Fast food out of the question for Iowa City West standout linebacker Dillon Doyle

Trojans face Bettendorf in Friday afternoon's Class 4A semifinals

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IOWA CITY — He’s not sure, but he thinks it was Chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s. Every kid loves Chicken McNuggets.

There may have been one of those little apple pies, too.

“Do they even make those anymore?” Dillon Doyle asked.

The Iowa City West senior honestly doesn’t know because he hasn’t eaten fast food for going on nine years. A New Year’s resolution way back in 2009 has turned into a way of life for him.

No burgers, no fries, no soda. None of that since he was a real young lad.

The occasional trip to Panchero’s happens, but that’s not really fast food because you can order healthy.

“It’s just because I can find better options, and I don’t eat a lot anyway,” Doyle explained. “I just ended up carrying (his resolution) over year to year. It wasn’t hard to do it the first year, so I just said ‘You know what, I’m not going to do that.’”

You shouldn’t be surprised by Doyle’s no-fast food decree. His father, Chris, is Iowa’s longtime strength and conditioning coach, known for an exceptional ability to develop players physically and emotionally.

The apple does not fall far from the tree in this case. It’s more than OK to eat apples, of course.

“James Morris was a big part of that, too,” Doyle said. “I remember when we were recruiting him, my dad said something to me like ‘You know this kid hasn’t eaten fast food in, like, however many years.’ I thought ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool. I wish someone could say that about me.’ So I guess I just decided I wasn’t going to do that anymore.”

Doyle hopes to become the next James Morris on the field. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder has committed to play for the Hawkeyes, where he’ll likely be a linebacker.

He’s got the size, the speed, the quickness and instincts to excel at the next level. Obviously, the intangibles are there, too.

“It starts with his body, really. As basic as that sounds, he is incredibly conditioned, and that’s a credit to his work ethic and focus,” said West Coach Garrett Hartwig, whose top-ranked team plays Bettendorf in a Class 4A playoff semifinal Friday afternoon at 4:05 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. “Then he’s intelligent: a straight-A student with a very high ACT score. He understands the big picture, he’s not near sighted.

“Then it’s just that he loves football. He is a football player, he’d play football every day. That’s the biggest compliment I can give a player, to call him a football player. His best position has developed into linebacker, but I think he’s a helluva tight end, too. He’s just a football player in the end.”

West lines Doyle up at various places on defense to try and free him up to make plays. He might go inside, might play outside, might rush the edge, might play a hybrid defensive back position.

He is that versatile.

“You have to,” Hartwig said. “He’s long, and he’s athletic and fast. I credit my defensive coordinator, Tyler Meade. He does a good job of getting guys into space that can eat space, so to speak. His length and his ability, and he’s got instincts, too, that take him to the ball. That kind of separates him a lot as well.”

Doyle is the youngest of three brothers. Declan is a student assistant at Iowa, Donovan a wrestler at Harvard.

He said there wasn’t much question about accepting Coach Kirk Ferentz’s scholarship offer. This is home.

“I’ve grown up around the people here,” he said. “I’ve been to other colleges visiting, not necessarily on a (true) college visit, but just growing up and going to other Big Ten stadiums, going out east, which is where our family is from, seeing schools there. The people of Iowa are just really something special. You can see that in anything that we do. Like dance marathon, the wave that we do now at the end of the first quarter. Kirk Ferentz has been at Iowa now 20 years, and that’s something you won’t find anywhere else.

“I think my dad and I are both excited about the opportunity to try and maximize my potential. It’s a great opportunity that I’ve been gifted, and I want to take advantage of it.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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