Several months after Jeff Nogaj's sophomore season came to an end at Johnstown-Monroe (OH) High School, Toledo coach Matt Campbell was in the school’s weight room watching the big offensive lineman lift.
When the session was over, Campbell told Nogaj about a camp close to his hometown that the Toledo staff would be at that summer and invited him to attend. Last June, before his junior season and with the camp now complete, Nogaj sat in a meeting with Campbell.
“I sat down and talked to him and he went over what he thought of me as a player and what he was going to do for the next two years,” Nogaj said. “[Toledo] officially offered me after I had the sit down meeting at camp.”
Saturday, Nogaj, who Iowa State offered after Campbell's arrival late last year, sat in a meeting with Campbell again and committed to Iowa State. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive lineman, whose quiet demeanor has helped him fly under the radar in the recruiting circles, saw all he needed during his trip to Ames.
“What stood out to me was how supportive everybody involved in the program is, how close-knit they were,” Nogaj said. “Everything they do flows smoothly, there’s structure and it’s a very warm and welcoming place to be at.”
Iowa State, after adding three high school offensive linemen in the 2016 class, is continuing to work to reshape the line with the upcoming 2017 class. Nogaj is the second part of those efforts, joining Ames lineman Colin Newell, who committed to the Cyclones last weekend.
The Cyclones are likely to add several more linemen in this 2017 class, but Nogaj gives them a versatile piece who could be moved around.
“They liked my instinctive movements as an offensive lineman and my hip drives and how I hit and how I go north and south,” Nogaj said of Iowa State. “They see that in their game because that’s something they’ve taught their linemen at Toledo how to do their blocking.”
One year removed from his meeting with Campbell, Nogaj now knows where he’ll play college football. The longstanding relationship with both Campbell and offensive line coach Tom Manning, in the end, made the decision an easy one for Nogaj.
“They just always were trying to talk to me. They were always up front with what they wanted and what they saw in me,” Nogaj said. “They were more awesome than any other coach was that was talking to me. I really enjoyed that and my parents really enjoyed that.
“It relieves a lot of the stress. I feel like I can concentrate more on football, school and having a more fun senior season.”