Recruiting takes many different forms from those highly recruited by the major programs to those who love the game looking to extend their career on the field for as long as possible.
For Cincinnati (Ohio) Roger Bacon senior Zach Kuhlman, the decision was one of looking at long term success far after his playing career end.
His future home… the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
“I was raised in a household where doing the right thing was a major thing to do and you never choose the wrong,” said Kuhlman. “Navy offers a great education and leadership classes are installed so you can become a better leader.
“The academy will help me become the person I want to be and will help me reach the long-term goals I have in life.
“It’s a completely free education and after it, you have a job right out of college. That is not often in most cases and if you do find a job right out of college, often, you do not get paid as much as you do out of the academy. Plus, you do not get a bonus every year. That played a major impact on my decision.”
The way he was raised and his background at Roger Bacon High School came more into focus during his visit over the weekend.
“At Navy this weekend, they have one team rule which is CTR,” he said. “Which means choose the right. That is how I’ve been raised. I’ve always went to a private school and it’s always been like that. It’s never about joking around. There are times to have fun, but there are also times to be serious. I feel this will help me do well at the academy.”
As for his future endeavors academically, Kuhlman already knows his desired path.
“My interest in education and what I’m going to major in, is going to deal with mathematics,” he said. “Be it engineering or straight mathematics since Navy offers a mathematics major. My GPA has always been above a 3.93 my whole time at Roger Bacon. I scored a 27 on Math and a 24 on English on the ACT, which is what Navy looks at.”
As for on the field, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver feels confident in the plans the Navy coaching staff explained to him.
“Right now, I’m a receiver, but Navy recruited me for my returning ability,” explained Kuhlman. “Their goal is to move me to their slot back in their triple option offense. I feel I can be a very key player over the years and I hope they help develop me into a bigger and stronger player. I hope to have a good positive benefit on the team there.”
While most kids in his position worry about how the recruiting process ends and the number of schools that offer or show interest, Kuhlman never stressed.
“Drake had been in contact as had Valpo, Air Force and Army,” he said. “A lot of Division Three programs as well. I feel the recruiting process was just how the tables turned. I don’t want to sell myself short, but I hope I can prove everybody wrong when I’m at the academy.”
His weekend visit also played a vital role in his life changing decision.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “It was an official visit and it started off great. When we landed, they picked us up in a big suburban, which I thought was neat as I wasn’t expecting that.
“The main cool part was that I had already visited campus in the summer but wanted to see what it was like around it. My mom and I went into downtown Annapolis, it’s probably one of the more beautiful cities I’ve ever seen with the water right there. We were walking around downtown and went into a shop and the people there were so friendly. I knew it was the atmosphere I wanted to be in.
“But also, the game, we rode a bus to the game and it was unreal how many tailgaters go to the game. I did not know it would be like that up there. That had a very positive impact on me.”
During his career, Zach Kuhlman has played on both sides of the ball since his sophomore year.
The following are unofficial stats from his career. On offense, 54 receptions for 1,012 yards and 10 touchdowns. Defense, 62 total tackles and one interception. Punt return saw 11 returns for 193 yards and one touchdown while kickoff returns saw 722 yards on 37 returns and one touchdown.
The following are a few clips from Kuhlman in action.