Iowa signed 22 football players for its 2017 class. As part of the ongoing Next Generation series, looking at the players about to join the Hawkeyes, Land of 10 Iowa reporters Scott Dochterman and Bobby La Gesse take a look back at the recruiting process for members of the class. Up today is 4-star Mount Vernon (Iowa) High School offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.
Q: You committed to Iowa early, on Dec. 7, 2015. Why did you commit then?
A: Growing up 20 minutes down the road, that is the team you watch on Saturdays. I go down to my friend Jamie’s house. He lives in Martelle, Iowa, and just watch the games with them. They are huge Hawk fans.
Growing up I really didn’t have a favorite team or anything. I just watched who was on. I liked Iowa because they are the team that was close.
In the recruiting process, picking Iowa was huge for me because it’s close to my family. It’s O-line U. They put O-linemen in the NFL all the time. I love the coaching staff, [defensive line] coach [Reese] Morgan, both Ferentzes and now [new offensive line] coach [Tim] Polasek. He is a great guy. I met him [in April]. Just the family atmosphere they provide was incredible.
Q: How would you describe your recruiting process?
A: It was amazing. I might not have had all those offers, but getting those letters coming in and getting some phone calls was crazy. It was like watching The Blind Side and all those letters that [Michael Oher] got, coaches coming to his house and the voice messages he always got. I loved that movie. I wanted that to be me when I grew up. Then it finally happened, to come home and my mom would always spread the letters out on the table. It was awesome.
Q: Was it surreal for you?
A: Yes, very surreal.
Q: Was there a sense of anticipation seeing which school would send you mail each day?
A: Sometimes if it was a big school she would send me a picture of it. I would always love coming home and seeing what school would send me and what they had to say.
Q: Iowa State offered you. There was interest with Michigan State and you visited there. So who else did you hear from?
A: Mississippi State would always send stuff to the school, like game-day visits, but they would always get there like a week late. They would invite me to the game that was on Saturday, but it would be Tuesday when it got here. Maybe it was because it was coming from far away. That is cool. They want me to come to a game, but it was last week.
Michigan sent me a lot of stuff. I never got anything from LSU. Florida State I got some stuff. I got a lot of stuff from Iowa. I loved that. It was like an everyday thing. Iowa State, Michigan State sent me a letter or two. A lot of eastern half of the United States. I didn’t get any West Coast stuff.
Q: Was there a funny moment you had with a coach on the recruiting trail?
A: I think it was at the end of my recruiting process. It was like a week before signing day. The Alabama O-line coach sent me a message on Twitter asking if my recruiting process was still open. It’s a week before signing day, no [it wasn’t open].
Q: What did you think when that happened?
A: I thought it was cool because it was Alabama. My friend was with me. He loves college football and I showed him. He was freaking out. I wouldn’t have gone there anyway. If they would have offered me as a sophomore I wouldn’t have gone there because it’s too far from home. I wouldn’t have played until I was a fifth-year senior, but it was cool because they are a big-name college football program. I just thought it was weird a week before signing day that he asked me that.
Q: Was that your first contact with them?
A: I think they asked me to come down to a camp my junior year. I kind of thought about it, but it was too far. I would have to miss like a week of school to do that.