Nearly two-dozen Division I schools actively pursued the talents of Heard County High School defensive end Zaylin Wood this offseason.
In the end, one summer trip to the City of Brotherly Love prompted the rising senior star to make his collegiate decision.
Wood took to his Twitter account on the Fourth of July to officially announce his verbal commitment to Temple University, becoming the Braves’ second Class of 2019 D-I verbal this summer after teammate Aaron Beasley aligned himself with Tennessee in June.
Getting the chance to take a trip to Temple’s north Philadelphia campus from June 22-24, the future Owl fell in love with everything that the American Athletic Conference school had to offer and ultimately decided to jump on board.
“I went up there and it was really nice,” Wood said on Monday morning. “The campus was really nice. I got along with the coaches and developed a good relationship with the players. They got what I want to major in (Engineering or Broadcasting) and that’s what I was really basing it on, what I want to major in school. I was impressed with everything.”
Wood came away impressed with the coaching staff, headed up by second-year head coach Geoff Collins, along with defensive line coach Jim Panagos and defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker.
Serving as the defensive coordinator of Mississippi State and Florida prior to his arrival at Temple in 2017, Collins guided the Cherry and White to a 7-6 record and a Gasparilla Bowl victory in his inaugural season.
The HC standout visualized himself learning from the Owl coaches throughout his college career.
“He makes everything around you fun,” Wood said of Collins. “I can see how he and all of his coaches can develop me into a better player.”
Rated as a three-star prospect by 247 and Rivals, Wood wasn’t alone is his decision on Independence Day as five other players verbally committed to Temple, a haul that included Joshua Youngblood (Tampa, FL), Jamal Speaks (Washington D.C.), Jacoby Sharpe (Buford), Kennique Bonner-Steward (Cornelius, NC) and Victor Stoffel (Sweden).
Now entrenched as one of the featured pick-ups in the class, he’s planning to next return to Philadelphia this fall for an official visit and an Owls' home game at Lincoln Financial Field.
“I plan on going back up there for a game to see how they play and check out the defense that they run,” Wood said.
In the meantime, Wood is currently going through the Braves’ summer workout program as he and his teammates prepare for the fast-approaching 2018 season.
The new Temple verbal commit cannot wait to get things rolling at Staples Stadium this August.
“I’m excited about this team. I feel like we can go all the way, for real,” Wood said. “I feel like I can make a big difference on the defense. They were really good last year and I think I can make it a lot better with my quickness.”