By LARRY VAUGHT
He won’t turn 16 years old until November, but Boyle County freshman Tommy Ziesmer already has six Division I football scholarship offers.
“I think it is flattering. I like having offers and coaches seeing me as a person who as a senior can produce a lot more than I did as a freshman,” said Ziesmer
Kentucky is one of the schools that has offered him along with Louisville, West Virginia, Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky.
“People told me the first offer was really hard to get. I was thinking maybe I would get one my junior year or at least senior year,” Ziesmer said. “But once Louisville offered me, I got a lot more offers and hopefully will get more.”
He started at defensive end for Boyle County and coach Chuck Smith, a former assistant coach at Kentucky under Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips. At UK he coached linebackers Bud Dupree, Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan — all NFL players. Dupree recently signed a $15.6 million deal for 2020 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“At first it was kind of intimidating playing for him because he is a very intimidating guy,” Ziesmer said. “But he helped me a lot with my techniques and moves. He helped me a lot mentally, too. I know he has coached great players, so you have to be impressed with that. I was just lucky he taught me to do a lot of things last year.”
Smith resigned after Boyle’s 14-1 season ended with a loss in the Class AAA state title game but Ziesmer knows he can lean on Smith for help if needed.
“I got a lot more comfortable with him as the year went on and know if I needed him, he would be there to help,” Ziesmer said.
He’s still waiting to have a chance to be around new coach Justin Haddix, who moved from Corbin to Boyle County last week, because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
“I really liked him when I met him and have been around him,” Ziesmer said.
Haddix did get a chance to see Ziesmer at morning workouts before school was called.
“We measured him at 6-3, 238 (pounds) before we left for before we left school for sickness (in March),” Haddix said.
College coaches have told Ziesmer they like his long arms and frame.
“They like the look test when they see how big and long my arms are,” Ziesmer said.
He maxed out on the bench press recently at 245 pounds but says he’s gotten stronger since then. He’s never been officially timed in the 40-yard dash.
“I actually have no clue what I would even run it in,” the Boyle freshman said.
He’s doing his best to stay in shape with no school and facilities closed. He runs hills — “I really do not like running but I do it to stay in shape” — and does have weights at home he can use to try and stay in “football shape” the best he can.
“I had lost about six pounds but I started eating more, working out longer and I changed my diet so I could gain the weight and muscle back,” he said.
He started at defensive end last year and had 50 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and five quarterback sacks, along with a fumble recovery. Next season he hopes to also play tight end.
“I can catch the ball and I am looking forward to that,” Ziesmer said. “Now in college I want to play defense and get after the quarterback. I hate having to just block and keep a guy in front of me. I would rather get after the quarterback or runner and make a tackle. That’s why I prefer defense but I hope I do get to play offense this year, too.”
He also plays basketball and got in 24 varsity games as a freshman.
“Basketball helps with my footwork. It also helps my jumping and conditioning a lot,” Ziesmer said.
He’s not quite sure what impact not be able to attend summer camps might have on future scholarship offers.
“At camps coaches would get a first-hand look at me more and see my potential and ability and get to know me,” Ziesmer said. “But we don’t know what will happen with camps and if there are no camps at least I am just going into my sophomore year and can still go next year.”
Camps or not, he knows his recruiting offers are already generating a lot of interest.
“It’s a big deal to people here. They all say congratulations every time I get an offer and ask me how I like that school. It’s nice that they care and pay attention,” he said.