It used to be rare that Iowa would extend scholarship offers before athletes played as high school juniors. It's not the case anymore.
Twins Landan Paulsen and Levi Paulsen attracted attention last season as sophomores. The Moville (Iowa) Woodbury Central linemen continued to impress at Iowa's camp earlier in the summer. By the end of June, the Hawkeyes offered them scholarships, the first in-state opportunities handed out in the class by the school.
Woodbury Central Coach Kelly Manker knows he has something special on his hands. He talks about the talented brothers in this piece HI published a few weeks ago.
I caught up with Landan and Levi Sunday night to ask them a few questions about Iowa and their recruitment. Their answers are listed below.
1. What did it mean to you to get the Iowa offer?
Landan: Well, it definitely means a lot. It's a big honor, but right now we are truly focused on high school ball. Later in our high school careers we will start thinking more about college.
Levi: For anyone it would be considered a great honor because Iowa Hawkeye football can't give out an infinite supply of scholarships. So, Landan and I are really lucky and thankful for the offer and it gives us more motivation than we already have to become quality football players.
2. What are your thoughts on the Hawkeyes?
Landan: Everything about the Hawkeyes is amazing; the coaches, facilities, players, and the town. It's just a great atmosphere all around.
Levi: My thoughts on the Hawks is first that their coaching staff is a great group of men who truly care and respect just about anyone they come across. Second, is the facilities and players. They have some very caring and easy going players that are very easy to talk and relate to. The facilities are top of the line, and the new football only facility that is under construction and coming soon will be a very big treat to all the players and all members of Hawkeye football. I am very excited to see what it turns out like.
3. What do the Iowa coaches say they like about you and what positions do they see you playing in college?
Landan: They said they like our work ethic, our frame size, and the fact that we are home grown, straight from Iowa. They see us both playing offensive line and that is what they are mainly recruiting us for.
Levi: The coaches are still unsure on what positions we will end up playing in college. We both have two more years to develop and see what positions will fit us best in college. The Iowa coaches say they like the base that we have. Don't get me wrong, me and Landan do have a big base, but we really need to focus on getting stronger and quicker. We still have two more years of our high school football careers and that's what we need to focus on first before moving on to college ball. The coaches also like our grades, family, mentality, and work ethic.
4. What did you guys get to see/do during this weekend's Iowa visit?
Landan: This weekend we got a tour of the whole campus, the locker rooms and all of the football facilities. We had one-on-one visits with the coaches and learned a lot about the team and the coaches. We also got to interact with some other recruits which was pretty neat.
Levi: This weekend we got to talk one-on-one with Brian Ferentz, Kirk Ferentz, and coach (Reese) Morgan. We also got to see the weight room, locker rooms, and coach LeVar Woods gave all the recruits and their families a walk through of what it's like walking through the tunnel onto the Kinnick Stadium turf on game day. The last thing we did was talk to teachers and students of the same 'career interests' and talk to them about what it is like. Also visiting with other recruits was fun and interesting to hear what some had to say.
5. What are your team/individual goals for the upcoming season at Woodbury Central?
Landan: My team goal would definitely be to get to the (UNI-)Dome and play as a whole. I mean that's what every high school player wants. An individual goal would be to get more explosion off of the line of scrimmage on both ends of the ball. These are just a few goals.
Levi: A team goal would be play as a whole and also make it to the state championship game and bring home the gold. It hasn't been done since 1980, and I think it's time to change. For an individual goal I would say be more violent with my hands and teach underclassmen the ropes, and guide them along the way. Me and Landan both have a long ways to go. There are other guys out there fighting for the same dream of both a state championship in high school and to make an impact in college ball. Hopefully, hard work will pay off in the long run.