Nate Meier's production at Fremont-Mills is video game kind of stuff. He led the Knights to the Eight-Man state football championship last fall while rushing for 2,494 yards and 57 touchdowns. He also recorded 112 total tackles, including 34 for losses, on defense.
That's a full career much less season.
The "eight-man football" part of that caught your eye, didn't it? What do these numbers mean? I watched his videos and, at some points, he looked like a loose bear in a childrens zoo.
It's an uncommon leap. The only example that leaps to mind in my 13 seasons of covering Iowa football is Chad Greenway. He went from nine-man football in Mount Vernon, S.D., to all-Big Ten linebacker for the Hawkeyes to Pro Bowl linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings.
The other example is Tyler Blum, who signed with the Hawkeyes after starring in eight-man football at Walnut in southwest Iowa. Blum came to the Hawkeyes with a U.S. Army All-American Bowl appearance on his resume. He had a back surgery and his career never really took hold, switching from defensive line to offensive line.
Meier is a major-league banner carrier.
Going into his junior year at Fremont-Mills, the Knights had only two winning seasons in 27 years. The Knights went 25-1 with two UNI-Dome appearances and the school's first state title in any sport in the last two.
Meier's only scholarship offer was from South Dakota after the Knights' 81-0 victory over Murray. He picked up another from Northern Iowa in January.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Iowa offensive line coach Reese Morgan made the offer in person, Meier said, on a January visit to F-M. Meier verbally committed after visiting the campus in Iowa City in late January.
He said Iowa was "always in the picture." But he was heavily considering walking on at Nebraska, a place he visited three times last fall, until the past few days.
"They were pretty stressful, but it's stress-free after today," Meier said. "When I went to visit Iowa, I thought I could see myself there. Of course, now I am.
"Reese Morgan came down and said, 'We're not going to mess around with a walk-on, we want you really bad. We're going to offer you a scholarship.' It's pretty exciting."
Nothing out there. Eight-man football in western Iowa doesn't get scouted by ESPN or Rivals. It might only be scouted by coaches from Iowa and Nebraska, probably Iowa Western, too.
After watching his video, I'll stand by "bear at a childrens zoo."
What Iowa coaches said
Head coach Kirk Ferentz: He's an interesting guy. If you've seen him on tape or seen him play, he's really an interesting guy. It's eight-man football, and I think Chad was nine-man football, Chad Greenway, I'm not suggesting they're the same player, but they are a little bit the same in that they play both ways. Really are dominant players and guys that watch the film. The thing that jumped out at you is they really enjoyed playing. That was pretty evident. He really competed. I was a little confused the for a minute, you know. He was running the ball to the right, and everybody stopped. I was trying to figure out what the heck happened because the white line was over there. It's a smaller field, and it took me a while to figure that out. But he's a really high energy guy. He's a guy that I think has a chance to play a couple different positions for us. I think he'd like to start at running back. We'll put him there and see what happens and kind of go from there.
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: What Nate Meier ends up playing . . . He's bigger than [Mitch] King and [Matt] Kroul were when we brought them in here. I know he wants to start out and see if he can do something at the running back position. You guys watched his tape. This kid is a great football player. I mean, he loves to play football. We'll let him see what he can do and figure it out.
What I think
When the possibility of playing running back suddenly shifts to defensive line or something less glamorous, the fallout isn't always pretty. If you're on Twitter and follow Iowa football, you saw that play out a little bit with Rodney Coe. He signed with Iowa in 2011, failed to qualify and is now a running back at Iowa Western Community College. He's also in the 260-270 range. There are more D-linemen who weigh that than running backs. Iowa communicated to him that it's thinking D-line. He didn't like hearing that and it played out on Twitter. Cooler heads have since prevailed. We'll see where he ends up.
Is Meier a fullback possibility? Sure, definitely. But I always think the best Iowa fullbacks just sort of happen. Brett Morse came in as a linebacker or something else and ended up being a terrific fullback. Tom Busch started as a linebacker and became a battering ram of a fullback. Brad Rogers had running back dreams and now has a chance to become a very good fullback.
The phrase "bigger than King and Kroul" sort of tips Iowa's hand, does it not.
I'm thinking Meier is a future D-tackle. Probably a pretty disruptive one.