Ankeny quarterback JJ Kohl: Here’s why I’m committing to Iowa State football

JJ Kohl
as told to Register recruiting reporter Alyssa Hertel

Editor’s note: Ankeny quarterback JJ Kohl, the Register’s No. 3 in-state 2023 football prospect, announced Monday that he will attend Iowa State. Kohl selected the Cyclones over Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin, among other programs. He explained his decision in this first-person account for the Register.

I am committing to Iowa State University.

Here’s the thing about quarterback recruiting: It’s a little different than the other positions. A lot of guys will commit earlier because programs usually only take one quarterback per class.

The reason my decision took so long was because I wanted to make sure I found the right spot. This is a commitment for the next few years of my life, so I want to make sure that I’m going to the right school.

And, for me, Iowa State is the right program.

MORE: How JJ Kohl rapidly rose to become one of the country's top QB prospects

Ankeny junior quarterback JJ Kohl announced his commitment to Iowa State football on Monday, April 18.

The Cyclones were the first team to offer me. They believed in me before anyone else. Not only were they the first team to take a chance on me, but they also showed the most interest throughout this whole process. That was a big thing for me. I wanted to go somewhere I was wanted, and Iowa State proved that they wanted me more than anywhere else.

That’s part of the “five-star culture” players talk about. I could see it’s a real thing. I was in the locker room after a couple Cyclones games last season, and I saw how the guys connected with each other. The brotherhood they have there is something special. And then you have the coaches saying they felt honored that I chose Iowa State, and I could tell it meant a lot to them that I committed.

One of the biggest things that factored into my decision is Iowa State’s ability to develop quarterbacks. You look at Brock Purdy, who started as a freshman. They kind of brought Purdy up — they had to develop him. I have faith that coaches Tom Manning and Joel Gordon are going to work as hard as they can to help me become the best player I can be.

There might be some people who think I picked Iowa State because my dad, Jamie Kohl, was a kicker for the Cyclones. That wasn’t really a part of my decision. I’m not going to Iowa State just because my dad went there, and I didn’t think about that much in the process. It definitely is a bonus, knowing that I get to go where my dad went to college.

Previously:Recruiting Mailbag: Which school has JJ Kohl eliminated? Who is Iowa State's most realistic 2023 basketball target?

Most programs can develop players, can help you be a part of something bigger. But the biggest thing for me was the people. Those are going to be the people you’re around all day, so I want to be around people who are like-minded, who are hungry, motivated, and who really want to be there.

Ankeny quarterback JJ Kohl practices at Ankeny High School, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

Joining a Power Five program, I know I’m going to be playing with and against the best of the best. It’s not always going to be easy. Coach Matt Campbell said he needs to have a quarterback he can lose with before he can have a quarterback he wins with. That stuck with me.

I’m thankful for everything that Iowa State has done for me and that the Cyclones provided me this opportunity to play college football.

Now that I’m committed, I’m focused on two things. I want to cap my high school football career with a state championship at Ankeny. And, while I’m doing that, I’m going to try and build a really special class for Iowa State football.

Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.