Croot Loops: WR Jay Scheel

Iowa believes it has state's best athlete in Union's Scheel

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March 29, 2014 | 3:52 am

Everyone loved Jay Scheel's video after his sophomore season at La Porte City Union. It was enough to win a state title and earn him college scholarship offers.

Union's 42-28 shootout victory over ADM Adel in the 2011 3A semifinals showed Scheel in full throttle. He rushed 10 times for 117 yards, including an 82-ard TD. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 234 yards and three TDs, which included connections of 62, 57 and 70 yards.

Scheel didn't have to run the summer camp circuit. He received offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska. He picked Iowa last January and never wavered. All recruiting should be this easy, right?

"Jay became a phenom in our office about three years ago, I think it was his sophomore year," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I think it was a game on TV and our guys had a game on film there. Allof a sudden he became a legend in an hour. The guys are in the back there and pretty soon everybody's peaking at that tape, so we've known about Jay for quite a while."

The big curve for Scheel as he begins his college career is he's moving from quarterback, a dual-threat, do-everything QB, to wide receiver. This decision was made a while ago and Scheel is totally comfortable with it.

"I'm definitely excited to get there and do that," he said. "I played a few games at wide receiver on varsity. I'm excited for it. I'm really excited to get to Iowa and start playing college football."

Scheel could see that coming. Iowa recruited a quarterback in this class (Tyler Wiegers) and has a commitment for the 2015 class (Jack Beneventi).

"I like it," Scheel said. "They told me at first that it was my decision and that I could play QB or wide receiver. That was cool to know that I had that option. I'm excited to play wide receiver in college."

Basics: Union High School (La Porte City, Iowa), 6-1, 180, wide receiver

Dent the depth chart in ’14? — Tough call, but probably not. Scheel played his senior year with a nagging injury, so he'll want everything to heal. There's always a chance with a wide receiver, who could have special teams return value. Iowa does bring four redshirt freshmen (Andre Harris, Derrick Mitchell, A.J. Jones, Derrick Willies) into the fold this season, so wide receiver was less of a priority in recruiting. Plus, Iowa has had Scheel's commitment since last January, so it probably was finished WR shopping very early. Leave room for the possibilities, but Scheel probably spends the year building his body.

Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison — Marvin McNutt (Scheel isn't as broad as McNutt, who ended up a 215-pounder as a fifth-year senior. Part of this compare probably goes to the fact that McNutt also was a high school quarterback. Maybe Scheel is a little quicker. He isn't as big and broad. Let's see if this compare comes closer to reality over time.)

ESPN.com scouting snippet — Shows excellent mobility. Can really strain a defense when on the move outside of the pocket. Can be quite sudden when avoiding in the pocket as well as making people miss downfield as a ball carrier. Will attack the width and depth of the field when on time from the pocket or when on the move. Balls arrive with very good accuracy a high percentage of the time. Has scored as a passer, runner, returner and WR. . . . Scheel is a really good athlete and has upside as a QB as well. Tough to project how he'll be used, but he possesses the necessary skill set. Based on the offensive scheme, he could remain at quarterback, especially if there is a heavy run influence from under center.

What Iowa said . . .

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on the possibilities with Scheel's open-field ball skills: "We're just really excited about him. He's a tremendous young guy, tremendous personality, great family. We think he'll be a really dynamic player for us. Our intention is to play him at receiver, but who knows what we'll do with him in other ways, but to get the ball in his hands, if we're smart coaches, we'll figure out how to do that."

Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: “I think he's the best athlete in the state. He battled through an injury this year, so I don't think he was 100 percent healthy throughout the season. His football is all in front of him. You watch him off of junior tape. That kid can do some things that we haven't had a lot of guys be able to do.”

Specifically with Scheel?: “Agility, everything. He is a phenomenal athlete.”

On QB to WR: "I think there was a little bit of a hesitation at first, but I think he knows his best position is wide receiver."

What Rivals.com said . . .

Midwest recruiting coordinator Josh Helmholdt: “He didn't do any camping, but we made him a four-star early on because when you talk about the speed and athleticism he has at that length, that size, he's north of 6-feet and he's one of these class A athletes where he just brings a lot of talent to the field. He can do a lot of things, a lot of things. He played some quarterback. With the football in his hands, he's a scary opponent for defenses to try to figure out how to handle. He's long and he's athletic.”

What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .

Scheel is extremely slippery. If he gets into the open field, he doesn't seem to take a straight hit. He has quick enough feet to keep defenders from breaking down on him and delivering a blow (at least on the Class 3A/2A level in Iowa, no one could touch him). As a read-option QB, the YouTubes reminded me of Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch. Scheel seemed very comfortable treading water and waiting for something to break or block open. Coaches seem excited that he's a little taller than 6-1. Also, Scheel seems to have the body control that would allow you to think the transition to WR will be smooth. Iowa is starting to gather athletes with the potential to do damage in space (Akrum Wadley, Jonathan Parker). Will Iowa fully commit to those types of packages? Or will it be good with a safe running game that doesn't produce many negative plays? That continues to play out.

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