March 31st, 2006
by Andrew Jennings, Senior Staff Writer
New Jersey star Zach Luckett is the focal point in part six of the Collegiate Times' eight part series featuring Virginia Tech's top football recruits for 2006.
Speed ... check
Hands ... check
Size ... check
Versatility ... check
Playing experience ... check
Excellent football reputation ... check
These are a few things the Tech coaching staff has been able to check off after evaluating and recruiting wide receiver Zach Luckett. The good news for the Tech football program is that it will have a chance to add onto this checklist in the upcoming seasons as Luckett helps top off the Hokie 2006 recruiting class.
Luckett was ranked the No. 33 athlete in the country by rivals.com, a recruiting website, and the No. 57 receiver. Impressive, being that Luckett did not even play wide receiver at Holy Spirit High School in New Jersey. Luckett had a stellar career as a running back and free safety wherein his senior year he posted 700 rushing yards, 622 receiving yards and three interceptions. Aside from being a star on the football field, this 6-foot-3-inch, 200-pound physical specimen also lettered in varsity basketball and track.
Luckett's high school football coach Bill Walsh feels that his versatility and physical attributes are the main reason college recruits were so intrigued at the chance to bring him into their program.
"Part of the reason why he was so highly recruited is that he's so versatile," Walsh said. "He can play a lot of different positions at the next level because of his size and frame on top of his athletic ability, since he has that there are a lot of options for him."
While it's obvious when looking at him that he is a physical marvel, what Walsh, although impressed with his star's physical talents, stressed to Luckett was the importance of the mental side of the game.
"(Luckett) is an extremely bright kid, proved with his 1240 SAT score," Walsh said. "But the advice for him was simple, if God forbid something happened to (Luckett), which school would mean the most for (him) and him being bright, I think he went for the first option of school being for academics and reputation and then next, for football."
Like Walsh, the Virginia Tech Football coaching staff was equally and quickly as impressed by Luckett's attributes as an all-around football player. They started recruiting him in his junior season and by spring of last year had given him a scholarship offer.
Jim Cavanaugh, Tech's recruiting coordinator and outside linebacker coach, said right away the staff knew by watching game film that Luckett was something special.
"He's a big tall kid who can really run and you don't see that many athletic kids at that height," Cavanaugh said. "He has great speed and great moves, the athleticism for a kid that tall is just very impressive and good especially for an incoming receiver."
The recruiting pursuits were led in large by two former coaches: Kevin Rogers, the quarterback coach, now with the Minnesota Vikings, and Tony Ball, now a running back coach with the University of Georgia.
"Kevin Rogers was in charge of recruiting New Jersey and got film on Luckett last spring," Cavanaugh said. "We saw the film and were interested right away but then Rogers left and Ball had to pick up on recruiting him, but we were interested at first glance of seeing the film."
Even through a change of the recruiter in the process, which is always difficult with coaches coming and going, the Hokies and their staff were able to successfully land Luckett for their team.
Cavanaugh and the staff are optimistic and think that he is a physical force who can grow to be a dominant player, but as of right now like every incoming freshman, it's a question of where and when they will fit in.
"We let all the freshmen come in and just throw them right into the fire," Cavanaugh said. "There is always the potential for him to play right away but if there are kids ahead of him we don't want to waste a year with this kind of talent."
Luckett is being "thrown into the fire" with 15 other freshmen who were recruited outside of Virginia. Luckett headlines as one of the three New Jersey incoming recruits alongside defensive ends Mike Gee and Jason Adjepong.
It's not only an accomplishment for Tech to have Luckett for the future, but also an upside with beating out other football powerhouses on his offering list. Luckett was a highly recruited prospect with other schools besides Virginia Tech interested such as Boston College, Penn State, Syracuse, Virginia and Michigan among others. Though it was a close race, Tech pulled out to the forefront for Luckett due to family ties, tradition and atmosphere.
Luckett's brother Cory Bird was a standout defensive back for the Hokies from 1996-1999, and went on to play in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts. This attributed to Luckett growing up with a watchful eye on Virginia Tech football as he progressed over the years into a prime football player ready to make his college decision.
"I had been following Tech since I was young since my brother played for them as well as following Michigan," Luckett said. "But when I went down to Tech it was just beautiful, the campus was nice and the people were great and just seemed like they were really caring, the fans were very supportive when I went down for my visit."
Just as Cavanaugh and the staff see the years to come as very promising, Luckett himself is very anxious and excited about his upcoming opportunities.
"I'm really excited just to play (Division I) football, and especially for Tech," Luckett said. "I'm just excited to get down there and be apart of the team and that family type of football environment."
Well, like Zach Luckett, the Hokie football team and fans are excited for this man of many talents to arrive. This season and seasons to come shall be exciting to see how many more things he can add and scratch off on his already impressive checklist.