After getting five varsity starts at quarterback as a freshman, the dream for Ben Koyack (Oil City, Pa./Oil City) was to be a four-year starter, then get a scholarship to a major college football program, and who knows after that.
New head coach Matt LaVerde agreed with the college part, and the who knows after that.
One of the first things LaVerde did when he took over Koyack’s sophomore season, was move the team’s most talented player to tight end and receiver.
“He didn’t really like the move, but it was a no-brainer decision on my end,” LaVerde stated. “He was not a natural quarterback. He was a natural at running, catching and coordination.”
Oil City struggled Koyack’s freshman season, going 3-7. However, he showed glimpses of his ability with touchdown runs of 65 and 59 yards.
“I ran way more than I threw, because my receivers weren’t the greatest,” Koyack said.
After LaVerde moved Koyack, his team had one of the best receiving targets in the country.
As a sophomore, Koyack caught 48 passes for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns. College programs began to sniff around. This past season, the future U.S. Under Armour All-American only suited up in seven games because of an injury, but still managed 35 receptions for 743 yards and six scores.
“With Ben Koyack, you’re talking a guy with size and unbelievable coordination,” LaVerde said. “He started at shortstop at 6-5, 230-pounds as a freshman. Not too many kids start at shortstop as a freshman, and not too many people play shortstop at 6-5 230-pounds.
“He has unbelievable good hands. I think what’s impressive is his speed, agility and coordination for his size. As a 14-year old freshman, you would’ve thought he was 18-years old.”
On Tuesday morning, Koyack verbally committed to Notre Dame, choosing the Irish over scholarship offers from the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, USC, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Two years ago, he quickly realized LaVerde knew what he was talking about.
“Well, I had already planned out in my mind to be a four-year starter at quarterback, and I was mad at first,” Koyack began. “But he let me know I was going to get the ball plenty, so that got rid of my doubts.
“When I realized how much he wanted to throw the ball, and how much trust he had in me making plays, I knew I had to live it up.”
Koyack lived it up this past weekend in South Bend, visiting the Notre Dame campus Friday through Saturday’s spring game. It didn’t take him very long to get back home and decide.
“It was easy,” Koyack said of his decision. “I felt it when I got there (Friday).
“It feels great. They fit everything I wanted in a school. They made it an easy decision. Definitely the right decision.”
Koyack called tight ends coach Mike Denbrock “a great coach,” and says head coach Brian Kelly was up front with him about when he needed to make a decision.
“He was straight forward with me (on my visit) and let me know that he wanted me to commit soon and I didn’t have any trouble with that.”
Kelly was fired up to take Koyack’s call on Tuesday morning.
“He was very lively. He just said he was excited and it’ll help them get some more guys.”
Notre Dame, a no-brainer decision on Koyack's end.