In football, you can find out a lot about a player when his back is against the wall. How will he respond with his team losing late in the fourth quarter? How will he react when a play breaks down? And of course, how will he react to a major injury? Unfortunately for Rivals100 to watch member Zak Tait, he will have an opportunity to prove himself in the face of that last scenario.
Tait, potentially the top 2009 player in Tennessee, received some bad news earlier this season. The junior offensive lineman blew out his knee in his team's second game of the season and will miss the rest of his junior year. Tait's strength coach and recruiting liason, Kevin Smith, said that he is already handling the setback the right way.
"Zak wanted it to be known that he does have a knee injury and will be out for the year but will be back and better than ever," Smith said. "He is going to be around helping coach and helping in the weight room with me while he rehabs."
If his bloodlines are any indication, Tait has all of the right tools ingrained in him to face this sort of setback head on.
"Zak comes from a football family," Smith said. "His dad played at Syracuse and then the NFL and his brother (Dustin Tait) is college prospect."
From a coaching perspective, Smith, who is also the defensive line coach, has rave reviews for Tait as well.
"Zak is a 'football player'," he said. "He loves the game, works extremely hard, he's a great leader and fun to coach. He's just a great kid and a great player."
A junior year injury is not likely to slow down college recruiters in pursuit of Tait's services. Currently, he lists Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Southern California and Florida as the schools that are showing him the most interest. But he insists that he is wide open with his recruitment.
Just yesterday, Tait received mail from 31 different schools, a virtual who's who of big time college football.
So far this season, Tait has managed to get down the road for a visit to Tennessee to see the Southern Miss game, but he currently has no more plans for visits this fall.
Tait plays offensive guard in his team's run-heavy offense and also doubles some at defensive tackle. The 6-foot-4, 298-pounder excels in the run game particularly at the point of contact where he is extremely explosive.