116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Adam Bock remembers Iowa’s 31-point throttling of then-No. 3 Ohio State in 2017.
Bock remembers Keith Duncan’s game-winning field goal against then-No. 3 Michigan in 2016.
He was in the Kinnick Stadium stands for both of those games and has many other memories from Evashevski Drive.
“Me and my dad had season tickets,” Bock said. “So we used to go to all the games growing up.”
But Saturday’s trip to Kinnick will be different for the Solon native.
He won’t be wearing black and gold. He won’t be with his father. Instead of cheering on the Hawkeyes, he’ll be trying to tackle them.
“I’m really excited,” Bock said. “This game has been on the calendar for a while for me now, and I’m just excited for it to finally be here.”
He found out about the game when he was a senior in high school, at the time thinking “that’s a long ways out.” Now, it’s here.
Bock won’t be the only one experiencing a Johnson County homecoming Saturday. Fellow Solon graduate A.J. Coons is on the team, along with redshirt freshman wide receiver Grahm Goering from Iowa City West.
They’re among the 12 South Dakota State players who grew up in the Hawkeye State.
“I grew up watching the Hawkeyes, so it’s exciting to be able to play at Kinnick,” Coons said.
Coons’ connection to Iowa goes beyond just being a fan. His brother had a “short stint” on the Hawkeyes as a tight end in 2017.
“My brother still has the helmet and all that stuff from that game,” Coons said.
Coons is expecting a “decent amount of family members” to be in attendance. His parents have fielded calls from “a lot” of relatives wanting to stay at their house while they’re in town.
“I’ll have a lot of friends in the stands,” Coons said. “I’ll have a few on the opposing team as well.”
Jack Johnson played basketball with Coons as they were growing up. Coons’ brother knew Nico Ragaini from their time as teammates. Coons met some Iowa players, too, through Tyler Linderbaum, including Spencer Petras.
Bock is expecting close to 100 family members, he told The Gazette, and that’s not including “friends from Solon and whatnot.”
“A lot of my family is from around the area and big Hawkeye fans, so we’ve got a big section,” Bock said.
It’ll be different for those family members wearing South Dakota State blue at Kinnick Stadium. Bock at least thinks they’ll be wearing blue.
“I think just for one game, they should be able to do that,” Bock said.
When the Solon prospects went through the recruiting process, the FBS opportunities were lacking.
Coons had some contact with Iowa, but it didn’t go very far.
“I didn’t really ever hear much from them,” Coons said. “I did hear a little bit from (former) coach (Reese) Morgan before he retired, but there was very minimal recruiting.”
Bock “always felt like I could play at that level,” but the love for Iowa was not mutual on the recruiting trail.
“I was not heavily recruited by Iowa,” Bock said. “Obviously took some visits and stuff, but nothing really ever came out of that.”
Former Solon football coach Kevin Miller believes Bock has the talent to play at the FBS level, but he “flew under the radar” in recruiting, partly because of playing four sports and not going to as many football camps as other prospects.
Bock had a team-best 125 tackles in fall 2021 as a sophomore in Brookings, S.D.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz now sees what he didn’t necessarily see a couple years earlier when Bock was 15 miles up the road.
“He's a really good player, and I'm sure he's going to want to come in and show us that we made a mistake, and I probably wouldn't argue with him,” Ferentz said. “But that’s the nature of recruiting. You can’t be right every time.”
Bock is well aware the “storyline” going into Saturday’s game might be about him “playing with that chip on your shoulder,” but he doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t really need to prove anything,” Bock said.
Instead, he simply wants to “go there and get a team win,” and he’ll be working toward that at a familiar place.
“It’s not like I’m walking in anywhere new,” Bock said. “But it’ll definitely be weird coming out on the other side of the tunnel.”
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