• Class: 2017
• School: Valley
• Height: 6-31/2
• Weight: 205
• Position: Quarterback
• Key stats : Completed 122 of his 211 attempts for 2,097 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a sophomore. Also ran for 222 yards and five scores.
• Why he’s one of the Iowa Eight: College coaches and recruiting gurus like what they’ve seen from Lombardi on the game field and in camp settings. Rivals.com tabbed him as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback nationally in the 2017 class, and scouts like his size and arm strength.
But Lombardi isn’t just a slinger with a big arm. He posted the highest quarterback rating (167.5) in Class 4A last season among passers with at least 25 attempts, and did so against one of the state’s toughest schedules. Lombardi tossed two of his 21 touchdowns in a September victory against Dowling Catholic, the only loss for the Maroons in the past two seasons.
“If you want to be good, you’ve got to be confident,” Lombardi said. “I guess I was confident going into that game, but coming out of it … I was ecstatic. I was so excited I was able to put up some numbers against that defense, as good as they were talked about in the preseason and as good as they turned out to be. I felt like that game helped me throughout the season.”
In his final 10 games of the season, Lombardi connected on 99 of 164 passes (60.4 percent) for 1,656 yards, with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions.
• Upcoming season outlook: Lombardi hit the summer camp circuit, where he worked with quarterbacks coaches and offensive coordinators for nine Division I programs. They helped him tune his mechanics.
“If you looked at my throwing motion in slow-motion, you might be able to figure out (what I changed), but just looking at me throwing the ball, you might not be able to,” he said. “One of the adjustments I made was keeping my non-throwing hand close to my body. If you look at pictures of any pro quarterback — Tom Brady, Drew Brees — you’ll see their non-throwing hand is tight to their side. I worked on that to help with velocity and accuracy and (eliminating) any wasted movement I had in my throwing motion.”
Lombardi said the changes were designed to shorten his delivery and provide him with more velocity and accuracy on his passes. He said his gains in arm strength have been noticeable. He could throw the ball a shade more than 60 yards last year. He said he can toss it 70 now.
“Once you get up to big numbers — like weightlifting or throwing — it’s hard to improve much,” he said. “Eight yards, I felt, is a pretty big improvement.”
• Future prospects: Lombardi camped at Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin this summer. He picked up scholarship offers from Iowa State and Virginia.
• Quotable: “He was still just a sophomore last year and there were times when he played like it, but then he would do things that would confirm our reasoning for playing him as a sophomore. He’s clearly very talented. His arm strength goes beyond probably anything we’ve had at the quarterback position. I can’t recall anybody I would compare him to that we’ve had. He’s got a very good understanding of the game. He sees things as far as his vision and if a pattern is developing, he can get a feel. He just has that (idea of) where to go with the ball. Maybe sometimes it’s not where we installed the play to go, but he can keep a play alive. He’s capable physically, too. He’s tough, he can run the ball, he’s not afraid to pull it down. I think all of those things a year ago were things that we had seen, but he confirmed those on the game field.” — Valley coach Gary Swenson
ABOUT THIS SERIES
The Iowa Eight is the Register’s preseason list of the eight best football players in the state of Iowa. Incoming freshmen through seniors are eligible. The team is selected based on Register staff observations and consultation with high school and college contacts. The Register will have additional Iowa Eight lists for key boys’ and girls’ sports throughout the year.