When Urbandale (Iowa) High’s Emerging Leaders program met earlier this week, Jake Heinrich was in the middle of everything.
Other than his size, you wouldn’t have had any idea that he was a four-star offensive lineman committed to Arkansas.
Amongst a group of “emerging leaders,” Heinrich emerged as the spokesperson, setting forth a list of ways they should act in the community and do things with character.
“That’s a great example of the type of person he is,” said Sam Anderson, Heinrich’s coach at Urbandale. “He’s a renaissance man, a guy that does everything.”
On top of that group, Heinrich is a member of the National Honor Society and has participated in several volunteer opportunities.
When he steps on the field, though, you know he’s a football player. Entering his fourth year as a starter, Heinrich chose the Razorbacks over offers from California, Louisville and Oregon, among others.
“He brings a tenacious attitude to the game,” Anderson said. “He’s ferocious. His main goal every time he goes out there is to maul his opponent.”
Anderson first met his future star lineman when Heinrich was in just the fifth grade.
Heichrich went through Urbandale’s youth football program and played on its travel team in sixth, seventh and eighth grade before finally getting a shot at the varsity team as a freshman, when he was 6-foot-2.5 and about 195 pounds.
“We watched him develop,” Anderson said. “He really had a passion for football. You saw that. We knew he had an opportunity to fill in a void for us offensively.”
He continued to improve and as a sophomore, he stood out on a team that included four-star wide receiver Allen Lazard, who signed with Iowa State after the season.
“At that point, I knew (Heinrich) was going to be pretty darn good,” Anderson said. “I just didn’t know he was going to continue to have that drive. To be an SEC player, you have to have that drive to be the best.”
This season, Heinrich will team up with Caleb Bright, a three-star offensive lineman who is committed to Bowling Green.
Having a pair of offensive linemen committed to play at the FBS level has made Anderson’s job easier, as they can teach their teammates proper technique.
“They’ve made the rounds,” Anderson said. “They’ve been throughout the country at different camps, so they’re continually being those leaders, almost like a player-coach.”
Playing on a team that runs the flexbone offense, Heinrich has always been a great run blocker, but Anderson said he’s made strides in pass blocking.
“He’s a student of the game and that’s the beauty of Jake,” Anderson said. “He’s not just a young mand with great God-given talent. He’s worked on the technique aspect of it, which I’m sure (Arkansas offensive line coach Sam) Pittman would say is the most important thing.”
Urbandale opened its season last week with a 68-7 win over Des Moines Hoover. The J-Hawks led 53-0 at halftime, so Heinrich and most of the starters didn’t play in the second half.
“He graded out very high in our first game,” Anderson said. “I knew what I was going to get. He has a grinder mentality. He’s going to go hard and if he makes a mistake, he’s going to correct it.”
When Heinrich gets to Arkansas, he’ll be playing for a coach with similar roots as his high school coach.
Anderson grew up in Iowa before playing at DIII Wisconsin-La Crosse and coaching high school football in Illinois and not Iowa.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema grew up in Illinois, played and got his coaching start at Iowa and got his first head coaching job at Wisconsin.
With roots in the Midwest, the pair crossed paths a few times at various coaching clinics.
“You knew he was going to be a star, just by the way he carried himself and his drive,” Anderson said. “Coach Bielema is very well respected not only here, but throughout the Midwest.
“The best thing is that he’s a normal guy. He’ll do everything to help you in any way he can.”