Recruiting roundup: Wirfs hanging with heavyweights, updates around Iowa

Chris Cuellar

Tristan Wirfs suffered some self-doubt last week ahead of his trip to San Antonio, Texas for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Could a Mount Vernon senior really compete with the most talented high school football prospects in the country? How would a raw future Hawkeye — whose mind had been on wrestling — handle new practices and a nationally-televised game?

Once he flew home Sunday, Wirfs realized preparing for the all-star game wasn’t even the toughest test of his last month.

Tristan Wirfs played left tackle for the West team at last Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

“Actually, dropping 35 pounds to make weight for wrestling was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Wirfs said.

“Going into the game, I really thought I was going to get pushed around and people would wonder why I was there. But I did so much better than I thought I would. I feel like I held my own.”

RELATED: How Iowans fared at Army All-American Bowl

Wirfs was the second-string left tackle for the West team last Saturday, blocking for an offense that featured Iowa City West receiver Oliver Martin and former Iowa commit Eno Benjamin.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound athlete faced“insane competition” after more than a month away from football. Besides offseason camps and showcases, Wirfs had only ever seen in-state opponents across from him in pads.

“Those guys are so good,” Wirfs said. “I think my technique got better in a week just by watching and going up against the guys down there. Seeing how they do it and catching on. It was crazy.”

The week’s experience ended up being Wirfs’ ultimate confidence booster. He backed up and learned from Foster Sarell at left tackle, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, according to 247 Sports.

He roomed with four-star Michigan commit Chuck Filiaga, made friends with fellow Hawkeye commit A.J. Epenesa’s crew, and had a caravan of family and friends drive down from Iowa for the game.

Wrestling is “unfinished business” for Wirfs right now — he’s fighting to make Iowa’s 285-pound limit for heavyweights — but his football future looks bright. And Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt wrote Tuesday that his San Antonio performance may have pushed him into four-star territory.

“A lot of those guys were ranked a lot higher than me, but I tried not to let that intimidate me,” Wirfs said. “I just went out and did my best in practice and one-on-ones, and I think did alright.”

Wirfs plans to sign with Iowa’s 2017 class on Feb. 1.

Cy-Hawk scouting report

ISU opens 2017 by focusing on 2018

The NCAA’s recruiting calendar opened the new year with a dead period, so the Cyclone coaching staff decided to work ahead. At least three offers went out to speedy high school juniors, including receiver Carson Schleker (Allen, Texas), safety Kendrick Torain (Tampa, Fla.), and four-star cornerback Marquis Williams (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

MORE CYCLONES: Cornerback commits, enrolls early

Add in a planned visit from three-star linebacker Brian Johnson (Manvel, Texas) and Iowa State seems insistent on getting ahead of the recruiting cycle.

Hawkeye QB commit confirms

The retirement of Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Greg Davis affected no recruits more than Peyton Mansell, the lone quarterback commitment in Iowa’s 2017 class. The three-star pass-slinger is from Davis’ home state of Texas and had been committed since June. Mansell made plenty of Hawkeye fans happy last Friday when he confirmed his verbal.

“I am still 100 percent committed to the University of Iowa and have faith that coach (Kirk) Ferentz and the staff will hire an exceptional OC and QB coach that will be a very good fit for the program,” Mansell posted on Twitter.

Mansell didn’t have to wait long for a new play-caller with Brian Ferentz’s hire announced Monday.

LEISTIKOW: How will Brian Ferentz affect Iowa recruiting?

Iowa JUCO gem

Among the junior college commitments and signings that slipped under the radar in December was Austin Ahrendt, a former Sioux City East prep now headed to TCU.

Austin Ahrendt catches a pass for Sioux City East at Waukee in 2014.

The 6-3 receiver caught 98 passes for 1,228 yards as a high school senior in 2014 and opted to continue his career at Dayton, a nonscholarship program in FCS. But after playing in seven games for the Flyers as a freshman, Ahrendt transferred to Iowa Western Community College. He caught 21 passes for 273 yards in his one and only season with the Reivers, committing to TCU and signing his letter of intent on Dec. 16.

Undecided updates

Iowa City High star Nate Wieland has been committed to Northern Illinois since June, but his recruitment is suddenly heating up close to home. He’ll officially visit the Hawkeyes on Jan. 20. The 6-2, 215-pound athlete played quarterback for the Little Hawks, but likely projects on the defensive side of the ball.

City High quarterback Nate Wieland bursts through a hole in the Muscatine defense to score the Little Hawks' first touchdown late in the first quarter at Frank Bates Field Friday, October 7, 2016.

Creston senior Chase Shiltz was a North Dakota State wrestling commit until football drew him back in after the high school season. The powerful running back (and No. 1 wrestler) currently has a walk-on opportunity from Iowa State and an offer from Northwest Missouri State and may be a late decision-maker. Shiltz is 5-10, 190 pounds, and rushed for 5,329 yards and 85 touchdowns over the last three seasons in Class 3A.

Waukee offensive lineman Erik Sorensen is fielding Division II offers, and still has a couple regional official visits left to make. According to coach Scott Carlson, the 6-6, 305-pound tackle has heard from UNI, too.