CREEPYPALOOZA 2013: The Men in the Trenches, the Tight Ends, and the Centaurs

It's Signing Day. Here are some more dudes who signed things.

SPOILER: There are no centaurs. Again. Dammit.

BRANT GRESSEL

Defensive Tackle
Centerville, OH (Centerville)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Brant Gressel

Gressel was one of Iowa's earliest commits, giving his verbal to Iowa back in the salad days of April (remember then? When we were so young and optimistic about the Greg Davis-ification of Iowa football? >sniff<). Gressel picked Iowa over a host of Big East (Cincinnati, Pitt, Louisville, West Virginia), Big Ten (Minnesota, Indiana), and MAC teams (Toledo, Kent State, Bowling Green).

Gressel (and fellow DT commit) has something a bit unusual for Iowa defensive tackles: beefcake. Gressel is listed at 6-2, 280, which is quite a bit of size right off the bat. That might still need to be molded into "football size" (moar muscle), but Gressel is no Karl Klug starter kit (at least in terms of size; hopefully he's that productive). ESPN says ($) he "has an old-school tough guy kind of feel to him," which sounds like the right sort of fellow for Iowa's defensive line. Their scouting report indicates he's physical and wraps up on tackles well, but that he's a better run-stuffer than pass-rusher. Based on last year's performance, it could be all-hands-on-deck for Iowa when it comes to the defensive line this year, but I still suspect that Gressel will spend a year redshirting to get his body in Big Ten-shape and to learn the techniques of playing DL for Iowa.

2013 Outlook: Redshirt

FUN FACT: Gressel actually prefers all of his meat lean and without gristle.

NATHAN BAZATA

Defensive Tackle
Howells, NE (Howells)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Nathan Bazata

Like Gressel, Bazata was one of the earliest verbal commits in this class, giving Iowa a verbal commitment way back in April. Unlike Gressel, Bazata didn't have a host of offers at his disposal -- he chose Iowa over South Dakota State (suck it, Jackrabbits!) and nebulous "interest" from Michigan, Nebraska, Kansas State, and Minnesota. Bazata is exactly the sort of kid that Iowa usually offers (and gets) late in the process -- except for the fact that Iowa was after him almost from the word "go" in the 2013 recruiting race. Clearly, there's something about Bazata that they like a lot.

Bazata is another defensive tackle prospect who arrives at Iowa with some good bulk already in place: he's listed at 6-2, 270. Like Gressel, he also projects as more of an interior, run-stuffing defensive tackle prospect, although ESPN says ($) he "displays bull rush ability" as a pass rusher. He's even more likely to get a redshirt than Gressel, though, since he's coming from the wilds of 8-man football. Guys from that level can certainly succeed at the FBS level (see: Greenway, Chad), but it's certainly going to be a steeper (and longer) adjustment for them.

2013 Outlook: Redshirt

FUN FACT: In addition to playing eight-man football, Bazata was also a stand-out in three-man basketball, seven-man baseball, and one-man doubles tennis* in Nebraska.

* It's a Nebraska thing.

COLIN GOEBEL

Offensive Line
Naperville, IL (Naperville North)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Colin Goebel

Goebel was yet another commit who joined Iowa's class early on (Ferentz & Co. really pounded the beefcake theme early in this recruiting class). Goebel chose Iowa over an eclectic array of programs from the Big East (Cincinnati) to the ACC (Duke, Miami) to the Big Ten (indiana, Minnesota) to the Big 12 (Kansas, West Virginia) to the MAC (Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo) to the SEC (Ole Miss). Goebel was one of Iowa's earliest targets, though, and they went after him hot and heavy -- kudos to them for being successful in that pursuit.

Goebel arrives at Iowa with fairly standard starting size for an Iowa offensive lineman -- 6-3, 275 -- and is projected by the recruitniks to play at offensive guard. He played offensive tackle in high school, though, and in past interviews he's noted that one reason he chose Iowa was because of their track record of starting guys at offensive guard and then moving them to tackle (see: Bulaga, Bryan and Reiff, Riley). So that could be on the table for Goebel as well. Iowa's depth at offensive line is pretty strong at the moment, at least among the interior line spots, so it may take a while before we see Goebel crack the two-deeps.

2013 Outlook: Redshirt

FUN FACT: Goebel was almost kicked out of a high school biology class for conducting unethical research on frogs.

SEAN WELSH

Offensive Line
Springboro, OH (Springboro)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Sean Welsh

Welsh gave his verbal to Iowa in the summer and had a list of offers very similar to Goebel's offer sheet (West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, Air Force, Indiana, Miami, a bunch of MAC schools). He had a fun highlight reel (click here), too -- there are more pancakes there than the average Aunt Jemima ad.

Honestly, Welsh seems like a near-carbon copy of Goebel in a lot of ways: beyond the similar offer sheets, both guys have similar size (6-3, 275), played offensive tackle in high school but project as offensive guards in college, and are noted by ESPN ($) as playing a little high at times. I really hope this isn't the same guy scamming Iowa and getting two scholarships out of the process. In the meantime, Welsh also figures to redshirt and sit for a bit behind Iowa's established interior offensive line options. His commitment does open up the possibility of Iowa starting a Welsh and a Walsh (Jordan) on the offensive line at the same time, a prospect which no doubt fills Gary Dolphin with dread.

2013 Outlook: Redshirt

FUN FACT: While Welsh is a big fan of pancakes on the football field, he's strictly a waffle man on the breakfast table.

IKE BOETTGER

Tight End
Cedar Falls, IA (Cedar Falls)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 2★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Ike Boettger

If you play Iowa Football Recruiting Bingo (which we should probably set up for next year, no?), Boettger would be a one-man bingo. He's lightly recruited (Iowa was his only offer), he's an in-state kid (from just up the road in Cedar Falls), he played a different position in high school than he projects at in college (quarterback there, tight end here), and he grew up dreaming of playing for Iowa (he's a third-generation student at UI). He has the comfortably familiar personal story quirks that will make him a favorite of fans and media-types if he develops into a standout player. Also, he has a name that's great for chants: "I LIKE IKE!"

But that's all well down the river: Boettger is going from playing quarterback in high school to playing tight end in college, which is likely going to take quite a bit of development. He's going from throwing the ball to catching it and, oh yeah, there's also that whole "learning how to block" thing, which is kind of important to be a tight end at Iowa. Let's just file away Ike for a while; he needs to spend a lot of time with Chris Doyle, Brian Ferentz, and new tight ends coach DJ Hernandez before he sees the field at Iowa.

2013 Outlook: Redshirt

FUN FACT: "Ike" is short for Ichabod, but Boettger has never ridden a horse, headless or otherwise.

JON WISNIESKI

Tight End
West Des Moines, IA (Dowling)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 4★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Jon Wisnieski

Given Jake Campos' determination to attend Not-Iowa to play football (he chose Missouri first, then flipped to Iowa State), Wisnieski became the top-rated in-state commit to sign with Iowa. He's also the top-rated recruit in this overall class for Iowa, following the decommitments of David Kenney and Delano Hill. ESPN ranks Wisnieski as a 4* and Rivals and 247 Sports each rank him the best recruit in Iowa's class. If there is a "star" in this class, Wisnieski is probably the best bet at being that guy, at least according to the recruitniks.

Wisnieski chose Iowa over the likes of Iowa State, Kansas State, Purdue, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, and Ole Miss back in the summer. He has pretty standard height for a TE at Iowa (6-5), but at a listed weight of 215 lbs. he's going to need to spend some time with Chris Doyle before he sees the field at Iowa. ESPN says he "displays good hands and ... above average straight-line speed* ... and the willingness to take a hit to make the catch," all of which sounds promising. As always, playing time at tight end at Iowa will be determined by blocking proficiency, but if Wisnieski can get up to speed there quickly, it's not impossible to see him sliding into the rotation in 2014 and beyond after C.J. Fiedorowicz graduates next year. Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger-Coble flashed at the end of last season, but neither guy has exactly staked a claim to being the future of the position. (Meanwhile, Ray "Cobra Kai" Hamilton has fallen into limbo and has been rumored for a move to the defensive side of the ball.)

* Then again, if we didn't exploit the possibility of Fiedorowicz on seam routes more often (HINT: he's pretty much always open), why would we use Wisnieski there?

I think everyone in this post is likely to redshirt in 2013 (linemen pretty much always do at Iowa and Boettger will need a lot of time to transition from QB to something else), but if any of them see action in 2013, Wisnieski is by far the best bet. He could sneak onto special teams (where we've seen past true freshmen tight ends, like Fiedorowicz and Hamilton).

2013 Outlook: Possible Special Teams

FUN FACT: Wisnieski developed a career-threatening addiction to Fazoli's as a sophomore in high school, but managed to shake it with the help of a 12-step recovery program at Olive Garden.

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