Iowa signed 22 football players for its 2017 class. As part of the ongoing Next Generation series, looking at the players about to join the Hawkeyes, Land of 10 Iowa reporters Scott Dochterman and Bobby La Gesse take a look back at the recruiting process for members of the class. Up today is 3-star Bettendorf (Iowa) High School tackle Mark Kallenberger.
Several high schools angled for Mark Kallenberger back in November 2015. He was a starter for perennial power Bettendorf and displayed the size, skill set and tenacity that any Division I program would crave. His recruiting process that led him to Iowa was strange but entertaining.
What was your recruitment like? Any interesting stories?
A: “The weirdest was Minnesota because I went on that visit. [Former Minnesota coach] Tracy Claeys said to me, ‘To be honest I’ve never seen you play, I’ve never seen any of your film.’ I’m like, OK. ‘But I’m going to sit and look at it.’ What’s their offensive line coach, his younger coach, it was his first year there [Bart Miller]. ‘He watched and everything coach over here told me you looked really good on film and everything, and I’m going to watch it this week and give you a call next week. And nothing happened.
“Then out of blue, this offensive line coach direct messaged me and, ‘Hey, if you have time, could you call me?’ So I called him and he didn’t talk anything about football. He just talked to me about how he worked at Dick’s [Sporting Goods] when he was in high school. It went on for about 15 minutes and it was really awkward. So I think that was weird.”
What about other schools?
A: “The Kansas coach, I never heard anything from Kansas. They direct messaged me this long paragraph. He’s like, ‘I really like what I’ve seen of you on film. I’d like to offer you a scholarship. Give me a call.’ Thirty minutes after that, I messaged him back and said, ‘This is awesome, I’m really excited. When are you available today?’ Nothing. During the basketball season, he direct messaged me after 2 months after I asked him if he was available to talk, and he said he’d really like for me to come to one of the basketball games. At that point I was like, ‘I can’t go.’ It was so weird. They offered me.”
“P.J. Fleck sent me some pictures of him and his wife at Disney Land or some Disney cruise.”
What? Was this while he was at Western Michigan?
A: “Western Michigan. I had contact with them. They offered me three weeks before I committed to Iowa. Somewhere around then, he went on his Disney cruise and it was almost like I was a part of his family.”
How did LSU get involved?
“They didn’t come out and say an offer would be coming. They just contacted me and gave me some interest and it came down to, I think, they were really going to offer me because they were asking and calling and a coach said, ‘Would you ever be interested?’ I just had to be straightforward with them. ‘No, it’s too far.’ I feel like it would be out of my comfort zone, being down at LSU. Different people and all.”
You said Nebraska was your second choice? When did you pick up that offer?
A: “Once Nebraska offered me, things started speeding up. It was right after our first playoff against Davenport North. We beat them, my whole Twitter was blown up by all of their coaches. I had 10 of them follow me on Twitter. Four of them direct messaged me. Then their offensive line coach gave me his number and said, ‘Hey Mark, I want you to call me.’ Then I called him and 10 seconds into the call, he offered me a scholarship. That happened and just right after that, things started to pick up a lot.”
What about Iowa?
A: “I had been talking to them. I got some letters. I don’t know. I can’t remember how many I got throughout the football season, but I got two visits and I went to their junior day. I remember before the junior day, Coach [Reese] Morgan was saying, ‘Wait until January. Right now we’re not going to contact you very much. Just wait until January, something good is going to happen.’ All right. Then there was about a month when I didn’t hear from them at all. I guess January doesn’t mean anything. That junior day visit, they offered me. So that’s how everything got started.”
What was the difference between Iowa and Nebraska?
A: “I really liked Nebraska. I really liked Coach [Mike] Cavanaugh, their offensive line coach. He was really nice to me. The most contact I had was with Cavanaugh. I really liked what he had to say, but then again he was just trying to make sure I liked what he was saying. It wasn’t necessary all exactly what he was saying was true. He didn’t really tell me any of the hard parts of it all, whereas Iowa and Brian Ferentz was, ‘I’m going to be straight up with you. You get here, you’re not my friend. I’m not yours. I’m your coach. It’s going to be the toughest thing that you’ll ever have to do. Me coming from just getting done with sports at Bettendorf, our football coaches were the exact same way. I really liked and felt comfortable with Iowa. That’s another thing that separated Iowa from Nebraska.”
What happened after you committed to Iowa?
A: After I committed, I saw Nebraska’s offensive line coach three times at my school in about a month. He kept on asking me, ‘So are you 100 percent with Iowa?’ I’m like, ‘Yes. I remember messaging you that day telling you this.’ He came back to my school the next time. ‘So what was the main factor in you committing to Iowa?’ I was just like, ‘The strength program. The stability and the stuff I told you.’ He came back a third time. I just didn’t know what he wanted.
“I told all the coaches that asked me about my commitment that day, I’m just like, ‘I’m totally done with my recruiting.’ I’m shutting it down. But I kept on getting these direct messages.”
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