On Iowa’s media day Aug. 8, Kansas City, Mo., linebacker Aaron Mends committed to the Hawkeyes.
The 6-1, 204-pounder picked the Hawkeyes over Iowa State and North Dakota State. Iowa was the first team to offer Mends after he had a solid showing at Iowa’s one-day camp in early June. Iowa offered Mends as a middle linebacker. The Hawkeyes graduate three senior linebackers this season.
“The coaches were really excited about it,” Mends told HawkeyeReport.com. “They said I’ll be a great fit in their defense and they’re happy to have me be a Hawkeye.”
Mends is a linebacker and running back for Winnetonka High School, which improved to 1-1 with a victory last Friday night against Raytown South. At running back, Mends had 162 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
“In my 17 years of coaching, he’s the closest thing to a freak that I’ve ever seen physically,” Winnetonka coach Sterling Edwards told HawkeyeReport.com. “Since I met him as an eighth grader, he’s just been a specimen. At first, he kind of relied on just always being the biggest, fastest kid, but it’s been fun to watch him develop into a young man over the last four years.
“He knows how to play the game of football now as opposed to just being the biggest guy and faster and stronger than everybody. But he’s still a big weight room guy, or a strength and conditioning guy. He squats 600 pounds and he runs a 4.58 forty, so he’s got a great combination of strength and speed. He’s just a physically gifted young man.”
Last Friday, Mends and Winnetonka took over the fourth quarter scoring three touchdowns on runs of 4, 44, 52 yards. Mends got his first carry as a freshman.
“I think he could play inside linebacker or he could even play safety with the speed that he has, but he’ll probably end up being 225 pounds by the time it’s all said and done,” Edwards said. “But he runs well and moves well in space, so he could end up playing several different positions on the defensive side.”
Who’s a bigger pain to play against, Aaron Mends the running back or Aaron Mends the linebacker? Last season, he told the Kansas City Star that the RB is the tougher Mends.
“Hmm. That’s tough. I think I’d say Aaron Mends the running back,” he said. “I like running back more. It’s up to you to make the play. They give you the ball, and you get to go make something out of it.”
Mends is the 12th recruit for the Hawkeyes, with linebackers co-coach LeVar Woods, who recruits the Kansas City area for Iowa, being credited with his commitment. The national signing period begins Feb. 5.
Jay Scheel, QB 6-2, 170 Union High School (La Porte City) ****
Lucas LeGrand, OL, 6-5, 260 Dubuque Senior High School ***
Omar Truitt, CB, 5-11, 185, St. John’s College High School (Washington D.C.) ***
C.J. Hilliard, RB, 5-9, 192, St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) ***
Jyaz Jones, S, 6-0, 172, South Oak Cliff High School (Dallas, Texas) **
Jameer Outsey, OLB, 6-3, 220, Franklin High School (Somerset, N.J.) ***
Keegan Render, OL, 6-3, 310, Indianola High School ***
Matt Nelson, DE, 6-7, 249, Xavier High School (Cedar Rapids) ***
Mick Ellis, K, 5-9, 185, Lovejoy High School (Lucas, Texas) No rating
Terrance Harris, DE, 6-2, 240, Paramus Catholic High School (Paramus, N.J.) **
Ben Niemann, OLB, 6-3, 185, Sycamore (Ill.) High School **
Aaron Mends, LB, 6-1, 204, Winnetonka (Kansas City, Mo.) High School ***
* — Rivals.com star rating
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