Zach Sheffer knew his return visit to Baton Rouge last weekend could end in a commitment.
After all, LSU tight ends coach Steve Ensminger had been in touch with the 3-star prospect from Florida every day since he extended an offer on Sept. 5. For the record, that’s 295 days and counting.
Sheffer made his way to Tiger Stadium for LSU’s home game against Ole Miss last fall. That was Ed Orgeron’s third game as the team’s interim coach, which meant there was no way for Sheffer to know how long the Coach O Era would last in the Bayou.
His return over the weekend included many familiar faces — including Orgeron and Ensminger — as well as a whole new offensive concept spearheaded by coordinator Matt Canada.
If Sheffer’s first impression of LSU wasn’t enough, his second did the trick. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound tight end sat down with the coaching staff on Saturday and again Sunday before he pulled the trigger on a verbal commitment, one he plans on honoring through signing day.
“I knew how much I liked LSU and Coach Ensminger, but I had no idea about the campus or Coach Canada or Coach O,” Sheffer told SEC Country. “I was anxious to meet them and get a better feel for Baton Rouge, and once I did I immediately felt at home.
“I’m committed to LSU and to being a Tiger. I’ve liked LSU my whole life. When the coaching change happened and a new offense was brought to town, it was just meant to be. I couldn’t be happier or more excited to represent LSU.”
Last fall, Sheffer and his parents made the 620-plus-mile trek from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to LSU to watch the Tigers and Leonard Fournette run over the Rebels. They darted directly toward the stadium and returned to the Sunshine State at the game’s conclusion, so there was little interaction between the promising prospect and the coaching staff.
On Saturday, Sheffer enjoyed quality face time with Ensminger, as well as Orgeron and Canada. The 3-star tight end already had a promising connection with LSU’s tight ends coach, but he had several questions for the offensive coordinator.
Canada’s answers eventually led to a boom.
“I sat down with Coach Canada. We watched film and he was showing me how I would be used in the offense. [My] Coach O meeting was great, just getting an opportunity to meet him. [He’s] just a real down-to-earth guy and it was just a feeling that I got that I haven’t had anywhere else that I’ve visited.
“They like my versatility. They see me playing both Y and F. Those two positions are interchangeable to a large extent, but there are a few differences. They think my skill set will allow me to play both positions.”
If we’re going to use an analogy here: Ensminger was the starting pitcher, but Canada was the closer.
Daily communication between Ensminger and Sheffer led to the two-day visit last weekend; receiving genuine answers about the new-look offense led to Sheffer’s commitment.
LSU was among the many schools in contention for the Nease (Fla.) High School standout. Ohio State, Auburn and Virginia Tech also were in the mix. The Tigers separated themselves by unveiling the new-look offense’s blueprint and showing Sheffer that he could play a variety of roles and be an impact contributor.
“After spending the weekend there, I got a real good feel for it and loved everything about the visit,” he explained. “I’ve spoken with Coach Ensminger regularly since they offered in September. LSU was definitely one of my top schools, but I really didn’t have a school that I felt 100-percent comfortable with until this weekend. The questions I had about LSU were answered and I knew it was the place for me.”
Sheffer has maintained that he is locked in with LSU and has zero doubts about where he’ll wind up next fall.
The No. 26 tight end in the 2018 recruiting class is a top-100 prospect from Florida and is one of 23 commits in the Tigers’ class, which ranks No. 3 in the nation and tops in the SEC, according to the 247Sports composite.
Forty-eight hours removed from the visit, Sheffer is still trembling from his decision. It left a lasting impression on the tight end, who invoked a memorable reaction from LSU’s head coach.
“Coach O hollered and gave me a bear hug and Coach Ensminger was in the room, too. He was really excited, as well as my parents,” Sheffer recalled. “I’ll never forget it. The people were great, I love how I fit into the offense and I really like my coaches. There are new facilities being built, it’s best division in college football, so what else would someone want?”