MARION - On the heels of a breakout season, two words greeted the Marion football team as it began preparation for 2017.
In the first season for Coach Tim Lovell, Marion dug out from a winless 2015 and won five of nine ... »
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This is the second of a four-part series consisting of interviews with University of Iowa football assistant coaches. I asked them if, in their travels into schools and neighborhoods while recruiting, they noticed changes in kids and communities. We proceeded from there.
Previously: Bobby Kennedy. Still to come: Brian Ferentz, Phil Parker.
LeVar Woods, 38, is Iowa’s tight ends and special teams coach. He was a two-year starter at linebacker for Iowa in 1999 and 2000, Kirk Ferentz’s first two teams as head coach. He then played in the NFL for seven seasons. He was an administrative assistant at Iowa from 2008 to 2011, and now is in his fourth year with the program as an assistant coach.
Woods on recruiting:
“The areas I’ve recruited this past spring, I’ve recruited in St. Louis and the state of Missouri, Kansas City and Kansas. Also Atlanta, and in the state of Texas in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I think what stands out is how great the high school coaches are, particularly in Texas. The way they have things organized and the people I’ve gotten a chance to meet. Talking to high school coaches, they’re phenomenal, guys I’ll consider friends for a long, long time.
“I went to a school (West Lyon in Inwood, Iowa) that was K-to-12. I have yet to go to a school that’s K-to-12 outside of the state of Iowa. When I go to schools now, there are two to three thousand kids from 9-to-12.
“Kids are definitely still kids. ... To me, schools are different. I go to schools that have metal detectors. I go to schools where kids don’t want for much, if anything. So you kind of hit the gamut all over the place. Some neighborhoods that you would not want to go to at night, some neighborhoods where that’s the dream, that someday you would like to be able to live.
“The bottom line is I think kids are kids. I think kids are looking for leadership, kids are looking to be coached, kids are looking to be great players. I think that’s what we do well at Iowa, we develop people, not just players. I’ve gone through this program as a player, I can attest to that.
“Some of the high school coaches I’ve gotten a chance to meet are phenomenal coaches, phenomenal men and phenomenal coaches. Their task every day is to try to help shape the future of the American male.”
“It’s different dealing with kids in recruiting than it is with kids on the field. Kids on the field are kids. Kids off the field in recruiting can be influenced by a lot of things. How do I put this? A lot of shiny things, if that makes sense. They get distracted by shiny things just like many adolescents do. That part can be frustrating.
“But by and large, once you get down to the nuts and bolts of who the person is, who their champion is, whether it’s their parents or their coach or someone else in their life, that’s when you realize if they’re a right fit for us.”
I asked what Woods what he meant by shiny things.
“Facilities. ... Uniforms, 10 different uniforms for every season, things like that. ... But to be honest, the kids that fall for that, the kids that can’t see past that, they typically don’t do well at Iowa if we ever get kids like that. We’re looking for a specific type of person, a specific type of player. Once we find those and we get them around campus we feel good about them.”