Land of 10 has embarked on a series of Next Generation articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the Class of 2018 signees. Land of 10 Iowa writers Scott Dochterman and Bobby La Gesse are visiting the Iowa incoming freshman class to show you more than its 40-yard dash times and recruiting rankings. We talked with 3-star defensive tackle Noah Shannon, but before we bring you the full profile on the Oswego (Ill.) High School star, here is a sneak peek at what you can expect.
OSWEGO, Ill. — Despite attending crosstown rival high schools, Noah Shannon and Ivory Kelly-Martin never spoke before Shannon’s official visit to Iowa.
A.J. Epenesa, Shannon’s host, tried to broker a conversation between the two, bringing up their high school football matchup in 2016.
Epenesa asked Kelly-Martin if his team was blown out by Shannon’s the year before. Silence followed.
“It was awkward,” Shannon said.
The conversation quickly recovered with one topic the two can bond over: Iowa football. Ivory-Martin answered a series of questions Shannon had on joining the Hawkeyes, starting a friendship Shannon hopes continues when he arrives on campus this summer.
“I can kind of look up to him sort of as a big brother when I am there,” the Oswego (Ill.) High School 3-star defensive tackle said. “If I need anything I go to him and ask him. If I need a ride he can take me home. He lives on the other side of town and things like that.”
It’s not a surprise the two didn’t know each other. They were a year apart in school. They lived near each other in the Chicago suburbs, but Kelly-Martin transferred to Oswego East his senior year after winning two state titles at Nazareth High School.
Shannon knew who Kelly-Martin was, but when they saw each other they only exchanged head nods.
“My girlfriend and his girlfriend are best friends and I’ve had more conversations with his girlfriend than actually him,” Shannon said.
They finally spoke in December. Epenesa and Kelly-Martin are roommates. After the uneven introduction, Kelly-Martin stopped playing Fortnite to discuss life at Iowa with Shannon.
The 6-foot-1, 310-pound Shannon was curious about the adjustment to college football. Ivory-Martin didn’t lie. The first few months can be rough trying to navigate campus and meeting new people.
Shannon appreciated the honesty and Ivory-Martin’s promise that things become easier as time goes on.
“Once you get that feeling of ‘OK, I know what I’m doing,’ he said it’s a lot easier,” Shannon said. “You are comfortable here and you don’t really want to leave. You just want to stay there because everyone is your family. It’s 100-plus brothers on the team you can go talk to if you ever need anything.”
The Oswego East-Oswego football game in 2016 was one of the biggest in the rivalry. Led by Ivory-Martin, Oswego East came in averaging 45.2 points per game and was looking for its first win in 12 tries against its rival.
Oswego dominated, winning 21-3. Ivory-Martin rushed for 101 yards on 22 carries, but had only two carries of 10 yards or more. Shannon was instrumental to Oswego containing Ivory-Martin with his ability to disrupt plays in the backfield.
“They couldn’t really get much going on the run game or the pass game because of the things I saw Noah doing on that tape,” Oswego football coach Brian Cooney said.
Shannon, who committed last July, is looking forward to joining the Hawkeyes and spending more time with Ivory-Martin. He probably won’t bring up the high school victory; he’d rather talk about how many big games the two will win together.
“It will be comforting having him there,” Shannon said. “We are from the same area. We’ve gone through similar things. He’ll know me in a way others won’t.”