"It's starting something new, something fresh," said Artz as he explained his decision. "I wanted to go somewhere like Buford (six state titles in the last 10 years) and they're starting off to be like that. The first time my Dad and I met offensive line coach John Turner, my Dad said 'Doesn't that remind you of somwhere?' and he was referring to Buford, because they (USA) went undefeated this last year. Winning 10 games a year isn;t good enough for them. Every game must be won for them to be happy and after the season's over we're going to get back to work and do it again next year. Their expectations are as high as they could possibly be"
There were others factors that appealed to the talented Artz. One is the presence of fellow Buford grad, kicker Lawson McGlon. Another is the knowledge that there are several open spots on the two-deep depth chart, making playing time in his first year virtually assured. Perhaps the greatest is his ambition to become a physician, which made South Alabama's highly regarded medical school a great selling point. The NCAA ruling that playing for USA in 2010 will not count as using a year of eligibility should allow Artz to be on athletic scholarship for five years, time enough to complete his undergraduate degree and possibly even begin medical school.
Artz, who was also recruited by Samford, Eastern Michigan and several others, has played both guard and tackle in his high school career has been told that he may play either or both at South Alabama. That versatility will be very helpful to the Jag line as they continue to develop depth in that unit.
"I expect hard coaching," said Artz. "Coach Turner told me that we're not going to sit around and talk about our feelings. We're going to get on the field, do some work and get after it. He said that we're going to learn , get better and get off the field. It'll be quality reps over quantity reps. Talking to the guys, everyone seems to love and respect him, but he's going to get after you."
Artz also sees a match between hi skill set and the Jags' physical power running style.
"Middle Tennessee was looking at me, and they're mostly a spread team. Watching their offensive line, they basically backpedaled every snap of every game and I wanted to get with a team where I can get my hand in the dirt, move my weight forward and fire out. Yes, I'm going to have to pass set and everything, but I have a very good kick set and I power set very well. Obviously I'll have to work on it (pass blocking), but when it comes to run blocking, I feel great with that."
Another thing Artz feels great about are the facilities he'll be using the next five years.
They're beautiful. I've actually been to Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, places like that and none of those places are any nicer than South Alabama's. Their weight room is better than Georgia's, their training room, facilities, and nobody has as nice a locker room, from what I've seen. I'm not saying that trying to trash anybody, I was just so impressed. I saw them online, but when I saw them in person I realized just how nice they are. They also told me that they were working on a plan to build a stadium next to the Mitchell Center down there. It's nothing set in stone, but that's what they're discussing. I sure would love to be able to play there by my senior year."
By his senior year, Artz and the Jags will be full-fledged members of the FBS and Sun Belt, hopefully challenging for conference titles and bowl berths. With the help of this solid offensive line they are building, such things may very well be in the future.