Zak Acuff, who will be suiting up for the Christian Academy of Knoxville next season, had his work cut out for him coming into this event. Though he surprised many (including himself) by walking away with FBU Nashville’s Leadership Award a month ago, his smaller frame will always make others doubt his abilities. But Acuff has not felt any added pressure thus far.
“Leadership is part of being a QB and something I have been taught by my QB Coaches, NFA and in FBU,” he said. “I probably would feel pressure if I had done something out of the norm to win the leadership award but I didn't. I was just being myself. I always try to encourage my teammates when I play. It’s one of the things I love about team sports. If my teammates are successful, I know that I will be too.”
Acuff’s perspective is refreshing for someone his age. He’s made himself stand out at Top Gun by staying true to that mentality. Surprisingly, that wasn’t apart of his plan entering this weekend.
“I never go into a camp or a game trying to standout,” Acuff said. “That is not how I define my success. I believe if you go into a camp with the goal of standing out, you are setting yourself up for failure. I can't control whether or not someone else thinks I standout. I try to keep my focus on having fun and being the best I can be. If I do that, hopefully others will notice. If not, that doesn't mean that I wasn't successful in achieving my goal for the camp. At the end of the day, I think everyone at Top Gun wants to get better for their teams this season.”
There’s a lot for athletes of any age to take from Acuff’s words. Standing out can be as simple as setting goals for yourself and achieving them. Acuff’s personal aspirations for Top Gun are varied, yet similar in tone.
“Mostly, I want to get better and build on what I learned in the FBU Regional Camp in Nashville,” he said. “I think that experience really helped me prepare for the Tennessee Future Stars game against Kentucky last month. But I would by lying if I didn't admit that I would love to earn an opportunity to play in the FBU Youth All-American Bowl. That would be very exciting honor!”
If all goes according to plan, Acuff may nab a spot yet. But it won’t be easy. He’s up against a lot of other skilled prospects, something that excited him from the get-go.
“I love playing with and against the best,” Acuff said. “It can be humbling, but as one my coaches have always told me, to be elite you have to compete against the elite. The competition is why I love to play football. FBU Top Gun has the best 8th grade players in the country. You'd have to be crazy not to be excited about that!”
Written by Kyle Morgan
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