After his recruitment significantly picked up in recent weeks, City High’s Nate Wieland knew an Iowa offer could be coming shortly.
Wieland announced the news via Twitter on Thursday morning, giving the two-star athlete his first Power 5 offer. Wieland has been committed to Northern Illinois since June as a quarterback, but the Hawkeyes will likely look at the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder as a linebacker or potential safety.
“Rather than trying to evaluate him currently as a defensive player,” said Allen Trieu, Scout.com’s Midwest football recruiting manager, “you just look at his size and his toughness and his athleticism and some of the intangibles he brings to the table, and (it’s), ‘We’ll teach him the rest of it.’
“Because those schools have done it before. I think you feel comfortable that they’re seeing something that they can work with.”
A potential flip could be coming shortly. Wieland wasn’t shy Tuesday in saying that a Hawkeyes offer — even a late one — would make it a “tough” decision, adding that Iowa’s hometown affection has “got a huge effect” on his collegiate choice. After cancelling his official visit to Iowa last weekend to avoid any risk of ruffling Northern Illinois' feathers, Wieland will now visit the Hawkeyes this weekend with an offer in hand.
Wieland thrived this season in quarterbacking the Little Hawks to an 8-3 ledger with a quarterfinal appearance. He racked up 2,412 combined yards — 1,671 passing, 741 rushing — and 20 total touchdowns, delivering a solid bounce-back year after a severe leg injury wiped out most of his junior season.
"I just go way back," Little Hawks coach Dan Sabers said, "starting for us as a sophomore, enduring some tough times there — we were 0-5 — and how he just continued to grow and develop and learn from every situation that he got put into. And then the injury and all that.
"So to see a kid get offered by your hometown, Big Ten university, that’s pretty special. It’s good for our program. It’s good for a lot of things. I’m certainly proud and appreciative of all the efforts he’s put in to create that opportunity for himself and for City High."
Although Wieland saw minimal defensive snaps this season — he racked up just 7.5 total tackles and two TFLs — Sabers is confident his former quarterback could make a successful transition.
"He’s shown by his running ability that he’s not afraid of contact or sticking his nose in there," Sabers said. "He’s a smart football player. Obviously, playing quarterback for all these years would certainly lead to being able to read an offense pretty well and be able to adjust to things and so on. He was just so valuable to us. We played him some on defense in some of the games, and he certainly did well.
"And following Iowa for years, they always take people and say, 'Hey, we’re going to fit you in here.’ And it usually works out pretty well for them."
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.