Some people believe that the best friends we make in life are during childhood. If that holds true, it could work in Iowa's favor on the recruiting trail.
Sycamore (IL) High athlete Ben Niemann attended school up until the sixth grade in Indianola, Iowa. After camping with the Hawkeyes on Wednesday, he returned to his home town to spend time with some old friends. Among them was Keegan Render.
Render, an offensive lineman, committed to Iowa on Saturday, the same day the Hawkeyes offered Niemann a scholarship as an outside linebacker.
"Keegan and I are good friends," the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Niemann said. "We played pee wee football on the same team and we hung out this week."
Render shared with Niemann his desire to play with his old friend again but kept it in perspective.
"He told me why he picked Iowa and what he liked about it and factored into his decision but he isn't trying to pressure me or anything," Niemann said.
Niemann verbally committed to Northern Illinois in November. His father, Jay Niemann, is the Huskies defensive coordinator.
"Well, I was committed to NIU (before Iowa offered), and I still am," Ben said. "But I just need to sit down with my family and evaluate the situation."
Jay Niemann, a native of Avoca, Iowa, spent much of his 26-year coaching career in his home state, with stops at Simpson (Iowa) College, the Northern Iowa and Drake. Niemann compiled a 32-29 record in his six seasons as head coach at Simpson (2002-07), where he led the Storm to the 2003 NCAA playoffs while also serving as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.
"It'll be difficult; (a decision) I really have to put a lot of time and thought into," Ben said.
Niemann said Iowa began recruiting him in the spring. Jim Reid took the lead.
"They said I was quick, fast and had good length and if I put on 20 pounds they saw me as a good linebacker," Niemann said.
The coaches toured Iowa with Niemann after his camp stop on Wednesday.
"It was a good visit," he said. "I like the campus and the facilities and I enjoyed being around the coaches and players."
"I really don't have a preference," Niemann said when it comes to his college position.
Niemann is looking to major in business or sports management. A final decision on where that will be remains up in the air.
"At this point, I'm not sure," Niemann said.