Hawkeye film room: New OL recruit Noah Fenske is a three-sport athlete — and it shows
Iowa added its fourth 2019 recruit Friday afternoon in three-star offensive lineman Noah Fenske, an in-state prospect out of New Hampton.
Fenske, who checks in at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, helped pave the way for a rushing attack that gained 1,808 yards last season. He also added 24 tackles, four solo tackles and three solo sacks as a defensive lineman.
Iowa offered Fenske at its Feb. 17 junior day. He picked the Hawkeyes over offers from North Dakota and South Dakota State.
"It was a gut feeling," Fenske told HawkCentral of his decision. "I felt like I was at home."
Rivals gives Fenske three stars and does not have him ranked. The 247Sports Composite also gives the Hawkeye pledge three stars and ranks him the No. 8 prospect in the state for the 2019 class.
Beyond his obvious size, Fenske boasts some impressive athleticism. He also plays basketball and throws for New Hampton, and he used to wrestle, too. He's got a 32.1-inch vertical and a 4.77 40-yard dash, according to his Hudl profile.
Let's take a closer look at what stands out about Fenske in this Hawkeye film room.
Fenske certainly looks like a three-sport athlete out there: When it comes to offensive lineman prospects, college football programs are (almost) always going to pick the better athlete over the better technician. It's simple — you can teach technique, not athleticism. And throughout his 19-minute film package, Fenske shows off the foot speed, power, hip flexibility, leverage and acceleration that'll open college coaches' eyes. Need proof? Iowa offered Fenske two weeks after he released this film package. He plays offensive guard, offensive tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end for New Hampton, and there are plenty of highlights from all four positions. But Iowa recruited him as an offensive guard. And his best display of athleticism from that position comes at the 11:43 mark, when New Hampton calls a counter run: After the ball is snapped, Fenske comes off his left guard spot, quickly runs to be the back's lead blocker, blasts through the open hole on the right side of the line (while looking like a running back, himself) and executes the lead block.
But none of that is to say Fenske's technique is bad: While his selling point is his athleticism, Fenske's technique shows promise, too. Let's start with his run-blocking. At the 2:30 mark, you'll see Fenske come off the ball well, use strong hands and arms to initiate contact with the defender, keep his arms bent and use a churning lower body to finish off his block and push the defender to the turf. At the 5:00 mark, he does everything the same, but he stays lower and maintains better leverage during the block to drive his man way off his spot; this is one of his better blocks in the film package. Now, to his pass blocking (most of his examples come at left tackle). At 10:15, you'll see two examples in a row in which Fenske patiently waits for and doesn't over-pursue the defensive end, keeps his head up throughout the block and uses strong hands and arms to keep the defensive end at bay. Textbook.
Questions regarding Fenske's level of competition: Fenske likely would have been noticed by power programs sooner had he not played in Class 2A. He consistently lines up against smaller linemen, sometimes close to 80-100 pounds lighter than him. That'll be the biggest question surrounding Fenske, then: How will he adjust to a massive jump in competition at the college level? Of course, Iowa has had plenty of success with small-school linemen before. Parker Hesse, for example, went to Waukon, another 2A Iowa high school. When it comes to prospects playing inferior competition, you just want to see them dominate — play with extreme motor and aggressiveness, even though they probably don't need to. And Fenske certainly dominates. He shoves his men 3, 4, 5 yards off their spot and routinely makes gaping holes for his running back. At the 7:20 mark, you'll see two straight plays in which Fenske completely controls his man from the left guard position, turns his man around and opens holes for runs to his side of the line.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.