If you go off the picture above, the pickup truck on a rural road with the phone lines and fields, you might think Drew Ott comes with theme music from "Friday Night Lights."
As detailed in this terrific piece from the Omaha World-Herald, it took some work to put the 6-4, 245-pounder on the map from small Giltner, Neb., which plays eight-man football not too far west off I-80.
He wants coaches from big-time schools to see him in the flesh, as opposed to film. Not that he doesn’t look good on film, but when you play for Giltner High, which plays eight-man football, film that shows you running over undersized and outmatched opponents tends not to carry as much weight with recruiters as say a highlight film of a prospect doing the same in Class 5A in Texas.
“I definitely have to stand out,” Ott said of his camp visits. “Otherwise they’re just going to think I’m just another average kid.”
Iowa offered in June and Ott accepted. He was straightforward about his fandom for Nebraska, but the Huskers' had a small class, around 15, so they were highly selective.
Again, much like eight-man hammertime Nate Meier, Ott's numbers are otherworldly -- 52 receptions for 960 yards and 18 touchdowns and 122 tackles (46 solo). In his career, Ott had 629 total tackles. If tackling is a lost art, at least Ott has had a lot of practice.
Again, the stats with eight-man, what do they really mean?
Iowa uses its camp to find players and maybe even get jump on the competition with a quick offer. Ott was in Iowa's camp. Ott was in a lot of college camps last summer. He ended up with offers from Kansas State, Ohio and North Dakota State.
He also earned Parade all-American, an honor given to just 53 players around the country. Ott joins Scott Frost (a former Nebraska QB) as the only Nebraskans outside of Lincoln and Omaha to be named Parade all-American.
"He's done a great job on offense, gone to camps and gotten recognized for what he does on the field," Giltner coach Jeff Ashby told the Grand Island (Neb.) Independent. "It doesn't matter what size of school you play at, when you go up against the big boys at camps, you can tell who is a football player."
From ESPN.com: He will need to adjust to playing a more equal and at times better caliber of opponent and will need to improve technique and be able to rise to the challenge. The level of ball that Ott is coming out of obviously raises some concerns as he will likely have to face a bigger jump than most prospects. Players from eight-man ball have successfully made the jump to FBS ball before though so it can be down and Ott displays some raw tools to work with and develop. He will likely be a bit of a project and we feel will need a red-shirt if not more time to develop, but with some patience he could pay dividends a little down the road as he does have ability and displays upside.
What Iowa coaches said
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: He was a very productive player as a middle linebacker and tight end. Again, he's a guy who we think can develop into a very good defensive end. [Can come in and help right away?] We're still looking at that, too. Some may have to, but for the most part, it is a developmental group (talking about the D-ends in this class).
What I think
Ott is a defensive end waiting to happen. What kind of defensive end? He's 6-4, 245 already, so a Matt Roth defensive end isn't out of the question. Roth was listed at 270 when he was a senior at Iowa. Is that a reachable goal for Ott? Does Ott have the same kind of "punch" that Roth has? That remains to be seen. Is Ott more of a "stay at home" type of D-end? Does he cover everything around him, including the run, and occasionally get to the passer? Remains to be seen, but he's a D-end, especially with the possibility of three D-tackles (Jaleel Johnson, Faith Ekakitie and Nate Meier) emerging from this class.