoy a week away from school, Taisler opted to use his spring break opportunity to partake in one of his favorite activities: helping and witnessing to those who are less fortunate.

With his week away from Houston County High School in central Georgia, Taisler elected to travel on a mission trip to Costa Rica. Spending an extended amount of time traversing through some of the poorest and most downtrodden parts of the Central American country, he was profoundly touched by the living conditions which many people are forced to endure are on a daily basis.

“It was my first time out of the United States, so I had no idea what to expect,” Taisler recalled of his trip. “It was definitely a humbling experience. We got to go to some of the slums and some of the poorer parts of Costa Rica and see just how bad it is. It definitely made me appreciate everything that I have. If I ever get the opportunity to do something like that again, I will definitely take advantage of it.”

In many respects, Taisler’s desire to help and serve others has molded his very personality. Strong-willed, hard-working and ambitious, he has always strived to put maximum effort into all of his endeavors.

His tireless work ethic has paid tremendous dividends in the classroom, where he currently boasts a 3.6 GPA.

And as college coaches have already started to notice, his relentless pursuit of excellence and willingness to put others ahead of himself have transformed Taisler into a top prospect on the gridiron as well.

After starting his high school career as a quarterback prospect, Taisler was forced into making a position change in the offseason between his sophomore and junior seasons. A new coaching staff had just been put in place at Houston County, and it was thought that a move to linebacker, a position which Taisler had played in the past, would be in the best interest of the team.

Rather than sulking in the move from football’s most glamorous position, Taisler actually embraced the opportunity to play linebacker. A physical player by nature, the thought of delivering bone-crushing hits was certainly more appealing than the thought of continuing to be on the receiving end of such blows. He also knew that the move would ultimately give his team the best opportunity to win football games, which he always places ahead of personal accomplishments.

Having to readjust to life on the defensive side of the football, Taisler certainly did not show any indications that he had spent time as the team’s quarterback just a season prior. Despite missing three games, he finished the 2013 season just two tackles shy of being the team leader in the category. He was also honored by area coaches and media as a first-team selection to the All-Region, All-County and All-Middle Georgia teams.

“I feel like one of my biggest strengths on the football field is that I have a very good nose for the football,” said Taisler. “I have a good idea of what is going on, a lot of times before the play even happens. I am usually able to sniff out of the play pretty easily.”

Though Taisler points to his instincts and feel for the game as some of his strongest attributes, he recently was able to show that he is also an elite athletic specimen.

At the recent Explosive Southern Pigskin Camp in Waycross, Taisler proved to be the fastest prospect in attendance, posting a blazing time of 4.46 in the 40-yard dash. His outstanding time is even more incredible when you factor in that he stands in at six-foot-three, 202 pounds.

“I thought it was a really good experience to go down to South Georgia and compete with the athletes down there,” Taisler commented of his recent camp experience. “I was really pleased with my time in the 40-yard dash. I kind of had an idea that I was a 4.5 guy, but I didn’t know that I would be able to get a 4.46. I thought I did very well in the positional drills as well, although there are a few kinks I would like to work out.”

Due to his exceptional performance in both the workout events and individual drills, Taisler was honored as a top performer at the linebacker position, easily one of the deepest positions at a talent-laden camp. He also stood out as one of the most accomplished prospects from a recruiting standpoint.

Although he has yet to receive his first offer, Taisler’s coaches believe that multiple FBS schools are on the brink of throwing a scholarship in his direction. Taisler is currently in regular contact with the coaches at Cincinnati, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Toledo, Middle Tennessee, Harvard and Cornell, amongst others.

Taisler currently has plans to take visits to Ohio State, Cincinnati, Georgia Southern, Toledo and Mercer in the near future in order to get a better look at some of the schools on his current list of suitors.

When it comes time for him to make his college decision, Taisler, true to form, will be looking for an institution where he can make a difference on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

“I stress being part of a program that is a big deal to the community, both in terms of the community loving the team and the team being involved with helping the community,” Taisler continued. “It’s also about academics. It’s not just about the football program; it’s about getting the best education that I can.”   

We often hear college coaches talk about their desire to find the “complete Package”. What that term truly entails, at its core, is an individual who is an elite athlete on the field, a standout student in the classroom and a positive ambassador in the community.

Zach Taisler is undoubtedly that coveted “complete package”. It is only a matter of time before a college program lands a special individual who will help the school and community win in all facets of life.

Zach Taisler Hudl

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.