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Clear Creek Amana 2021 defensive end T.J. Bollers discusses the latest in his recruitment, which has reached new heights. Matthew Bain, mbain@dmreg.com

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NORTH LIBERTY, Ia. — From a dad's perspective, Trevor Bollers says, he just wants his son to have options. He wants him to work hard enough that, one day, he'll have his choice of a school, his choice of a career, his choice of a life.

So far, so good.

Because his son, T.J. Bollers, a 2021 defensive end out of Clear Creek Amana in Tiffin, just picked up his sixth offer last week from Michigan State, which joined Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Virginia Tech. 

Bollers has become a priority target in the Midwest over the past two years.

But now, as the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder enters spring camp season, one region may not be able to contain him much longer. LSU, Kentucky, Louisville, Wisconsin, USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State are also on the radar.

It might not be long before this kid from Tiffin goes national.

“(Ever since) fourth grade, when I found out about The Opening and did research on guys that went through The Opening, I’ve wanted to be a national-level recruit — I’ve wanted to be up in the rankings on the national level," Bollers said. "I’ve started to expand out to the West Coast and I’ve expanded to the East Coast. It just lies on me now and how I keep up with this recruiting process and just how I keep working."

When we say national recruit, we're talking about a select group of highly-ranked prospects with offers or significant interest from all over the country. Former Iowa City West receiver Oliver Martin and Lewis Central quarterback Max Duggan, for instance, were national recruits.

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Online recruiting services haven't released full 2021 rankings yet, but with his physical gifts and offer list, Bollers could be in four-star territory.

Last Saturday, Bollers was doing one-on-one drills with some of the state's top offensive linemen at his strength coach's facility, The Strength U. Guys such as three-star Brady Petersen (eight offers), Joe Lilienthal (South Dakota offer) and Caleb Siech (Miami-Ohio recruit) were there, and Bollers consistently won his battles.

He amassed 45.5 tackles, 13 solo tackles for loss and four solo sacks as a sophomore.

Now, Trevor Bollers said, his son's next step is to evolve out of the "thinking stage."

"Physically, he can do the things, but he has to think about them before they get executed," said Trevor, a former Hawkeye running back. "Where we’re trying to get to is the automatic stage, which is just like breathing. That’s where you really get that high-level, high-speed capability — when it’s just like walking, talking, breathing.

"His frame allows him to do anything — either be quicker, be bigger, be stronger, be faster. So he has this full gamut of capability. So you get to that non-thinking stage, that automatic stage? Sky’s the limit."

Beyond visits to Iowa State and Nebraska this month, Bollers will participate in Nike's The Opening Regionals next weekend in St. Louis. He is also still figuring out which Rivals camp he will attend.

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Virginia Tech and Michigan State were Bollers' two most recent visits. He said those schools, and Nebraska, have discussed him potentially playing outside linebacker, although most schools still see Bollers as a defensive end.

"It depends on where it is and what type of defense the school plays," he said, "and how they can see me fitting. If I don't get any bigger, then ultimately I could end up as a linebacker. If I get bigger, I could end up as a defensive end. You never know. Really, it depends on my body size, how I grow, how my body matures and stuff like that."

Bollers said he may want to visit Virginia Tech again for a game next fall. Other visits to familiar and new schools will no doubt be lined up in the future, too.

Trevor Bollers said the visits have been "eye-opening" because, as a Hawkeye fan, he wasn't as familiar with other programs who may be considered Iowa's rivals.

"But then you get a chance to go and see the inner workings of their program, and you see the different things that happen across the country," he said. "Everywhere has been unique. That’s been the beauty of this. And then you get to come back and talk about all the unique bits of each program and the people in the program and just get those takeaways."

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

 

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