The old adage “it’s not how you start, but how you finish” could apply to Zack Boehly’s football career at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Boehly contracted COVID and missed all of preseason camp as a sophomore at Cardinal Gibbons after transferring from American Heritage High School. The illness put the 6-foot-4 1/2, 290-pound offensive tackle behind and on the sidelines to start the season.
But things began to turn around for Boehly in the fifth game of the year against his old squad, American Heritage, which featured two future Football Bowl Subdivision defensive ends in Marvin Jones Jr. (Georgia) and Richard Thomas (Indiana).
“He wasn’t a starter when his sophomore year began,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Matt DuBuc said. “But then, in week four or five we were playing his old team. He did a great job the whole night and hasn’t missed a snap since.”
The Chiefs would go on to win the state 4A championship that season and Boehly would develop into one of the top blocking prospects in Florida. He eventually earned more than a dozen FBS scholarship offers before offering a verbal commitment to East Carolina on November 11. Boehly and the rest of ECU’s football recruiting class of 2024 are scheduled to sign a binding national letter of intent on Wednesday as college football’s early signing period begins.
Boehly chose the Pirates over an offer list that included Appalachian State, Boston College, Coastal Carolina, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Toledo, South Florida, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan. He was initially recruited for ECU by former offensive line coach Allen Mogridge, who got Boehly and teammate Jonathan Rodriguez (Florida International commit) to visit Greenville for a Junior Day event in March.
“I think Coach Mogridge did a really good job setting the table for getting him up there,” DuBuc said. “We’ve known Coach Mogridge forever, and it’s unfortunate he’s no longer with the program. But it all starts with the area recruiter, and he (Mogridge) really liked Zack for the two years he was at South Florida (before joining ECU staff). So, they kind of had that background information on Zack, and Mogridge had been in communication with him for two years. That’s kind of the way that worked out.”
Boehly received an offer from ECU on the Junior Day trip and returned for an official visit Nov. 4 to watch the Pirates battle No. 18-ranked Tulane at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. A week later, on Nov. 11, while ECU was in his home state to face Florida Atlantic, Boehly announced his pledge via a Twitter post.
The commitment was the first for East Carolina from a Cardinal Gibbons player since the Pirates signed offensive lineman Eric Lenzen and linebacker C.J. Maybin in consecutive classes (2014 and 2015).
Zack Boehly also continues a family tradition of FBS football players. His father, Bret, was a four-year letterwinner as a tight end at the University of Maryland between 1987 and 1990.
DuBuc said Boehly has been consistent on and off the field since arriving at Cardinal Gibbons as a sophomore.
“We knew he was really talented and extremely strong in the weight room,” DuBuc said. “He’s always been the first one on the field and the last one to leave. There’s no negativity about this kid. He’s yes sir, no sir. He’s hard working in the classroom, and obviously, in the weight room. He’s the strongest kid on our team.
“The only thing is he’s very quiet. If there’s a drawback to him, he’s just a quiet kid. It’s like pulling teeth to get him to say much.”
Boehly makes plenty of noise on the field, however.
“We like to run a lot of screens,” DuBuc said. “We run screens where he’s out and you see this mammoth of a man going down the field fast and just picking off defensive backs. He’s banging on one, then going on to another one 15 or 20 yards down the field. He’s a very good run blocker. It’s impressive to see a big dude get down the field like he does.”
During his three-year varsity career, Boehly helped produce two 1,000-yard rushers in Kamari Moulton and Patrick Anderson. Moulton is currently on the roster at Iowa and Anderson is pondering offers from Buffalo and Florida International at present.
Although Boehly won’t enroll at East Carolina until next summer, DuBuc believes he’ll be ready for the challenge of playing major college football.
“He’s very astute in line play, so he’s not going to go up there and be baffled by anything,” DuBuc said. “Protection wise, he knows the protections. He knows the calls. He’s a good learner. I think with him it’s just going to be seasoning. You get there and learn the way of the world and how things play out.
“But guys like Zack find their ways into opportunities. Once he gets an opportunity, he’s going to have a long, very good career.”