The junior college football ranks have been dominated by teams from Texas, California, Kansas, Arizona and Mississippi as of late but Council Bluffs (Iowa) Iowa Western College comes into the 2012 season as a contender for a national title.
The Reivers regularly produce talent but the group on campus now has a chance to be special according to offensive coordinator Mike Strohmeier. Leading the way is former Rivals250 athlete and U.S. Army All-American Rodney Coe, who originally signed with Iowa out of high school.
"We moved Rodney to defensive line," Strohmeier said. "He's 6-foot-3, 280 pounds now. He played tailback at 255 and he's about 280 now. He's a lot more natural at d-line and is really good there. He will be a big-time recruit again, just like out of high school."
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Several other other Reiver prospects already hold offers as well.
"Our tailback Aaron Wimberly, he's out of South Gwinnett, Ga.," Strohmeier said. "He had a Troy offer in high school and a bunch of interest then as well. He has an offer from Iowa State and he's getting a lot of interest since he was an All-American last year.
"Devon Nash, he's a defensive end. He has a Kansas State offer and a bunch of interest.
"Our other running back Don Jackson, he's open now. He was placed by Washington State but the staff has since been fired. I think, if you asked him, he'd say he doesn't consider himself committed. He doesn't have any other offers yet but he's getting interest from all over. The school that is probably showing him the most interest right now is Iowa State. They're looking at both our tailbacks."
Iowa Western has a very good quarterback returning to lead the way as well and he will likely end up on an FBS roster next year as well.
"Our quarterback Jake Waters is getting some looks," Strohmeier said. "Kansas State and South Florida are interested. Quarterback is more of a school-by-school need position as compared to OL and DL but he's a DI guy for sure. Kansas State is probably recruiting him the hardest and will probably offer at some point."
In addition to the prospects that played for Iowa Western a year ago, the team has received several transfers over the offseason.
"The Deon Long kid we got from New Mexico, he is really good," Strohmeier said. "He's from out there and has the connections there. He was second-team all-conference as a freshman at New Mexico and he has a chance to be special."
Another former Lobo is now in Council Bluffs as well.
"We also got the Martize Barr kid from New Mexico," he said. "He's getting a bunch of looks too. He played safety and wide receiver there but he's playing wide receiver for us."
A pair of twins transferred in from West Virginia, including one who was listed as the Mountaineers' starting running back at one point. However, it may be another year before they are able to transfer to another four-year program.
"Vernard Roberts and Vance Roberts both went through spring with us," Strohmeier said. "We might have the luxury of redshirting Vernard since he has a redshirt year. It might be the best thing for him long-term. Vance redshirted at West Virginia so he will play for us this year. They're both likely going to end up being class of 2014 guys though."
Another ACC transfer to the school comes in the form of a dual-threat quarterback.
"Right now, Ricardo Young would be our backup," Strohmeier said. "It's a definite luxury to have there. He's super athletic but Waters is a better thrower right now. Ricardo ran a 4.5 and Jake ran a 4.6 so there's not much of a difference there. Jake is a returning starter that knows the offense inside and out."
When Grand Rapids (Mich.) College decided to ax its football program this offseason, Iowa Western was on the receiving end of several transfers from there as well.