As part of the Next Generation series that looks at the players about to join the Hawkeyes, Land of 10 Iowa reporters Scott Dochterman and Bobby La Gesse examine the recruiting process for members of the class. Up on this Sunday is Iowa City West 3-star linebacker Dillon Doyle.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — As February 2017 approached, Dillon Doyle was unranked by recruiting services and held zero offers.
The uncertainty bothered the Iowa City West linebacker, but little did he know that the next month would lead him to an Iowa commitment.
“I was nervous a little bit, just like any kid would be because I didn’t know what I would do,” Doyle said.
Up to that point, Doyle’s recruitment primarily consisted of South Dakota, an FCS program, and Harvard, an Ivy League institution.
Iowa was the only Power 5 conference team in communication, but his main correspondence with the Hawkeyes was through letters.
“I figured they give those to everybody,” Doyle said. “Who could tell if they are really interested in me?”
He knew the interest from South Dakota and Harvard was legitimate. He was leaning toward attending Harvard before South Dakota offered during a visit in February.
“I was taken aback,” Doyle said. “Playing Division I football, even at the FCS level, and have my school paid for was a real option now. This is a huge opportunity.”
The first offer was important for Doyle.
“Dillon loves football and I think it was bothering him that he didn’t know what was next,” Iowa City West football coach Garrett Hartwig said. “The first offer helped him realize playing in college wasn’t just his dream. It was going to be his reality.”
Quickly, his options increased. Central Florida and Northern Illinois offered Doyle weeks after South Dakota did. Doyle suddenly went from a recruit without an offer to mulling over programs he wasn’t considering a month earlier.
“It was all unexpected,” he said.
The surprises kept coming. Two days after Northern Illinois offered, Doyle attended Iowa’s junior day and the Hawkeyes offered him on March 5, 2017.
“It was kind of a done deal between all of the football schools, at least,” Doyle said. “I figured I wouldn’t pick UCF or Northern Illinois over Iowa.”
Harvard was a different matter altogether. The thought of an Ivy League degree was intriguing. He debated between Harvard and Iowa for 15 days before committing to the Hawkeyes. The chance to play Big Ten football was too much to pass up.
“I can always get a master’s degree from Harvard when I’m done with football,” Doyle said.
Playing at Iowa also gives Doyle the chance to work with his father, Hawkeyes strength coach Chris Doyle. He didn’t pick Iowa because of his father; he wanted to find the best fit.
Doyle and his father spent the last five months working together as Doyle enrolled early in January.
“Everything has kind of come together and we are just excited for the opportunity,” Doyle said. “He wants the best out of me, so I am going to understand if he is hard on me in any way, that’s why. I want the best out of myself, too.”