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FAYETTE — At one time, Jordan Rommes was ready to choose a batting helmet, catching fly balls and tallying hits over a football helmet, receiving passes and dishing out the hits.
He did plenty of both during his high school career at South Winneshiek, but a disappointing end didn’t set well with the multisport standout. Rommes didn’t want that to be his final football experience.
“The reason I chose football was because I wasn’t real happy with how my football career ended in high school,” said Rommes, referring to South Winn’s 56-14 Class 1A state semifinal loss to 2014 state champion Iowa City Regina that concluded the Warriors’ season at 12-1. “It kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.”
The unsatisfied finish led Rommes to Upper Iowa where he has made an impact on the defensive side of the ball, helping the Peacocks to a 4-2 record before Saturday’s home game against NCAA Division II fourth-ranked Minnesota State at Harms-Eischeid Stadium, starting at 5:07 p.m.
Rommes was an all-state infielder for South Winn, hitting .577 with a state high 82 hits and 15 home runs. He was prepared to play baseball at the NJCAA level until football left him wanting more. Upper Iowa was at the front of the line to offer an opportunity.
“Upper Iowa took the chance to offer me, so they were the first one,” Rommes said. “Why not take a chance on them if they were willing to take a chance on me? I definitely don’t regret doing that.”
The 6-fooot, 225-pound junior also had another decision to make once he stepped into the Peacock program. He was an all-state receiver, catching 45 passes for 1,073 yards and 14 TDs, which includes four for 125 and a 76-yard score in the semifinal game against the Regals. He was a solid defender as well.
Coaches considered both, giving Rommes the option. He was willing to do anything to contribute.
“I just told them whatever gets me on the field fastest or wherever I can help the team the most,” Rommes said. “Just put me there. They put me at defensive back. I was fine with that.
“I’m happy with the decision. I do miss having the ball in my hand, being on the offensive side of the ball, but I’m willing to play whatever role coaches tell me to play.”
The move has paid dividends. Rommes was an honorable mention all-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference selection last season. This season, Rommes leads the team with three interceptions and 11 combined pass breakups and defended. He is second with 39 total tackles.
Rommes said he made progress by devoting more offseason time in the weight room and film room.
“I’m a lot more comfortable, stepping in and playing,” said Rommes, who has also contributed on special teams. “I understand the defense a lot more. It’s going to change from this year to next year as well.”
Upper Iowa has improved as a team as well. The Peacocks already have surpassed their 2016 win total. Upper Iowa’s only losses have come to ranked opponents.
Rommes said the team bonded during winter conditioning and spring practice. The players have grown closer as a unit, spending almost every day together in the small town. Camaraderie off the field has led to a tighter group on it.
“We’re doing some big things here,” Rommes said. “It started in the offseason. It’s going very well.”
Baseball remains a passion for Rommes. He’s a dedicated Twins fan, enjoying their postseason appearance this year. He also follows some friends who play for the University of Iowa.
Rommes is resigned to being a baseball spectator in place to taking the gridiron every weekend.
“Baseball and football are kind of hand-in-hand for me,” Rommes said. “It kind of depends on the season. I came to college to play football and I love the game of football. I love going out there on Saturdays and playing.
“I watch my fair share of baseball, but nothing beats college football on Saturdays.”
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