IOWA CITY, Iowa — Aaron Wiley is quick to point out to two things about Keegan Glaus. He is a heck of a football player. He’s also 5-foot-10.
When discussing Glaus, one observation leads right into the next. Both matter, because it’s why the Bettendorf (Iowa) High School linebacker is walking on at Iowa but not on scholarship. Even though college coaches saw the skill, they couldn’t see past the size.
“For a lot of people, that was a red flag right away in the recruiting process,” said Wiley, Bettendorf’s football coach.
All sorts of players ran through his program in the last 20-plus years, but few were like Glaus, a two-time All-State prospect. He was a two-way star, rushing for 1,138 yards and recording 64 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss his senior year.
“He’s got to be one of the top two, three or four players we’ve ever had,” Wiley said.
The resume reads like that of a scholarship player. Receiving a FBS offer, though, can sometimes be a lot like riding a roller coaster: There is a height requirement.
At linebacker, the first digit in someone’s height must be a six. When he came up short, schools turned away.
“I was pretty irritated by it,” Glaus said. “I can’t help it (that) I am not 6-2.”
No better feeling than knowing I'm a Hawkeye ?? pic.twitter.com/vjmRxXcZet
— Keegan Glaus (@kglaus32) January 22, 2017
Glaus wanted an FBS scholarship. It had been his dream since first touching a football at the age of 4. So the height issue grated on him. It was as if every first down he rushed for and every third-down stop he made didn’t matter. He said it seemed like coaches would look at the roster, see his height and move on to someone else.
“I don’t think height means anything,” Glaus said. “It’s all heart. If you are ready to hit or be hit, and are ready to throw your body at someone, then you can play linebacker.”
Wiley understood Glaus’ frustration. Over the years, plenty of players who he didn’t think were FBS prospects received scholarship offers based, in part, on their size. It’s an unfortunate part of the recruiting process, but part of it nonetheless.
“If he was 6-4, you would be looking at a guy going anywhere he wants,” Wiley said. “But there are some people where … the first thing they see is Keegan’s body type, and he gets crossed off right away because of that.”
There were scholarship opportunities. FCS and other lower-level programs reached out to Wiley to gauge Glaus’ interest.
Glaus said he would have played for one of those teams if it came to that. But he kept telling Wiley something else when the coach mentioned a Division II school.
“He had it in his mind that he wanted to be a Division I guy,” Wiley said.
Iowa didn’t offer a scholarship, but a walk-on opportunity emerged during the winter. He took a visit in January and told coach Kirk Ferentz he would wear the black and gold.
— Keegan Glaus (@kglaus32) January 18, 2017
Glaus doesn’t know where he’ll play yet. It could be at fullback, though linebacker is an option. Wiley wouldn’t bet against the kid who stood out as a 170-pound sophomore by showing natural instincts and an uncommon toughness.
“We had to convince him he doesn’t need to run over people all the time at running back,” Wiley said. “The idea was to score and not run into guys.”
In one breath, Wiley makes Glaus sound like a fullback. In the next, like a linebacker, as he compares his football instincts to former Iowa and Bettendorf star LB Pat Angerer.
Glaus could succeed in either spot. All that matters to him is that he does, because he’s out to show skill matters more than size.
“I am definitely going to go into college with a chip on my shoulder, and I still have more to prove to my coaches and to everyone who doubted me,” Glaus said. “I think that will help me in the end.”