Charleston Southern senior linebacker Adam Witzmann is living his dream at the only school that would give him a chance.
Despite leading his junior college team in tackles as a sophomore, and setting a single-season school record in the process, Witzmann was not recruited out of Palomar Junior College in San Marcos, Calif.
As was the case out of high school, Witzmann’s lack of size and speed was holding him back. The only opportunity Witzmann got to continue his playing career was from Charleston Southern, the place where his older brother, Justin, had played a few years earlier. It was his brother’s relationship with former CSU head coach Jay Mills that enabled Adam to get a shot.
“I wasn’t getting any love, which was disappointing because I knew I could play more football somewhere,” said Witzmann. “Our team went to the playoffs and I had a monster year, so I thought some people would offer me.
“I soon found out that the same reasons I wasn’t recruited out of high school were keeping me from being recruited in junior college. But Justin made a call to Coach Mills for me and I got an offer soon after so it all worked out for me.”
Witzmann is like a lot of players at Charleston Southern, guys who were lightly recruited but had a strong love and passion for the game. But, 5-10, 220-pound linebackers that don’t light up the stopwatch are often overlooked.
Witzmann is one of the few seniors on CSU’s defense this fall, a unit that rates as one of the best in the country in third-down defense and is one of the top overall units in the Big South Conference. Witzmann, an honor student majoring in mathematics, has 39 tackles and an interception this season.
“Our coaches tell us every day to play with emotion and have fun and that’s the way I like to play the game,” said Witzmann, who grew up in the San Diego area. “I feel like a lot of our guys are just like me, maybe snubbed because of our height or our speed. But I think every player on this defense really enjoys the game, just like I do. This game is no fun without passion and energy and emotion.”
CSU coach Jamey Chadwell says Witzmann’s intelligence, matched with his intensity, makes him an effective linebacker.
“In our scheme, you have to know the game and whatever Adam lacks in the size and speed area, he makes up for it with his knowledge and his all-out passion and love for the game,” said Chadwell. “He has a passion to be great, even in practice. He never takes plays off in practice. He brings energy every day and the other guys feed off him. He plays the game the way it should be played.”
With his team sitting at 8-1 heading into this week’s game at Presbyterian, Witzmann is having the time of his life.
“Our coaches say it all the time, you never know when your last play is going to come,” he said. “I am so grateful for the opportunity I have here at CSU.
“I’m a long ways from home but this is what I always wanted, just a chance to play. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”