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Pierschbacher no ordinary lineman

[ 0 ] January 14, 2013 |
By Pat Harty | Iowa City Press-Citizen

Cedar Falls native Ross Pierschbacher by all accounts is no ordinary high school offensive lineman.

All you have to do is look at his individual accolades and his growing list of scholarship offers to realize that.

Pierschbacher is coveted by many elite programs, including Notre Dame and Oklahoma, but he resisted the temptation to leave the state in order to be a Hawkeye, announcing his commitment Saturday on Twitter.

And he did so coming off a season in which Iowa lost its final six games to finish 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the Big Ten.

Pierschbacher committed when he didn’t have to. He’s only a junior in high school. His commitment won’t become official until February 2014 when he can sign a national letter of intent.

Pierschbacher could have easily let his recruitment play out and seen where it took him. He could have waited to see how many scholarship offers came his way.

He could have taken the five official recruiting trips that are allowed under NCAA rules and been wined and dined by some of the best programs in the country.

And he could have waited to see how Iowa performs next season to make sure the program is moving in the right direction under coach Kirk Ferentz.

Pierschbacher could have done all those things, but instead he chose to join forces with Ferentz at a time when many are skeptical of the Iowa program.

Ferentz has seen better days with regard to his popularity. Iowa has lost 17 of its last 29 games dating back to late in the 2010 season, and the buck ultimately stops with Ferentz.

One verbal commitment from a high school junior hardly will cure what’s ailing the Iowa football program right now. But it certainly sends a message of hope at a time when hope is desperately needed.

It also shows that Ferentz can still convince a kid from instate, who has multiple scholarship offers, that the best place to achieve his football dreams is right here at home.

We can assume that Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads stressed to Pierschbacher how incredibly proud he would be to coach him in college. Rhoads also might have reminded Pierschbacher about Iowa State’s two-game winning streak against Iowa and about which instate team played in a bowl game this past season.

Rhoads has shown that he’s no pushover. He’s gregarious. He’s determined. And he now has a resume to go with his personality and work ethic.

But Rhoads still was fighting an uphill battle with Pierschbacher, who is thought to be the first member of the 2014 senior class to commit to Iowa.

In addition to growing up a Hawkeye fan, Pierschbacher is an offensive lineman, which is Ferentz’s area of expertise. Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz, is the Iowa offensive line coach and a former Hawkeye offensive lineman.

“I felt really comfortable with it,” Pierschbacher told the Press-Citizen shortly after announcing his commitment. “The stability of the program, I feel good about Iowa. You can’t go wrong with an offensive lineman going to Iowa.”

From Eric Steinbach to Robert Gallery to Marshal Yanda to Reilly Reiff, it’s been proven over and over under Ferentz that if you work hard, are fortunate enough to stay healthy and have the talent to succeed as an offensive lineman, chances are you will succeed.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Pierschbacher supposedly has the talent and the work ethic to excel at the highest level in college. You don’t earn a four-star ranking by multiple recruiting services and receive scholarship offers from elite programs such as Notre Dame and Oklahoma because somebody in your family knows somebody.

You do so because you’re good.

I’ve seen Pierschbacher play twice — once as a sophomore and once as a junior — and both times he dominated his competition. He moved well for a kid his size, was fundamentally sound and played until the whistle blew.

He appears to have all the intangibles. But with recruiting you never know what will happen. It’s an inexact science despite all the Internet websites that now cover recruiting on a second-by-second basis.

Pierschbacher won’t help Iowa next fall, and he’s just one piece to a large puzzle.

But the timing of his commitment could not have been better. The Iowa football program needed some good news, and the best news out of season usually deals with recruiting.

Pierschbacher is now recruiting for Iowa, with fellow high school junior Jay Scheel a top priority. Scheel, who attends Union High School in LaPorte City, already has scholarship offers from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa State. He plays quarterback in high school, but is mostly being recruited as an athlete by colleges.

Pierschbacher’s job is to pave the way for others on the football field. He now wants to do the same thing for Iowa on the recruiting trail.

Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or pharty@press-citizen.com.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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