Future Hawkeyes among recent graduates relishing chance to play in Shrine Bowl
Game is Saturday at the UNI-Dome
CEDAR FALLS — The best players in the state, including Northern Iowa and University of Iowa commits, descended on UNI Saturday for the start of Shrine Bowl week.
Some will put on pads and helmets one more time before hanging up the cleats, while others will pursue college football careers at various levels.
Among those playing in the annual event, which benefits the Shriners Hospitals for Children and to date has raised $2,268,000, are Iowa freshmen Cole Banwart and Noah Clayberg.
Though they’ll line up on opposing teams in the game, they’ll be teammates soon enough.
Clayberg, a two-way player who led Pella to back-to-back state titles in Class 3A, will attend Iowa in the fall on a gray shirt.
He will not be able to officially join the team until the spring semester, although with a number of transfers, and the chance players aren’t academically eligible or quit the team, he may become a scholarship player earlier than expected.
Though he cannot work out with his future team, he said he still is confident in his decision to pass on FCS offers from South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota, among others.
“That’s what I signed up for in the first place, knowing well that there’s a chance I might be able to get on the fall’s team,” said Clayberg, who will quarterback the South All-State Squad along with Waukee’s Ben Ferkin. “I’m pretty much just staying patient and doing all the work that they need me to do, and I’m going to be prepared for either thing.
“Either way I’m going to be ready to go in January, and I’m excited to get the opportunity to play.”
Until January, or unless he receives a scholarship before the season starts, Clayberg will enroll and attend class as a normal student.
His Hawkeye teammate but Shrine Bowl opponent, Banwart, who will represent the northern half of the state, said he will likely redshirt.
The Algona graduate has been working out in Iowa City for the summer, but does not figure to crack the offensive line rotation that includes Sean Welsh, James Daniels, Ike Boettger, Cole Croston and Boone Meyers, among others.
Banwart played defensive line in high school, but will play offense at the Shrine Bowl. He said he’s been in Iowa City since June, getting a jump on classes and hitting the weight room.
“We’ve been down there since June 12 and going hard every morning,” Banwart said. “They have a bunch of guys coming back, so they don’t really need me right now.”
Though both are among the most talented players at the Shrine Bowl, they both know the game is played for more than another opportunity to put on pads early.
“It’s more like an honor really,” Banwart said. “There’s only a few guys out here who get to do this.”