One of Iowa’s top 2018 football prospects already thinks his recruitment has gone on long enough.
Creston junior Trevor Downing is expected to make a commitment announcement in the next week, which will take a powerful three-star offensive lineman off the board in a lean class.
Iowa State became Downing’s first scholarship offer back in 2015 and is tentatively considered the front-runner over Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Kansas State.
“He’s so explosive coming out of a stance, and he’s been a dominant run-blocker for us for two years,” Creston head coach Brian Morrison said Wednesday afternoon. “Even as a sophomore, when schools started noticing him, he didn’t play like a sophomore.
“The sky is the limit with this kid. We’ve had a lot of great linemen through here, and he ranks up there right now with one more year left.”
Downing is 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, and he will become a four-year varsity player for the Panthers in the fall. An overwhelming blocker at offensive tackle for Creston’s run-heavy scheme, scouts project the Class 3A standout as a collegiate guard.
Rivals rates Downing as the No. 2 prospect in Iowa’s current junior class, behind only four-star defensive end John Waggoner from Dowling Catholic.
“For Iowa State, landing Trevor Downing would mean one of this staff’s biggest commitments to date,” said Alex Halsted, Iowa State recruiting reporter for 247 Sports. “(Head coach) Matt Campbell has stated time and again how he wants to keep kids in-state. Especially one that other Power Five schools in the area have fought for, too.”
The Cyclones gained an early advantage through Downing’s interests — he’d like to study agriculture in college — and recruiting attention. Campbell offered the then-sophomore just four days after taking over for previous head coach Paul Rhoads. His second offer took almost a year to arrive.
“Iowa State has gone to visit him with every opportunity the NCAA permits, legally,” Halsted said. “On one of the last days in January, they sent Matt Campbell, (recruiting coordinator) Alex Golesh, (running game coordinator) Lou Ayeni and (defensive coordinator) Jon Heacock to go sit in the stands and watch one of his basketball games.
“He’s been a top priority. If they can get his commitment, it puts some finality to all that hard work they’ve put in.”
The Hawkeyes made an offer and began their strong push in November. Minnesota and Missouri followed suit. Kansas State became the fifth Power Five suitor for record-breaking running back Chase Shiltz’s lead blocker.
The Panthers have won 24 games over the past three seasons, including a UNI-Dome trip in 2014, and they rushed for more than 300 yards per game last fall.
“He’s just got to continue to grow,” Morrison said. “Trevor is the hardest-working kid in the weight room right now and does all the little things you want a great player to do. This summer will be big for him, no doubt, but he just wants to be the best player he can be.”
Impressive pancake blocks on film and strong showings at various college camps forced Iowa State to be determined throughout its pursuit of Downing.
He even took final visits to Minnesota and Iowa over the last week, the latter featuring a long conversation with former Hawkeye star and NFL All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda, who just so happened to be on-hand in Iowa City. Both schools made strong appeals to a player scouts believe could become a multi-year starter on the interior.
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“He and his family thought the decision would be made by the end this week,” Morrison said. “But after the visits he took and coaches coming down to talk to him at school, I think he wants to make sure he makes the right decision and weighs all of his options.”
College football is an exciting opportunity, but the fanfare of recruiting has pushed a farm and family-focused Downing to decide on a school before the summer of his senior year. The NCAA’s new early signing day for 2018 recruits will last from Dec. 20-22.
“I’ve enjoyed it up until the last few weeks,” Downing told KMA Radio on Monday. “It’s starting to get old.”