Midway through their phone conversation this past weekend, UNLV assistant coach Todd Simon warned the mother of elite class of 2015 recruit Stephen Zimmerman to expect a few letters to arrive in the mail this week.
Needless to say, Simon's definition of "a few" differed from Lori Zimmerman's.
Stephen's father opened the family's mailbox on Wednesday afternoon and discovered 96 envelopes stuffed inside, 86 of which were from UNLV. There were so many envelopes that he startled Stephen and Lori when some of them fell out of his hands as he walked into the house to show them.
"We heard a crash, we looked over and the letters were all over the kitchen floor," Lori said Thursday. "I was like, 'What the heck is that?' And he said, 'That's from UNLV.' We just started laughing."
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It took Stephen a while to open every letter from UNLV, but once he did he discovered they were all different. Some contained handwritten letters from the UNLV coaches explaining how excited they were to recruit Stephen. Others included fliers and pamphlets highlighting UNLV's basketball facilities or their track record of producing NBA players. One even had a card for Stephen, who celebrated his birthday Monday.
That UNLV would take the time to send 86 letters is a testament to how much the Rebels want to land Stephen. The 7-foot Las Vegas native is Rivals.com's No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2015 and already has scholarship offers from the likes of Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and Louisville, among others.
"I think the letters show some ingenuity," Lori said. "They know us pretty well, and I think they knew it was going to get a laugh at least. It also goes to show that he is a priority for them – either that or they have a really good mailing service."
The most letters Zimmerman had previously received was eight in the same week from Marquette, but schools have tried the same stunt previously with other top recruits.
In February, Georgia running back Alvin Kamara opened his mailbox and found it overflowing with 105 letters from Alabama. In March, fellow Georgia running back Stanton Truitt discovered 102 letters in his mailbox from Tennessee. In Autumn 2010, Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle sent guard Spencer Dinwiddie a shoebox full of letters via FedEx as well.
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Amazingly enough, UNLV apparently didn't mean to send only 86 letters to the Zimmermans. When Lori texted Simon with a picture of the letters on the kitchen floor, his response was, "There were only 86? I sent 100."
Said Lori with a chuckle, "The mailman probably got tired and tossed them."
- Todd Simon