IOWA CITY, Iowa — Come this weekend, Jeff Jenkins will enter a room full of people he somewhat knows.
The Iowa offensive line commit will recognize most from social media profiles. Some, he will know a little about because they’ve exchanged texts or chatted on Twitter.
Nearly all of Iowa’s Class of 2018 commits are taking their official visit, starting on Friday. It’s the first time so many will be together. The group believes there is benefit in everyone visiting Iowa at one time, but getting there will require them to get past the feelings of a Match.com gathering.
“It is like a first date,” said Jenkins. “I’m excited about it.”
The future Hawkeyes expect some nerves mixed in too. It’s only natural. These guys will spend the next four or five years as teammates. Some will even be even roommates.
But not everyone is familiar with everyone else. Bringing a few icebreaker questions isn’t the worst idea in case a lull in the conversation pops up.
“You get that awkwardness out of the way with the getting to know you phase,” defensive tackle Tyler Linderbaum said. “We’ll get past that and become comfortable with everyone. It should happen quickly.”
Linderbaum knows the perfect conversation starter if needed. Sports.
It what his tool of choice was to build a relationship with offensive lineman Jack Plumb and running back Henry Geil. All three are Green Bay Packers fans. They built a bond while commiserating over Aaron Rodgers and his broken collarbone.
“That is one thing in common,” Linderbaum said. “I know Henry has season tickets. If he can find me a game or two to go to that would be nice.”
Modern technology makes it easy for modern recruits to connect before stepping foot on campus. They already know a little about their fellow commits and want to know more.
Jenkins can’t wait to spend time around offensive linemen Cody Ince and Plumb and get to know them better. Jenkins and Ince are both into the outdoors and Jenkins and Plumb are both eager to get to work at the next level.
“I haven’t met either of them yet,” Jenkins said. “Those are the two I would say I really want to meet the most. All three of us have a lot in common of what we want to do and have a lot of in common with our personalities too.”
Linebacker Dillon Doyle knows most of the class. It’s a byproduct of being an early commit, the son of the strength coach and around the program more than any other recruit.
He expects the awkward silences to quickly fade away into laughter. It’s then, as the players bond, when the most important part of the weekend can start taking place.
“It’s definitely beneficial to get to know each other,” Doyle said. “We can start building that bond and trust as a team together. We’ll need that going forward.”
The second date is a guarantee. It should take some pressure off of this initial encounter.
“Yeah it’s a little bit weird,” Doyle said. “They are all just high school kids. They are just football players. Once you start talking to them it’s not like anything too bad.”