Newman’s Andrew Wilson has committed to Iowa.
The senior, a two-way player the past 2 years for the Newman varsity team, will head to the Hawkeyes as a preferred walk-on.
“It’s always felt like home,” he said. “I’ve got two sisters going there right now [Maddie and Cassidy] and it’s been a family school. They were the first bigger school to show interest in me. The way they treat their players, it’s just a great fit.”
In the Hawkeyes, Wilson liked what he saw from the way the coaching staff treats the players and the chemistry in the locker room.
“I’ve been around it a lot, pretty much my whole life, so I know more about it than other places,” he said.
Wilson’s first visit to Kinnick Stadium was a few years ago when the Hawkeyes played Wisconsin.
“It’s just a solid fanbase and everyone is welcoming,” he said. “It’s good people around you at all times.”
He first heard from the Hawkeyes in January of 2019, and he went to Iowa City for a visit in March. After that, he attended a few camps at Iowa and talked to the coaches on the phone, but things slowed at the end of the summer. Once the football season started back up in August, so did the recruiting process. In October, Iowa offered him a spot as a preferred walk-on and brought him in for another campus visit.
“After I got it, I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” he said. “I’ve known that’s where I’ve wanted to go since I was young. It was just a matter of time before I committed. I didn’t want to do it during the football season, just to keep everyone’s focus on football.”
It was during that trip in October that he got a chance to meet Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz.
“It was pretty cool,” Wilson said. “We just ran into him in the hallway and talked to him for 20 minutes. It was really cool to talk to him since I’ve looked up to him and seen him as an idol for a while. I never would have thought that guys like that would be my coaches now.”
Wilson was also sought after by Purdue and Indiana, and got an offer from Eastern Illinois. New Mexico and some Division II schools also were in touch during the recruiting process. But from the start, he knew it would be Iowa.
Wilson would be the first Newman football player in a quarter century to suit up for an NCAA Division I FBS squad. The Comets’ first state championship team in 1990 had three Division I players in Jeff Riney (Notre Dame), Jon Krick (Purdue) and Brian Burrs (Western Illinois).
Wilson is part of a slew of area athletes who have suited up for a Big Ten school in recent years or will in the next few years. Dixon’s Isaiah Roby completed his basketball career at Nebraska in March. Morrison’s Lauren Rice is on Ohio State’s softball team. Sterling’s Jake Gebhardt recently finished his sophomore season as part of Indiana’s cross country team. In addition, Erie-Prophetstown’s Clayton Johnson is set to play baseball at Illinois, Morrison’s Keegan Anderson is headed to Illinois to run track, and Sterling’s Lexi Rodriguez is a Nebraska commit in volleyball.
Though he has made his verbal commitment, announcing the decision on Twitter, he has not yet signed his National Letter of Intent. The signing period for football opens February 5.
“His size and his athletic ability were a big selling point for Iowa,” Newman coach Brandon Kreczmer said. “His senior year, he grew up a lot, mentally and physically. He never left the field for us. He stepped into that leadership role and was a big reason for our success.”
Kreczmer said that, for Wilson, the hard work is just beginning by committing to Iowa. Now he has to hone his skills to get ready for the move from playing in the Three Rivers to playing in the Big Ten.
Wilson is ready to do just that.
“What I want to work on is my route-running and speed and just getting out of my breaks faster,” he said. “I’m ready to work hard and get that on me once I get there. I know it’s going to be a long journey to get to playing time, but I’m ready for it.”
Once he signs, Iowa will send Wilson its offseason workout program, but he has already ramped up his work in Newman’s weight room.
“I have to work hard on my own in the weight room and do their programs,” Wilson said. “And then once I get up there in June, they’re really going to put me to work until the season starts. Once that starts, it’s just a grind for the next couple of years.”
In college, Wilson will be playing a very different style of football. Leaving behind Newman’s tight wishbone sets, he moves into an Iowa pro-style offense. There is a learning curve once he gets to college, learning a new set of formations and concepts.
“We run the ball usually, so we don’t go with pass sets. We go spread every 10 or 11 plays,” he said. “But, it’s going to be different going every play, pretty much.”
Even in Newman’s run-based offense, Wilson reeled in 22 catches for 395 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.
In the Comets’ 35-14 win over Nashville in the Class 2A state championship game at Huskie Stadium on November 29, Wilson had one catch for 13 yards on offense, while being part of five tackles on the other side of the ball, breaking up one pass and intercepting two others.
But in Iowa City, at least for now, Wilson expects to be on the offensive side of things.
“They’re bringing me in for tight end, but they said defensive end is a little bit of a possibility,” he said.