Zac Schuller’s phone showed a Phoenix, Arizona area code. Not knowing whom it could be, the former City College of San Francisco wide receiver ignored the call.
The next morning, Schuller was awakened by another phone call. This time it was George Rush, the head football coach at CCSF.
“I just got off the phone with Oregon,” Rush told Schuller. “Write this number down.”
Dazed and still half-asleep, Schuller wrote the number down. Coincidentally, it was the same number that he ignored the day before. He had been waiting for months to figure out his upcoming college destination, and finally, Schuller got the call he had been hoping for.
“I was just kind of waiting and waiting and trying to keep my head up and then I got this call,” Schuller said. “It’s the dream school.”
The phone belonged to Oregon wide receiver’s coach Matt Lubick. Lubick and the rest of the Oregon coaching staff had heard about Schuller’s successful junior college career and his elite track speed. They offered him a tryout.
On his way to dinner in Florence, Oregon, Schuller once again received a call from Lubick. Lubick opened the conversation by saying he had good news for Schuller. After that, Schuller was too excited to remember what the rest of the phone call entailed.
“I was too excited,” Schuller said with a smile. “I don’t even remember what he said after that.”
A week later, Schuller returned to Oregon as a scholarship athlete.
“It sort of came out of the blue,” Schuller’s father Elden recalled. “Things changed overnight with that one phone call. It was a whirlwind.”
Growing up, Schuller didn’t look at football as something he’d pursue after high school. While at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, California, Schuller split time in the offensive backfield with Gabe Manzanares. After seeing him play, Manzanares told Schuller that he had a future in the game.
“Back in high school I saw how explosive he was,” Manzanares said. “I knew it was going to be hard, but I always had high hopes.”
Against rival Sacred Heart Cathedral, Schuller recorded three touchdowns including an interception returned for a touchdown. That was the first time on the field Manzanares saw Schuller’s potential play out.
“I thought, ‘Man, this guy is special,’” Manzanares said.
Manzanares saw Schuller’s ability firsthand. That’s why when Schuller called to tell Manzanres he was heading to Oregon, Manzanares wasn’t surprised. Manzanres was proud of Schuller, but told him there was still a lot of work left to do.
“I appreciate that from him,” Schuller said. “It keeps my mind right and my head on my shoulders.”
With just two years of eligibility remaining, Schuller understands that he is at Oregon to compete. After the loss of former Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff to the Philadelphia Eagles, and the severe knee injury to Bralon Addison, the receiver and returning positions are wide open.
“As a JUCO transfer, they brought me in to get me in the mix,” Schuller said. “I’m going to try and fight for a starting job.”
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @jhoyt42