Meet Jace Andregg, the Cedar Rapids wide receiver with a 40-inch vertical and Power 5 potential
CEDAR RAPIDS, Ia. — Northern Illinois safeties coach Tyler Yelk texted Cedar Rapids Prairie head coach Mark Bliss over the weekend. He said he needed to come meet face to face with Jace Andregg, one of Bliss' receivers.
Because on Saturday, Yelk saw what the rest of the Midwest recruiting world saw:
Andregg, a relatively unknown 2020 prospect, scored a 125.19 football rating at Nike's The Opening regional in Canton, Ohio. That was the top score of all prospects at the camp, which included several elite Power Five guys. For comparison, former Iowa City West star Oliver Martin scored a 133.02 as a junior, helping to spur his late-blooming, white-hot recruitment.
Nike's football rating is based on a variety of combine measurements. For Andregg, those included a 4.65-second 40-yard dash, 40.1-inch vertical leap, 3.97-second agility drill, 7,950-watt peak power score and 39-foot power ball throw.
Bliss said Andregg has also logged a 10-foot, 2-inch standing long jump, which is comparable to numbers recorded at the NFL combine.
"To be honest with you, I thought (his rating) was something to expect because I know what he does in the weight room," Bliss told the Register on Monday. "If you see the kid in person, you can tell he lifts weights. He’s only 15; he looks like he’s 20."
Prairie uses a single-wing, rush-heavy offense. So Andregg, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, recorded only 15 receptions for 118 yards after getting bumped up to varsity in Week 4 this season.
Still, local football programs have had an eye on him for a couple of years thanks to his athleticism.
Just last week, coaches from Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Western Illinois, North Dakota and North Dakota State stopped at Prairie during their Midwest tours to visit with Andregg.
"(NDSU tight ends/fullbacks coach Tyler) Roehl told him he's the best-looking sophomore he’s seen on his trips through a lot of the schools," Bliss said.
With his breakout performance at The Opening regional, Andregg has legitimately put himself on the Midwest recruiting map. People will wonder if he can join Southeast Polk running back Gavin Williams as another high-end, in-state skill position prospect. Whether that happens remains to be seen.
Now more so than ever before, though, he will be watched.
"(Yelk) said there’s no question the kid’s going to have offers on the table," Bliss said, "just because of the numbers from that camp."
Recruiting works fast in the social media age.
Soon after Andregg's rating surfaced on Twitter, Yelk texted Bliss to set up the Monday visit. South Dakota also scheduled a Monday visit. Coaches from Michigan, Nebraska and Toledo followed Andregg on Twitter. And now, NIU wants him to come to its summer camp, where an offer could very well come.
Due to the letters "WR" next to him on the roster, Andregg could draw a good amount of attention in his home state.
Cyclone fans have come to expect their program to attract talented receivers in the Midwest. And Hawkeye fans have been anxiously waiting for their program to land a top-tier receiver in recent years. Iowa came painfully close two years ago with Martin, and there are certainly shades of Martin in Andregg.
They have similar size — Andregg is 6-2, 185; Martin is 6-1, 185.
They are both workout hounds — Martin's weight-training prowess was well-known; Andregg lifts every morning at 6 a.m. and works out with his own performance trainers twice a week.
They are both multi-sport athletes — Andregg is only doing football this year, but he'll return to basketball and track next year; Martin swam and played football and baseball.
They are both from eastern Iowa — practically in the Hawkeyes' backyard.
Bliss, who coached against Martin three of his four years at West, sees the biggest similarity in both players' work ethic.
"I know how hard Oliver Martin worked when he was at Iowa City West," he said. "In terms of size and just athleticism and just their demeanor — how they compete on the field — there’s some similarities. There’s no question."
Now here's a big, bold, neon disclaimer: This story is not meant to say Andregg is Martin, who in 2017, picked Michigan over Iowa, Ohio State, UCLA, Notre Dame, Auburn, Florida and a whole bunch more Power Five schools. It's still far too early in Andregg's recruitment. And being a stellar athlete doesn't necessarily mean you're a stellar receiver.
The Nike rating doesn't measure your hands. It doesn't measure your route running. It doesn't measure how fast you run in pads. It doesn't measure your ability to separate. It doesn't measure your jousting at the line of scrimmage.
But ... Andregg's Nike rating is a heck of a way to introduce himself to interested college coaches.
And there are plenty of those.
Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and NIU all want him to participate in their summer camps. There, Andregg will have his opportunity to showcase receiver-specific skills. Depending on how his body grows, Andregg could also develop into a linebacker prospect.
Iowa State has had its eye on Andregg for a while. The Cyclones invited him to their prospect camp last summer and have kept in contact since. Linebackers coach Tyson Veidt has spearheaded the early recruitment.
Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan, who specializes in in-state recruitment, has been the point man for the Hawkeyes.
"Coach Morgan just said that he’s been hearing a lot about me and just came for a first-time visit — to say he’ll be on the lookout," Andregg said of his visit with Morgan last week.
Prairie is expected to contend for next year's Class 4A title, and Bliss wants Andregg and Keegan Simmons, one of the state's best running backs, to operate the offense from the backfield.
Of course, Andregg will play some wide receiver, too — maybe outside linebacker on the defensive end. Even some quarterback. He'll assume a big role in a lot of big games, as Prairie plays arguably the toughest schedule in the state next season.
And coaches around the Midwest will be watching.
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_.