Although it's a half a country away from Iowa, residents of Erie, PA knows about the Hawkeyes and their favorite sports son - Bob Sanders. The alum and former NFL Defensive MVP put the Big Ten school on the map in his hometown.
That history ranks among the top reasons that another talent from the Keystone State is eyeing Iowa. Running Back Greg Garmon has high regards for the Hawkeyes.
"They're No. 2 on my list," said the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Class of 2012 member who visited Iowa City on Tuesday. "I don't really have a No. 1 right now because North Carolina was my No. 1but I don't know what's going to happen to the coaching staff there after what happened to Coach (Butch) Davis.
"I'm going down to North Carolina soon and sit down with all the coaches and talk about it."
The Tar Heels fired Davis at the end of last month amid NCAA investigations into his program. His assistant, Everett Withers, was named interim coach while the school searches for a permanent replacement.
Illinois, who Garmon visited on Monday, sits at No. 3 on his list, he said. Michigan, who he also has seen in person, is fourth. The McDowell Senior High product plans to announce his college choice on Jan. 2 at the Marine All-American Game in Phoenix.
"I'm going to shut things down now (in recruiting) because we start camp on Monday and I have to put my season first before all this stuff," Garmon said. "At some point I'm going to have to start eliminating schools that I think I wouldn't see myself at."
Garmon said he will use all five of his official visits allowed by NCAA rules. He's planning on going to night games so it fits into his schedule of playing on Friday evenings. He said he will take his official visit to Iowa on Oct. 15 when the Hawkeyes play host to Northwestern under the lights.
Garmon said he also will officially visit North Carolina, Illinois and Michigan. The last trip likely will go to Pittsburgh, he said.
Iowa used its first opportunity to have the Scout.com Four-Star recruit on campus this week to show how much Sanders means in Hawkeye Country. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz has said the former all-American safety changed the mentality of his program when he was rebuilding it more than a decade ago. The Hawkeyes became known as the Bullies of the Big Ten.
"It was better than I expected," Garmon said of his visit. "The thing that I love is how they still love Bob Sanders. They have pictures of him from when he was there all over the place and speak highly of him.
"Bob made it out of (Erie) and really is the only one to make it big. When people talk about football in Erie, they talk about Bob."
Garmon met Sanders for the first time earlier this summer.
"He talked to me about just staying humble, basically, and not letting this stuff get to my head," said Garmon, the No. 15-ranked RB nationally in his class. "He said I'm always going to remember by senior season. He told me not to forget where I came from."
Garmon was impressed with Iowa's coaching staff, campus and stadium, among other things. Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Doyle made a big impression on him.
"That's my man," Garmon said with a chuckle. "He's a real guy and he's straight up about everything. He doesn't sugar coat anything. I actually love that about their whole coaching staff."
Iowa opened training camp last week and Garmon witnessed a workout on Tuesday.
"They ran practice very fast," he said. "It was an up-tempo practice. It wasn't like a high school practice. I know that.
"I like how they run practice. They do a lot of different blocking schemes."
Garmon focused on how he would fit into the Hawkeye offense as he watched the workout.
"I could tell right away that I would fit in good," he said. "They also showed me some film of when Shonn Greene was there, how they just pounded the ball against Purdue. They just pounded at the end of the game, the whole series. They didn't pass it.
"They run the ball a lot. As a running back, that's what you like to see."
Garmon carries the ball differently than does Greene, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back in 2008 and now is with the New York Jets.
"Shonn is more of a power runner,' Garmon said. "I'm more of a slasher and more about speed."
Garmon said he spent a lot of time talking with Ferentz on Tuesday.
"We sat down and he showed me some of the bowl rings and I got to hold some," Garmon said. "It was a good experience to talk to him. He told me every coach is going to tell me the same thing during the recruiting process and I need to decide what's best for me. He said it's hard to tell if a coach will even be at the school my whole four years."
The Iowa coaches have told Garmon he would play early in his college career, he said.
"I know I'll have to compete," Garmon said. "They like that I'm a big back with a lot of speed. They said they're going to put weight on me. They like that I'm a coachable guy."
Garmon estimates that he could add 15 pounds to his upper body and not lose any of his speed or quickness.
As a junior, Garmon rushed for 1,225 yards and 11 touchdowns on 141 carries in the Wishbone Offense. He also caught seven balls for 147 yards and two scores.
Garmon was scheduled to visit Notre Dame on Wednesday but had to cancel the trip and return to Erie. One of the coaches in his traveling party needed to get home for personal reasons.