West Des Moines Dowling tight end Jon Wisnieski saw that the Iowa Hawkeyes were at 15 commitments and knew space was filling up. So, the 6-5, 215-pounder picked Iowa in mid-July.
Wisnieski told HawkeyeReport.com that he wasn’t planning to commit this summer, but he also realized time was about up, especially with Iowa.
“Everything this year has been kind of different because the whole recruiting process has been moved up quite a bit,” Wisnieski said. “I heard that Iowa might only have four scholarships left, so I started looking at things closer and it just solidified my decision. I’m excited about the opportunity at Iowa.”
Last season for the Maroons, Wisnieski caught eight passes for 119 yards and two TDs. On defense, he had 36 tackles, including one for loss, and an interception. As a senior, he caught 24 passes for 234 yards and four TDs.
“I’ve been thinking for a while now that I wanted to commit to Iowa, so today I got a hold of Coach Brian Ferentz and did it,” Wisnieski said. “He was really excited and said they can’t wait to get me in the program.”
Iowa was first to offer Wisnieski, who has a 4.2 GPA and has scored a 31 on the ACT. He picked the Hawkeyes over Nebraska, Iowa State, Purdue, Kansas State and Mississippi.
Wisnieski is the second potential tight end in this class. Cedar Falls’ Ike Boettger is listed as an “athlete,” but the fact that he worked at tight end in Iowa’s camp and his frame (6-5, 220) point to tight end. He also weighs in the 245 range right now, too.
The tight end position in fall of 2013 could be crowded with seven players potentially on scholarship.
Iowa's tradition with tight ends was a hook for Wisnieski.
Wisnieski kept an eye on Iowa tight ends past and present and noticed how they not only flourish in the Big Ten but also get a chance to shine in the NFL.
“They were the first school to contact me and the first to give me an offer,” Wisnieski told ESPN.com. “They’ve done a great job ever since then. I’m excited about the direction they’re going. Iowa City is not too far from where I live, and I’ll get a chance to get a great education.
“I think [tight ends success] was a very big factor for me. When you look like Dallas Clark and Tony Moeaki, you have to notice the success they had not only in college but the pros as well. It’s very exciting to be a part of that.”
Wisnieski, recruited by offensive line coach Brian Ferentz and defensive line coach Reese Morgan, is big enough to become a full-service TE, both a blocker and a pass catcher. Wisnieski was the No. 2 rate player in Iowa by Rivals.com and the No. 21 TE in the country.
In addition to tight end last season for Dowling, Wisnieski also played outside linebacker.
Scouting snippet (from ESPN.com)
The Positive: He displays good hands and can consistently extend to catch the ball. He demonstrates good body control and can adjust well on the move to passes thrown off target. He displays good concentration and the willingness to take a hit to make the catch. . . . He flashes the ability to generate good leg drive, create some push and demonstrates some nastiness as a blocker. There is nothing super flashy about Wisnieski, but with added size and further technical development he has the tools to develop into a well-rounded and good college tight end.
The Pause: He works from an inline position, but will need to work on his release and better protect himself. When challenged he allows defenders to get a piece of him and knock him off balance. At times he can get knocked around as he is trying to get into his route. . . . Size and continued strength are needed, but he displays the tools to be a productive inline blocker. He flashes the ability to deliver a good initial pop, does a good job of getting his hands on defenders and can play with good pad level. He flashes the ability to generate good leg drive, create some push and demonstrates some nastiness as a blocker.
What Iowa said . . .
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: “Strong family, great kid. Again, one of our early targets and we were fortunate enough to get him. Great athlete."
Head coach Kirk Ferentz: "Jon was a guy we were focused on right from day one. He impressed us not only on film but just everything about him. And that, to me, is the big part about recruiting. The more we got to know him and his family, the more we felt he would fit well in our program. I have high hopes for him as a player. I think he'll be a leader on our football team. And he does things really well and it appealed to us and he's a really serious young man."
What Rivals.com said . . .
Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt: “He’s more the receiving-type tight end. He's a guy who's going to be able to be a factor in the passing game. He's an outstanding athlete. I think he's a guy who could be in the Rob Gronkowski mold. I see that in Jon Wisnieski. I really like Wisnieski a lot. We [Rivals] have him at the top of the three stars, the No. 21 tight end in the country. He's not a low-ranked kid. No. 2 in the state. He's one I wish I would've been able to see in person a little bit more toward the end of his process, because if there's one player in this class that I'm a little worried about being too low, it's Jon Wisnieski."
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
Remember back in the day when Kirk Ferentz would reference "cookie cutter programs"? That was a comment on the programs that don't really have to recruit. Texas, USC, Ohio State, you know, the big boys. I think Iowa is close to "cookie cutter" at left tackle and tight end. The state of Iowa, and the midwest region in general, can produce both. Ferentz has maximized the cachet Iowa has at these positions. Wisnieski should fit right in, after a redshirt year more than likely.