Following two official visits to prospective schools in early December, Watkinsville (Ga.) quarterback Zeb Noland needed some time to think.
The former Appalachian State commit visited Iowa State from Dec. 8-10 and then headed to Appalachian State that weekend from Dec. 11-13. When all was said and done he wanted some time — as he finished up final exams ahead of his early graduation — to process his decision as a mid-year signee.
During the weekend, that decision came.
“Dad, I know exactly what I want to do,” Zeb told his father Travis. “I want to go to Iowa State and play for Coach [Matt] Campbell.”
Noland’s decision came after much thought after he originally committed to Appalachian State in early June. Alabama called late last week and showed interest, which gave Noland confidence in his Iowa State decision.
“It just weighed heavy on my heart,” Noland said of his ultimate decision. “Alabama was kind of floating around with things and talking a little bit and that made me confident that I was good enough to play at a Power 5, so why not take the opportunity and play at a Power 5 and try to build a legacy at Iowa State that’s not been there in awhile?”
Noland signed a financial aid agreement with Iowa State on Monday and will arrive on campus in January. Ranked by Scout.com as the No. 48 quarterback in 2016, Noland is the highest-rated quarterback for Iowa State in recent memory.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback passed for 1,627 yards (79-of-169) and 17 touchdowns during his senior season at Oconee County playing for his father, who played quarterback at Appalachian State. When Noland committed to Appalachian State, he at the time passed on an offer from Campbell and Toledo.
“We really, really liked the staff when they were at Toledo but the deciding factor in him not going to Toledo was the fact that we truly felt Coach Campbell wouldn’t be there very long, which has proven true,” Travis Noland said. “Coach Campbell, I’ve been in this business for 21 years and I’ve seen a lot of coaches and been around a lot of coaches and to me he’s one of the brightest minds, but more importantly [is as] genuine a person I’ve met in a long time in the college coaching ranks."
Iowa State offered Noland shortly after Campbell and Co. arrived in Ames and received a visit not long after. The Cyclones, who had just two scholarship quarterbacks on roster in redshirt junior Joel Lanning and redshirt freshman Dominic DeLira, now add depth.
“The first thing they’re getting is a winner,” Travis said. “He has the desire to improve and he understands the game of football. He’s been around it his whole life and he understands protecting the ball and that turnovers get you beat. I think he’s ahead of the curve on some of those things as far as understanding what it takes to win football games.
“He’s a pocket-passer and he’s got an unbelievable arm. He’s very accurate in throwing the deep ball but I’m sure he’s got a lot of areas to improve on in his game as any freshman would. I think he’ll continue to develop physically and of course it’s just a process for any college quarterback as far as the mental development goes.”
Noland had lunch with Lanning during his visit to Ames and is excited to work alongside him this coming spring. Noland, who is regarded as one of the top 2016 quarterbacks in the south, will help provide that depth even if he redshirts
“They’ve got Joel, who finished out the season very strong. There’s not much on the roster, so they needed to bring someone in that they trusted who can play,” Noland said. “I guess they felt that I was still their guy from Toledo. I believe in Coach Campbell and know he’s an honest man and he can be successful. So it makes me want to be successful with him.”
Noland's early arrival in Ames will give him a chance to get acclimated early as well as develop quickly this spring. Whatever plans Iowa State has for Noland in the months ahead, his development will be jumpstarted with 15 spring practices.
After a week of deliberation, he’s now got a future home and Iowa State has the prep quarterback it's been searching for.
“The relationship is everything,” Noland said. “It was my final deciding factor. At the end of the day it’s all about people and I just felt the most comfortable with him and feel that I’m the perfect fit.”