My folks were in town last week. Whenever we're on vacation, the Bain family has one goal in mind:
Eat. Eat a lot. Eat a lot at a lot of cool places.
So, we did.
Best meal? Pork cheek and New York strip from Aposto. The cost makes that place pretty much a once-every-six-months type of thing for me. But, man, that New York strip might have been the best thing I've ever had.
Best Italian? Tumea and Sons. From start to finish, a wonderful dining experience with absurdly good, homemade onion rings.
Best dessert? Black Cat Ice Cream. I'm ashamed to say I didn't know what this was until a few weeks ago.
Best breakfast? We love Drake Diner and Waveland. But the Sunday brunch at Strudl Haus was divine — and very, very economical. All three of us ordered the "omelet with German sausage of the day" and left intensely satisfied.
Coolest thing? My parents have been to Des Moines twice now, but I only just showed them the Sculpture Park this time around. They absolutely loved it there. Of course, it helped to have some Black Cat in our hands as we strolled around.
Congratulations if you've made it this far.
On to the mailbag!
In your opinion, which in-state recruit will have the single-biggest impact on their team during the 2018 #iahsfb season? — @codygoodwin
You'll probably recognize that name as Cody Goodwin, our wrestling reporter. I really liked this question from Cody. He asked it a few weeks ago, but I wanted to wait until the right time to answer it.
Week One of high school football seems about right.
We're going to do a little twist for the mailbag, though: Which in-state recruit of the Hawkeyes is going to have the single-biggest impact in 2018?
I think it'll be Cedar Falls linebacker Jack Campbell, for two reasons.
One: The Tigers are one of the favorites to represent eastern Iowa in the Class 4A state title game this year. We ranked them No. 5 in the preseason Super 10. Campbell should get the opportunity to shine on the biggest high school stage this year, and I have no doubt he would.
Two: Last year, Campbell led a Cedar Falls defense that ranked first in 4A with just 10.09 points allowed per game. He and his 92.5 tackles return, and while this defense is still expected to be great, only one other of Cedar Falls' other top eight tacklers from a year ago returns. (Albeit, he was No. 2 behind Campbell.) The point: Campbell will likely be asked to do more for the Tigers' defense this season, and he has all the talent in the world to do so. Don't be shocked to see him crack 100 tackles. This kid is everywhere on a football field.
If you haven't seen Campbell play yet, try to do so this year. Cedar Falls plays in two marquee regular season games: Week Four vs. No. 3 Bettendorf and Week Nine at No. 6 Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Is the lack of Iowa football commits lately usual or on a slower pace than normal? — @Iowafanwilliams
I haven't noticed anything unusual about the pace of Iowa's football recruitment, no. There aren't a whole lot of commitments anywhere right now. There's a dead period from Aug. 1-31, so there's no face-to-face recruitment going on. It's mostly calls or texts to set up fall game-day visits.
Things will pick up again once the football season rolls around.
But Iowa has also done well to lock in 14 recruits before their senior years begin. Kirk Ferentz won't have as much work to do in the 2019 class this season as other coaches — especially considering that this year's recruiting class will be a little smaller than usual.
Wow. This kid is a sophomore and one of Iowa 8 best players?! Being from Tiffin he has to be an Iowa lean right? — @HawkeyeHunz
@HawkeyeHunz is referring to Clear Creek Amana 2020 defensive end T.J. Bollers, who became the first rising sophomore to ever make the Register's Iowa Eight football team this month.
Yes, Bollers plays his football 10 miles from Kinnick Stadium.
Yes, Bollers' father, Trevor Bollers, played for Iowa from 1996-98.
No, there is no lean at this point.
This kid's recruitment is just starting to take off. In addition to early offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska, Bollers is also fielding interest from Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Mississippi State, Stanford, Army, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. The Bollers camp recently sent film to UCLA, as well.
Any high-academics school will be a major player for Bollers. As good as he is on the football field, the future engineering major might be better in the classroom. If Northwestern offers, it would be a serious contender. Same with Stanford.
I talked a bit with Bollers on Wednesday. He's got four unofficial visits scheduled: Sept. 1 to Iowa, Sept. 15 to Iowa State, Nov. 10 to Minnesota and Nov. 17 to Nebraska. The Bollers family hopes to get out to Northwestern, Michigan State and Michigan if they can.
Iowa will be in this recruitment until the very end, as will Iowa State. Both those offers meant a great deal to Bollers, and the in-state schools will have their in-state appeal.
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_.