AMES — Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar grew up in Norman, Okla.
He played high school basketball with former Oklahoma star and current Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young. He followed Norman native George Kittle’s career closely at Iowa and he was a big Sooners fan. Heck, both of his parents work at the University of Oklahoma.
His mom, Maria, is a professor and his dad, Randall, is the director of hydrodynamic modeling — which Kolar says is a fancy way of saying his dad studies how a fluid moves in a system and it’s not actually as impressive as it sounds.
It should be noted that Kolar has a 3.9 GPA in Iowa State’s mechanical engineering department.
“When I talk to Charlie I feel like I’m over my head,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said when asked if he ever felt in over his head during the recruiting process when talking with the Kolars. “Charlie’s parents are amazing people. I really enjoyed going through the recruiting process with Charlie’s parents. One of the things you see in their sons is the success they have not just on the field, but off the field. They did a great job parenting their children.”
During his high school years, Kolar waited for an Oklahoma offer.
“They liked me, they didn’t offer me,” he said.
But Iowa State wanted him, and he loved the staff.
“I’m not unique in that way at all. Every kid wants to play for their hometown school,” Kolar said. “(Ames native) Colin Newell really wanted to play for Iowa State and this is really special for him.
“But at the end of the day, it’s about what’s best for you and I think I ended up in a really good position with great coaches and a great staff and I’m really happy to be here.”
Kolar, a sophomore, has turned into the best tight end in the Big 12 and one of the best in the nation. Saturday against Oklahoma, in Norman, he’ll get to show the Sooners what they missed out on.
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“It’s the biggest game of the year because it’s the next game,” Kolar said. “Obviously there’s a little more outside noise and stuff, but I play to the best of my abilities every week.”
He has 34 receptions for 486 yards and five touchdowns. His 4.25 receptions per game is the most in the Big 12 and the fifth most nationally. His 60.75 receiving yards per game is the most in the Big 12 and fifth nationally and his five touchdowns are the most in the Big 12 and eighth nationally.
What’s helped boost Kolar’s production from his freshman year, when he showed flashes, to now is not only his own personal growth but Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning’s glorified sabbatical.
Manning left the Iowa State staff last year to coach tight ends for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. Now, he has a whole different understanding of how to get the tight ends involved, which is evidenced by Kolar and the other tight ends’ production this season.
“Charlie is a really good athlete,” Campbell said. “And at the tight end position, and I think you see this in the NFL and it’s trickled down now to the collegiate level, if you have a guy that can be a matchup challenge for a defense, that guy can be really successful. Charlie has had the ability to do that.
“You see him continue to get better and the neat thing for Charlie is there is still a lot of room for him to grow and there is still a lot of room to continue to get better. I think he’s up for that challenge and we’ll need him to be up to that challenge for us to be the best we can be.”
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