So many people were telling Madison (Ga.) defensive tackle M.J. Webb everything they liked about Iowa State that the highly regarded prospect figured he’d take a visit to Ames and judge things for himself.
Consider Webb thoroughly impressed.
“I was really surprised when I went to Iowa State because, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting the facilities to be as amazing as they were,” Webb said Sunday following his one-day trip. “It really caught me by surprise. Like their weight room, I was surprised by their weight room and everything.”
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Webb, who is ranked as the No. 49 overall defensive tackle in the 2017 class, including the 15th-best in the south, has no shortage of options, holding a list that includes more than 20 Power 5 offers.
The Cyclones connected with Webb through multiple outlets including recent four-star offensive line commit and fellow Georgia native Caleb Chandler as well as the family of Iowa State backup quarterback Zeb Noland, whose father is a nearby high school coach.
“It was actually Coach [Travis] Noland. He’s from Oconee County and their backup quarterback, Zeb Noland, played against me and Coach Noland and my head coach, they’re great friends and everything,” Webb said of his connection to Iowa State. “So we were just talking back and forth and the [Iowa State] coaches got interested in me. Everything I heard, I was just hearing great things about Iowa State, so I just had to come up and take a trip for myself and see if it was true.
“And sure enough, they were right.”
Webb’s experience has put the Cyclones in exclusive company as one of seven named schools standing out in his busy recruitment. The list? “Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Iowa State.”
Aside from the facilities, Webb was also impressed with the staff.
“What stood out was probably the coaching staff, like the relationship that the coaching staff has and everything,” Webb said. “They came from Toledo [and] they’ve been together for like seven years and you don’t see a lot of teams with coaches like that.”
Iowa State graduates seven members of its defensive line following the 2016 season and thus needs a number of reinforcements in the 2017 class. To date, defensive end Angel Dominguez is the program’s lone D-line commit for 2017.
That has made Webb a No. 1 priority.
“He was just telling me about their depth chart. They’re about to graduate a bunch of seniors and everything on the defensive line and this year they’re looking for defensive linemen and I’m one of their top defensive lineman they want,” Webb said of the message from Campbell. “He was just like, I can come in and make a huge impact. They asked where I’d prefer to play and I was just like 3-technique or whatever, because I’m like a hybrid. I play defensive end or D-tackle. Whichever position the defensive line coach needs me to play, I’ll play.”
For now, Webb is sorting through a crazy recruitment.
The prized prospect, who may take trips to South Carolina and Tennessee this summer, will take official visits in the fall before making a decision in November following his senior season. Iowa State has now entered the mix to get one of those fall visits.
“I’ll probably take a visit during the fall, get up to a game, see how their fan base is and everything and then go from there,” Webb said. “[I want] a place where I can call home [and] I fit in on campus and with the players and everything. Can I see myself going to the school if I wasn’t playing football, if I was just a regular student? That’s about it. Being away from home really isn’t a factor, so I’m open to going anywhere really.”