COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Nick Anderson had a premonition about his Iowa Western Community College teammate Nick Easley. So he followed his recruitment.
Once he learned that the wide receiver decided to attend Iowa, the premonition shifted to a sure thing in his mind.
“He’s going to play there,” Anderson told Land of 10 in December. “Knowing him and how hard he works, it was a no-brainer.”
Anderson was right. Easley went from walk-on to starter in his first season. Now, with Anderson and fellow Iowa Western linebacker Colton Dinsdale set to walk on at Iowa, they plan to follow Easley’s blueprint for playing time as they try to carve out their own role in the program.
“He made the most of it,” Dinsdale said in December. “Now, he’s dominating.”
The working man
The duo watched Easley dominate in the junior college ranks, earning All-America honors in 2016. But at 5-foot-11, 203 pounds, Easley lacked the size teams prefer in receivers, and walking on was his only option.
Easley’s dedication to his craft always impressed Dinsdale. It seemed every day, he saw Easley running routes after an Iowa Western practice or putting himself through sprint cone drills before a workout.
“He was always trying to better himself,” Dinsdale said.
And Dinsdale and Anderson know that is at the heart of Easley’s quick rise up the Iowa depth chart.
“It’s the best work ethic I’ve ever seen,” Dinsdale said.
Now, Easley didn’t show up at Iowa with a plan to quickly impress the coaching staff. He just did what he always did. He put his head down, threw himself into the task at hand and looked for ways to improve himself.
“I am really not thinking about what I have done,” Easley told Land of 10 last August. “I am thinking about what I need to do. I need to just keep getting better. I have a lot of room to improve.”
Easley arrived last January and quickly impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic and demeanor. He was running with the first-team offense in spring practice and lead the team with 51 receptions and 530 receiving yards.
“His numbers are really good,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz told Land of 10 last March. “The guy came in and went to work. He really impressed us that way. He’s got a really good attitude. He’s a hard worker. Doesn’t talk a lot, but he just shows up every day and goes hard.”
Being like Nick Easley
Like Easley, Dinsdale and Anderson are arriving for the spring semester.
Like Easley, they are playing at a position conducive to a newcomer earning playing time. Last year, Iowa overhauled its wide receivers. This year, the Hawkeyes will break in three new starting linebackers. Playing time is there for whomever wants to grab it.
Like Easley, Dinsdale grew up a Hawkeyes fan. The Gladbrook Reinbeck High School (Iowa) product jumped at the chance to wear gold and black.
Unlike Easley, Anderson wore cardinal and gold as a child. He talked to Iowa State and coach Matt Campbell about joining the Cyclones during his senior year at Waukee High School. All he’ll say about the situation is it didn’t work out.
“Ever since then I’ve had a hatred for them,” Anderson said. “It’s kind of weird.”
Now, he’s focused on becoming the next Easley. So is Dinsdale. Starting or special teams, they don’t care how they help Iowa. They just want to see the field.
The easiest way there is by replicating Easley’s work ethic.
“You knew he was going to blow up somewhere,” Dinsdale said. “Someone was going to come in and get him and Iowa [did].”