Allen Trieu has covered Midwest college football recruiting since 2005. He was one of the first analysts to call Oliver Martin a top-tier prospect, and he watched the Iowa City area produce five of Iowa’s 19 Class of 2017 players bound for a Division I FBS school.
A banner year, no doubt. But those numbers might become the area norm, with Iowa City already boasting a healthy list of Class of 2018 prospects.
“I see it as a trend that’s not going to stop,” said Trieu, Scout.com’s Midwest football recruiting manager. “I expect the level of (Iowa City-area) football and the level of recruitment of those kids to keep continuing on this path.”
Trieu compares the situation to Madison, Wis., from a few years back. Madison used to be a feeder city for the University of Wisconsin before a couple prospects broke through, bringing the regional and national recruiting stages home with them.
That’s what’s happening here, Trieu said, thanks to players such as Alex Kleinow and Martin.
“That’s certainly opened the doors for some of these other schools. Some of these colleges now know how to find their way to Iowa City,” Trieu said. “And I think that that has helped some of these guys as well. I think that is a motivator for some of these guys — even if you aren’t at West — to see a guy at your neighboring school or to see a guy like Oliver and see him do what he did and go all over the country.”
A very-not-Midwest state has already tried Iowa City for a 2018 product. West junior linebacker Dillon Doyle committed to Iowa over Harvard, Northern Illinois and … Central Florida in Orlando.
Most of the actual recruitment takes place in the spring and summer, when schools can invite players to practices and camps. So here’s a list of uncommitted 2018 area prospects to monitor as the weather heats up.
Tyler Linderbaum, Solon
Defensive tackle, 6-foot-2, 255 pounds
Recruitment activity: A three-star prospect with offers from Iowa, Iowa State and Minnesota State-Mankato.
What Trieu says: “You look at the way he gets off the ball and the strength he has already at 255; he’s going to get a lot bigger. I think it was pretty apparent after watching his film that he was going to be a pretty high-level guy. … Athletes at that interior position are really tough to find, especially in the Midwest. The Ohio States of the world will go all over to find those guys, but I think the schools who recruit more regionally will be apt to offer a kid like this.”
Evan Flitz, I.C. West
Quarterback, 6-foot-1, 175 pounds
2016 stats: 173-for-246 (70.3 percent) for 2,237 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions; 78 carries for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Recruitment activity: Will perform at The Nike Opening Elite 11 regional camp Sunday in Chicago as one of 62 Midwest quarterbacks.
What Trieu says: “I think he’s going to have to prove himself at some of these (camps), and it sounds like he knows that. Spring is a big time for quarterbacks, because coaches are going to be able to come to the school and see him throw, and he’ll be able to participate in some of these. … He is a guy who is on the radar, and this going to be an important next few months for him.”
Isaac Vollstedt, Regina
Running back/athlete, 6 feet, 200 pounds
2016 stats: 151 carries for 1,114 yards and 15 touchdowns; 19 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Recruitment activity: Holds an offer from Northwest Missouri State and has been in contact with Western Illinois.
What Trieu says: “I think (weakside linebacker) at the next level makes a lot of sense. But, actually watching him, I was kind of surprised there hasn’t been a little more action there. He’s a kid I think that could really, really blow up in the next couple months. Maybe not where we’re talking about him getting an Iowa offer or anything like that yet, but I could certainly see more schools coming in and offering him because of the athleticism and the speed and the ability to project to a couple different positions.”
Traevis Buchanan, I.C. West
Wide receiver, 5-foot-10, 170 pounds
2016 stats: 30 catches for 549 yards and one touchdown.
Recruitment activity: Harvard, Yale and Northwest Missouri State have expressed interest.
What Trieu says: “On the radars of some schools, but (he and I.C. West receiver Austin West) aren’t guys who I think will get offers until these schools are able to see them a little bit more. But Traevis is a skilled kid. Maybe not the biggest guy, but a lot of schools play in this style of offense now where you can use slot receivers who aren’t the biggest guys. … I think that football is changing, and there’s lots of room for receivers like him out there. His film is good.”
Zach Jones, City High
Wide receiver/defensive back, 5-foot-10, 160 pounds
2016 stats: 39 catches for 559 yards and four touchdowns; 36.5 tackles, three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown; 14 punt returns for 253 yards and one touchdown.
Recruitment activity: Smaller Division II and III schools have expressed interest.
What City coach Dan Sabers says: “He’s not the biggest guy, but boy, he’s a competitor and he’s got some skills, there’s no question about that. It’s going to be kind of interesting to see where he ends up. There’s certainly plenty of receivers that aren’t necessarily the biggest guys doing a lot of darn good things. And I could certainly see him being that type of receiver. … He’s going to get there, I think. I really do.”
Jonathan Gannon, I.C. West
Offensive lineman, 6-foot-5, 245 pounds
Recruitment activity: Was invited to attend a spring practice at Iowa State.
What Trieu says: “I look at a guy like Gannon, 6-foot-5, 240 — Iowa’s certainly taken those body types before. They’ve taken high school tight ends and turned them into productive tackles. So I think right now (he and West linebacker Caden Fedeler) aren’t necessarily on the big, big-school radar. But I don’t look at those guys and say it’s impossible for those guys to get a Division I offer along the way.”
Dillon Shephard, I.C. West
Defensive end, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds
2016 stats: 48 tackles, 13 solo tackles for loss, eight solo sacks.
Recruitment activity: Harvard, College of the Holy Cross, Oklahoma Baptist University and Simpson College have expressed interest.
What Trieu says: “Has enough of a frame that he’s going to be one of those guys that can get a lot bigger in college. I think he does some really good things on tape. Because he’s kind of a tweener, it’s hard to know exactly what level he’s going to be at, but he’s certainly a college prospect. Even if it’s not Division I, he strikes me as the kind of guy that would be a really, really good FCS kind of kid.”
Others to watch
Bryce Hunger, linebacker/athlete, City High
Cole White, defensive end, Clear Creek Amana
Jacob Phillips, running back/athlete, Regina
Steve Sehl, lineman, Regina
Austin West, wide receiver, I.C. West
Caden Fedeler, linebacker, I.C. West
Jacob Barnhart, offensive lineman, West Branch
Jackson Gingerich, linebacker, West Liberty
Spencer Wegmann, linebacker, Solon
Zach Wegmann, defensive end/tackle, Solon
Kendrick Harris, running back/athlete, Solon
Payton Bandy, wide receiver/safety, Solon
Joe Kral, lineman, Solon
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.