Schober's Newest Destination: Ames

The establishment of a professional football league overseas, NFL Europe, has given players like Kurt Warner their big break. But the exposure football has gained in Europe is turning youngsters onto the sport as well and giving them opportunities, such as the case with German foreign exchange student Bastian Schober, a senior at Granbury (Texas) and newest member of Iowa State's recruiting class of 2003.

Schober, who's only been playing the sport of American football for four years, grew to love the game and one day dreamed of getting the chance to play high school ball in the United States.

"He's only played football for about four years and they don't really have high school football in Europe, they have club football," said Jackie Jackson, who, along with his wife Jolee act as Schober's host parents. "That's where he got his start. With the NFL Europe being so strong, they have started these kids playing flag football first and developed them that way. They don't really have a Pop Warner contact football league, so it's mostly flag football. The NFL has had a lot to do with starting youth programs in Europe."

Just being able to compete in a state widely known for its high school was quite an accomplishment for Schober, but he'll be taking it to another level next fall with the Cyclones. After coming across the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder last March, ISU began recruiting him heavily and offered him a scholarship Sunday night as Schober was wrapping up an official visit to Ames.

"There are a lot of great things about Iowa State," Jackson said. "Bastian likes the city not being a huge town and thought the fan base was excellent. What really impressed him was he saw a program that was building and wanted to be a part of it. With all of the coaches we've met, we were by far most impressed with the Iowa State coaches. We think it's a perfect match for him."

But Schober, who was also being recruited by Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Christian and Notre Dame, still felt he needed to take one day to think it over. He spent all of Monday talking to his host family and parents in Germany before making a final decision, which he did during a phone conversation with Dan McCarney Monday night.

"The whole thing with the school and coaching staff was just amazing," said Schober, who is in his first season of varsity action after competing at Texas State rules forced him to play at the JV level last fall. "I talked to a lot of players, especially the offensive linemen and heard good things from them. It was like I was already a part of a huge family. I felt very good about it. The environment at the game was great. It was a great turnout.

"It is a dream come true and especially playing Big 12 football. It's just awesome. If you would have asked me a half a year ago about playing Division I, Big 12 football I would have said you were crazy. I'm so happy about it and am still thinking a lot about it. I don't think I really realize all of it yet. This is a really good opportunity for me."

But it's not too crazy to envision Schober playing in the Big 12, especially since he was getting scholarship offers from other programs last summer before even playing a single varsity game. The big-time attention Schober has received from schools like Iowa State in such a short time amazes Jackson, who originally met Schober a couple of years ago after an all-star game.

"I know a lot of people here in the state of Texas think he's one of the top linemen in the state," Jackson said. "It's been amazing to us how word has traveled about this young man. (ISU offensive coordinator) Steve Brickey came in last spring to see him. They visited in March and came down to watch him in spring drills. Coach Brickey became very interested in him. We stayed in contact when it was legal.

"Then the season got started and as the season has developed, his name was pretty widespread down here. About two weeks ago, Coach Brickey was in contact with us and told us that Coach Alford was coming down to see him on the off week that Iowa State had. So then Coach Alford came down to visit with him real briefly and looked a little bit at practice. We received a call from Coach Brickey to see some more tape on him. As soon as they saw the tape, they asked for an official visit. He had pretty well narrowed it down to Nebraska and Iowa State, and decided that he didn't want to go to TCU or OU."

Schober is looking forward to joining a class of Cyclone offensive linemen that includes Iowans Aaron Brant, Brandon Cook, John Tjaden and Tom Schmeling, and believes he will fit in well.

"Coach (Marty) Fine told me that they're recruiting some talented some players right now, with all of the other offensive linemen," Schober said. "He feels pretty good about me and likes my quick feet, quickness and thinks I can play either guard or center. I think I can add a lot to the program and will give it my all."

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