Nathan Bazata doesn't come with a mile-high stack of offers. In fact, it was Iowa and South Dakota State.
Bazata is the exact player Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz talked about this spring when he talked about a renewed effort to unearth recruits who aren't on everyone's list. Just after spring football started, Ferentz moved Eric Johnson from tight ends to recruiting coordinator and defensive line assistant with the emphasis being "recruiting coordinator," a title Johnson has held since 2003.
Ferentz talked about getting Johnson on the road a little more during the season.
"If you look at the guys we look at, I think that could be a real value for us," Ferentz said. "The obvious players, the Tony Moeaki, it doesn't take a long time to figure those guys out. If this will help get us another Karl Klug-type guy or two per class, that would really be a benefit."
Bazata might be exactly that Karl Klug-type guy. A small-town football warrior who plugs in, buys in and comes out an NFL-caliber D-lineman five years later.
D-line coach Reese Morgan found Bazata in Howells, Neb., where Bazata has been a dominant force on the eight-man level. Last season, he had 115 tackles and nine sacks again earning first-team all-state honors. Bazata's Howells High School team beat Giltner in the state semifinals. Giltner was led by Drew Ott, who'll be a freshman D-end at Iowa this fall.
Bazata also has finished second at heavyweight in the state tournament the last two years, finishing his junior season with a 39-1 record. Last weekend, Bazata attended an all-Nebraska football combine in Lincoln and led all participants with 26 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press.
He bench presses 375 pounds and squats 480, and he has a 31 ˝-inch vertical. Bazata also runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds. Put that on a 6-2, 270-pound frame and you have the makings of a beastly D-lineman.
Nebraska, Kansas and Kansas State also were interested. Iowa saw what it liked and jumped.
"What really sold me was when I got to sit down with three players, two d-linemen and one o-lineman, and just talk to them about things," Bazata told HawekeyeReport.com. "They gave their honest opinion about the coaches and what happens at Iowa. That made me want to do it [commit] right away."
Bazata, the Hawkeyes’ fifth commitment of the 2013 class, Bazata said Iowa coaches are leaning toward defensive tackle, but he also could play center for the Hawkeyes.
“I’m just going to bust my butt in the weight room and expect for anything to happen,” Bazata said.
David Kenney, DE, 6-2, 250 Pike High School (Indianapolis, Ind.) ****
Derrick Willies, WR, 6-3, 190 Rock Island (Ill.) High School ***
Delano Hill, FS, 6-1, 190 Cass Tech High School (Detroit, Mich.) ***
Colin Goebel, OL 6-4, 275 Naperville (Ill.) North High School ***
Nathan Bazata, DL, 6-2, 270 Howells (Neb.) High School ***
* = Rivals.com’s star rating