IOWA CITY, Iowa — Scott Frerichs didn’t know Noah Fenske was committing to Iowa visit last Friday.
When Frerichs learned the news it seemed about right. The Hawkeyes had made a big impression on his offensive lineman in recent weeks.
“It was really the two visits that he took to the school that really made him make that decision,” the New Hampton High School (Iowa) football coach said.
Fenske, a 3-star prospect, did more than become the fourth member of Iowa’s 2019 class. His quick commitment showed the value and importance of proximity and in-state recruiting in college football.
The Hawkeyes invited Fenske to their first junior day on Feb. 17. They offered him during his visit. He returned to campus 13 days later for a second visit and committed before leaving the football facility.
It can take more time for online orders to arrive than it did for Fenske to commit once receiving his offer.
“I didn’t head out to Iowa looking to commit,” Fenske said. “It happened during the visit. I felt and believed the more time I was there this is the place for me.”
Really, the commitment goes back to Iowa’s offer to attend junior day. It was a no-brainer.
Kinnick Stadium is a little more than a two-hour drive from his high school in northeastern Iowa. Fitting the travel into his day wasn’t a problem. Getting his parents there was. Neither could make the event.
For an out-of-state prospect, that is often enough to cancel the trip. Not for Fenske.
He tagged along with 2019 defensive end Mosai Newsom.
Without his junior day visit, Fenske might not be a commit today. Fenske took to the program and vibe of the team while on campus.
“It really opened his eyes up and he really had a different feeling about them afterwards,” Frerichs said.
He wanted to return after his junior day experience. The two-hour drive to the football complex ensured he could do so quickly.
And, in the process, it led to him becoming a member of the 2019 class.
“It just felt right,” Frerichs said. “It felt like home. People everywhere treated him well, but the people at Iowa felt really genuine and felt that was the best fit for him.”
Fenske’s experience is how programs hope every recruiting trip goes down. The fact he lived close by ensured his ability to visit campus. In fact, it wasn’t his first trip. He attended a camp last summer and took an unofficial visit for a football game last season.
The ability to secure a campus visit is the Holy Grail of recruiting. It shows legitimate interest in a prospect but also lets the Hawkeyes showcase who they are and why they are the right program for any visitor.
“The challenge with recruiting far away is always getting the kid to campus,” Iowa recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell said. “You can go down there and offer, but he never shows up here then what do you really got?”
Commited 😈🐤💛🖤✅ pic.twitter.com/OptfAmJoIT
— Noah Fenske (@Big_Red_Fenske) March 2, 2018
Iowa doesn’t overflow with talent in the way Texas does. The Hawkeyes could sign two in-state players in a recruiting class. It could be six.
Few players outside of the state can commit in the short-time frame, with multiple visits, the way Fenske did.
There is benefit in this. It kept other programs from becoming a true threat in his recruitment. Minnesota showed interest and he took an unofficial visit, but the recruitment won’t extend beyond that.
Fenske visited Iowa State multiple times, but those trips only serve to highlight the importance of proximity for visits.
Fenske fell for Iowa on his junior day visit. The engagement happened on a visit two weeks later. The marriage takes place in February.
Everything moved fast, but there was no need to prolong the courtship. Not when Fenske lived so close to Iowa.