Brant Gressel wears a Michigan-looking football helmet and uniform and is from the heart of Ohio State country, Centerville.
But he’s going to play football at the University of Iowa.
Gressel committed to the Hawkeyes on Monday night, becoming Iowa’s sixth commitment before the end of April, a record in head coach Kirk Ferentz’s era. The 6-foot-2, 283-pounder joins Howells (Neb.) High School’s Nate Bazata as defensive tackle recruits for the 2013 class. Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike’s David Kenney, Iowa’s first commit in this class, is a defensive end.
After 2012, Iowa will have lost eight defensive linemen, so the re-stocking of the front four was and remains job No. 1 for this class.
What is Iowa looking for in D-linemen?
“For us, it’s like drafting the third, fourth, fifth rounds,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Who really projects, has upside, that type of thing? Quite often, that’s how our recruiting goes at that position. It’s just a hard position to recruit, and the obvious prospects tend to disappear pretty quickly. There are things we look for.”
Ferentz was asked exactly what it is Iowa looks for.
“It’s hard to play defense if you can’t move, I know that,” he said. “. . . Depending on what you do and what our guys do, you’re going to have to be able to move a little bit. They’ve got to be tough, and they’ve got to be fairly smart. I think there are some commonalities there. If a guy’s got pride, then we’ll work hard enough.
“The work part, we can give him that, but there are certain things we can’t teach.”
Gressel seems to have the work part down.
According to a post at the Dayton Daily News, Gressel won a letter as a freshman defensive tackle at Centerville High. Then, as a sophomore, he switched to center as a sophomore and started one game. Last season, he switched back to tackle. Monday, he accepted a Big Ten football scholarship to play the position.
Gressel thanked his coach, Ron Ullery, for staying confident in him.
“I just needed to hear that,” Gressel told The News. “I calmed down and I had a great junior year because I had to. I couldn’t afford to mess up.”
Gressel, who ended up being the first recruit O-line coach Brian Ferentz has landed for the Hawkeyes, held more than a dozen scholarship offers when he committed to the Hawkeyes, including Cincinnati, Louisville, Minnesota, N.C. State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Gressel, who made 54 tackles, 11 TFL, and five sacks last season, committed not long after visiting Iowa City.
“He is an extremely physical player,” Ullery told HawkeyeReport.com. “He’s very strong and gets off the ball really well. He used to play offensive line, so he can get off the ball quickly and uses his hands really well. He has a great motor and plays hard on every snap.”
Ullery doesn’t believe Ohio State will swoop in on Gressel, who holds a 3.75 GPA and will pursue engineering. Ohio State has scouted Centerville and has secured a commitment from O-lineman Evan Lisle.
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, DT, 6-2, 270 Howells (Neb.) High School ***
Brant Gressel, DT, 6-2, 283 Centerville (Ohio) High School ***
* = Rivals.com’s star rating