Two summers before he committed to Iowa, offensive tackle Tyler Endres arrived at Norwalk High School as a 6-foot-5, 265-pound freshman.
One question quickly popped into the head of football coach Paul Patterson: Will this big kid be ready to play?
It turned out Endres had no choice. Injuries forced him into the lineup and what he learned as a freshman helped him develop quickly enough to earn scholarship offers and end his recruiting before his junior season began.
“It forced me to grow up a little bit,” the 2019 commit said. “It was the hardest part of that year, but it ended up being the most rewarding.”
Playing right away
Any chance of easing Endres into high school football ended when senior Keegan Collins broke his leg in August 2015. An opening popped up on the line and Endres won the competition to start at right tackle.
Endres grew up the biggest kid on the field. His size was enough to overpower opposing football players. He was taller than other basketball players. Endres pivoted and fired uncontested shots, and nobody stopped him.
He always was the best athlete, but it came easy. Patterson knew “easy” wasn’t a word Endres could include in his varsity football vocabulary.
“The biggest thing was him having to work hard because a lot of the things that allowed him to succeed [such as always being the biggest guy] weren’t going to be there,” Patterson said.
Very blessed and excited to announce that I have committed to the University of Iowa to play football!🏈 pic.twitter.com/eovEzK6Z65
— Tyler Endres (@tendres45) June 24, 2017
At first, varsity football was as a shock to Endres’ system. He quickly learned that effort wasn’t optional, especially against big defensive linemen who could look him in the eye.
“I learned that you can’t dominate when you are going at 50 percent on the varsity level,” Endres said. “You have to go 100 percent every single time and I worked on that the whole summer [leading into his freshman season].”
Effort was a start, but more was needed. He needed to refine his technique.
In stepped Sonny Onken. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound all-state defensive end was bigger and stronger than Endres. It was just what he needed. Onken showed the youngster the tricks of the trade, the various moves he used to get to the quarterback.
The only way Endres would have a chance against him was to rely on fundamentals. He needed to stay back and be patient, never lunge, and above all else use his feet and hands to keep Onken in front of him.
“That really helped me freshman year,” Endres said. “I think that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for going against him.”
Making his debut
Endres was a bundle of nerves and anticipation before his first game as a freshman against Creston. After a few plays, when nobody knocked him over, Endres calmed down. He saw that he fit in, and in retrospect he was facing the ideal opening opponent.
“It kind of helped me because they had a huge defensive line and I had to really battle,” Endres said. “Nothing came easy.”
His coach was right. Nothing was easy about varsity football. In time, Endres began using his length and athleticism to his advantage and helped Norwalk to the state championship game in 2015.
Endres continued to apply the lessons he learned as a freshman. His physical traits began to show as he developed into a 4-star prospect as a sophomore.
“He is a big kid and I think the thing that is so attractive about him is he has small ankles,” Patterson said. “He has small knees and he has big hands and a big head. He is carrying his weight around right now and you can’t tell what he weighs.”
Committing to Iowa
The combination of his size, growth potential and athletic ability drew the attention of Midwest programs. Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Wisconsin offered Endres in the last eight months.
He picked the Hawkeyes in June, committing at a tailgate recruiting event on campus. He liked the team’s history of developing offensive linemen, the feel of the campus, and the relationship he built with the coaching staff.
“We talked,” said his mom, Julie Endres. “You could wait. He said a couple of times he wanted to verbally commit. We left it entirely up to him.”
There was no need to prolong his recruitment; he had found his future home. Plus, the decision allows him focus on the upcoming football season and again put to use the lessons he has learned.
“It comes back to the same thing,” Endres said. “If I fall back on what I learned as a freshman I can put myself in position to become a better player and help the team win again.”