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 tackle Jack Plumb, but before we bring you the full profile on the Bay Port (Wis.) star, here is a sneak peek at what you can expect.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — In retrospect, Iowa had a sniper’s chance with one bullet at a mile’s distance to land tackle Jack Plumb.
Plumb is the quintessential Wisconsin offensive line prospect. He stands 6-foot-8, weighs 255 pounds and has a frame that easily could carry 75 more pounds. He’s lived in the Green Bay area his whole life, has season tickets to the Packers and rooted for the Badgers. Both of his grandfathers — Ted Plumb and Fritz Shurmur — were NFL assistants, and Shurmur was the Packers defensive coordinator during their 1996 Super Bowl season.
On a day when the temperature reached nearly 70 degrees in Green Bay with snow piled nearly to Plumb’s eye level, the Hawkeyes’ incoming tackle and his family shared a story about a precarious unofficial trip to Iowa City. A year ago last spring, Plumb and his mother, Susie, crossed the Mississippi River from southwest Wisconsin to Dubuque, Iowa, when the weather turned hazardous. That’s when life matched the wild windstorm swirling outside their Prius on Highway 151.
As Plumb slept, his mother white-knuckled the steering wheel. Eventually she woke him up.
“Honey, we’re trapped in a tornado,” Susie Plumb told her son.
“It was about 4 o’clock, but it was pitch black. The sirens were going off. You couldn’t even get through a song without [radio alerts]. Literally, it was 75 miles-an-hour winds. I kept thinking, ‘Is this like telling us something? Is this a sign? Don’t go here!’ ”
Then Jack’s phone rang and the journey became as complicated as the weather was chaotic. On the other end was Wisconsin offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph. The call for which Plumb had waited his whole life had finally come through. The Badgers offered Plumb a football scholarship.
“He always said if Wisconsin offers, he was going to commit the next day,” Susie Plumb said. “I could hardly keep the car on the road. [Rudolph] said, ‘Oh is your mom with you? I want to talk to her.’ ”
Jack tried to hand the phone to Susie, but she waved it away.
“Jack didn’t want to say we were pulling into Iowa,” she said. “It was kind of a lot happening at once.”
The wind intensified, as did Jack’s excitement. They debated about whether to drive on to Iowa City or turn around and head back to Green Bay. They were only an hour from the Iowa campus and decided to continue with the trip.
Iowa offered Plumb first but immediately went from favorite to underdog. Hawkeyes offensive line coach Tim Polasek knew it. He grew up in Wisconsin and understood that his recruiting job instantly had become more difficult. Plumb tweeted out his scholarship offer, and Polasek immediately got in touch.
“Coach Tim texted me and said, ‘Hey, that’s awesome for you to get your offer. Just give us a chance and keep an open mind. The real recruiting battle starts now,’ ” Plumb said.
“I’m like, ‘Oh crap, this is a tough decision now.’ ”
The Plumbs made it to Iowa City. They met with Polasek the next day at the football complex.
“The first thing in the morning, Coach Tim said, ‘Well congratulations on the offer. Give us a shot. Let the games begin,’ ” Susie Plumb said. “I love that he didn’t just fold and say, ‘Well, he’s a Wisconsin kid, and he’s got the big offer. Forget it.’ I said just keep an open mind.”
The Plumbs did. They enjoyed their time in Iowa City and were impressed by the coaching staff. As they hit the road, the conversation turned toward the future.
“I said on the way home, ‘Are you still going to commit?’ ” Susie asked. “[Jack] said, ‘Uh, yeah, no.’ So he knew somebody else was a contender. It went from, ‘I’m going to commit the next day to maybe not so much.’ I honestly think if they had offered him the day before or five hours earlier, we might not have made the trip. Timing is the funniest thing.”
Plumb had other offers, including Michigan State. He quickly cut the competition to the Badgers and Hawkeyes. As a basketball player with multiple Division I offers, Plumb has the footwork and athletic ability to compete in Iowa’s zone-blocking scheme. It would take more time to gain enough mass to battle primarily as a gap-blocking tackle at Wisconsin.
“Coach Rudolph said his philosophy is, ‘We’re going to be huge giants and we’ll beat you at the attack at the line because we’re bigger and stronger than you,’ ” Plumb said. “They’re more like power offense.
“Iowa is like, ‘We’re going to beat you to a spot and we’re going to beat you there because we’re more athletic than you.’ I think I fit in more at the Iowa athletic level because I’m not 350 pounds. I think that will help me a lot at Iowa, too.”
Although a tornado changed their lives and led Jack to Iowa, the Plumbs hope it was the last one they encounter on the trip from Green Bay to Iowa City. But they’ll think about it every time they reach the Mississippi River.