Croot Loops: OLB Parker Hesse
Hesse is an Iowa outside linebacker starter kit
Here's part of the reason why Iowa recruited Parker Hesse: He finished the season with 59 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Offensively, Hesse quarterbacked Waukon to a runner-up finish in Class 2A for 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 1,273 yards with 23 rushing TDs.
Hesse is good at sports and can make things happen. OK, North Dakota, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa were Hesse's only other offers, all FCS schools. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Iowa sticks to its evaluations. When Iowa's staff finds and offers a player it believes will help them win a Big Ten championship, it sticks even when no other FBS school sees it.
"I read that [Seattle Seahawks QB] Russell Wilson was a two-star recruit," Ferentz said. "I know [Iowa linebacker coach] Jim Reid was trying to get him at Richmond and thought he had a chance. So, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think you have to trust what you see and what you believe."
Hesse won Iowa's heart with a performance during a summer camp in Iowa City. He claimed an offer during his senior year, when he was putting up all those numbers above.
"Camp amped it up a bit for us," Ferentz said.
What did Hesse do in Iowa's camp: "Being as big as I am and being able to run a live 40. There were also some live games, that are almost like ultimate football. There's a point where they talked about competitiveness when we were playing that. I had a couple of good drills. I signed up for two days in a row. I played well the first day and then I came back the next day, and so they got to see me two days in a row and were that much more familiar with me and recognized me. I think that helped a lot."
Projection is part of the deal, and with Hesse, part of the projection is how he'll take to football on a full-time basis. Hesse plays basketball, runs track and, depending on scheduling and his arrival in Iowa City this summer, might play baseball.
Basics: Waukon High School, 6-3, 205, outside linebacker
Dent the depth chart in ’14? — No, but what does outside linebacker look like after Travis Perry, a junior who'll inherit the position? Either way, it probably wouldn't come down to Hesse. Iowa OLBs usually run around in the 230-pound range. Could be a special teams contributor, but probably more value for him to build the body.
Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison — A.J. Edds
ESPN.com scouting snippet — Displays enough speed to carry tight ends though displays some tightness and could have some limitations in man coverage. A HS QB displays good ball skills to be able to make a play when he gets hands on the football. Needs to continue to develop, but good enough athlete to be effective in underneath coverage. Needs to develop as pass rusher. . . . Hesse is a versatile athlete for his HS team playing QB among other positions. With experience at LB and DE, he needs further development, but best fit looks to be on the defensive side of the ball for him. We don't see an immediate contributor as he puts more focus and gains more experience on defense, but possesses some tools and upside and can initially contribute well on special teams while he develops.
What Iowa said . . .
Head coach Kirk Ferentz on in-state recruits — “For 15 years, and I'm sure it's longer than that in our program, our recruiting of in-state players is so critical to us. We didn't get everybody we wanted from inside, but football in this state is outstanding. A lot of tremendous young people. I think they have great upside, and great futures here. Historically, they've done a great job. I think helping the other players from out-of-state transition into the program and maybe better appreciate some of the traditions here that are so strong.”
Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson on Hesse's upside: “He does everything for his team. He's another kid we had in camp and felt very strongly about. We almost offered him out of camp, but we just wanted to confirm it off of senior tape. It was easy to confirm off senior tape. His athleticism, his toughness, he never came off the football field. He's kind of in the mold of Chad Greenway. He played all over the field, quarterback, every thing. You don't want to throw those labels out, but he was that type of player. Once he gets in a weight room and he focuses on a single sport, he'll put on the weight and be an excellent player for us."
What Rivals.com . . .
Midwest recruiting coordinator Josh Helmholdt: “He's one of those in-state guys who knows Iowa's tradition, knows Iowa's program, knows Iowa's history. He's going to be proud to wear the Hawkeye on the helmet and know what that means because he's grown up in that mindset and culture. . . . He also has great length. He can play in space at that position. He's one of those guys who's a good program-builder."
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
Hesse has a great feel for the game. The video showed him breaking angles as a "direct snap and run" QB. I'm guessing speed was one of the last checkmarks Iowa wanted to see. Hesse has the quintessential Iowa outside linebacker body, at 6-3. His highlight reel shows range and might have you wondering if, just maybe, he wouldn't make a defensive end pending weight room gains. But again, Hesse's body and skills scream Iowa OLB.