Liberty’s newest football commit, Zac Foutz, fulfilled a lifelong dream when he committed to Coach Gill recently. “My dream has been to play Division I college football since I was 6 years old.” In the Fall of 2012, during his sophomore football season, his dream was nearly derailed.
About a month after receiving a steroid injection for inflammation in his lower back, he became the youngest known victim of the 2012 Fungal Meningitis outbreak. It took him nearly 2 years to fully recover. Zac calls it “the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” After Zac became sick and struggled with his recovery, he never gave up on his dream of playing college football. “It hurt me a lot in my recruiting,” he explains.
In April 2014, he attended Liberty’s junior day. After meeting with several of the Flames’ coaches on the field, he was impressed and took a few more visits to Lynchburg. Liberty’s coaches made a big impact on Foutz early on. “Coach Gill was one of the few coaches that wasn’t really worried about the illness. (He) looked at it in a positive manner, ‘If you can overcome this adversity, I can’t imagine what you will be able to do in 4 years once we get a hold of (you).”
In August, Liberty was the first to offer Foutz, and just a few days later he attended one of the Flames’ practices. “Coach Gill and the coaching staff was straight up and straightforward with me (throughout the entire recruiting process),” Foutz says. Liberty strength and conditioning coach Bill Gillespie made the biggest impact on him. “Coach Gillespie, he’s one of the best, if not the best, strength coaches in the entire country. (After meeting him) I never stopped thinking about Coach Gillespie and what would happen if I got in the program for 4 or 5 years.”
It all led to Zac committing to Liberty. “The overall package Liberty has, the coaches, the strength coach, I really like them, what they’ve done, their attitude. It felt likely family up there.”
Foutz, who will play tight end at Liberty, is not the first Cave Spring alum to play football for Coach Gill and the Flames. Quarterback Josh Woodrum and offensive lineman Dylan Brucki also went to Cave Spring. “I’ve talked to Josh a couple times. Brucki was (at Cave Spring) my freshman and sophomore years and we’ve been really good friends.”
Foutz began his high school career as a 6’1″, 175-pound wide receiver, but has grown into a 6’4″, 235-pound tight end. The Foutz family won’t be a stranger to the Big South either as Zac’s dad, Ben, was an assistant football coach at Presbyterian College in the 90s.
He knows this is just the next step toward his dream, but Zac acknowledges, “it’s good to finally find a home.”