Jacob Sobotka pays attention to football recruiting coverage. He sees the four- and five-star recruits being written about time after time.
The under-the-radar prospect from little Mount Ayr, Iowa wonders what he could do on a bigger stage. He might just find out.
On Monday, Sobotka received a preferred walk-on opportunity from Iowa to go with one he already had from Iowa State. Division II Northwest Missouri State has talked about offering him a scholarship when he officially visits the school.
"It would obviously be great to get a scholarship, to get some or a good portion of my college paid for," the 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker said. "But I've always wanted the opportunity to play with the best. The Big Ten and Big 12 are premier conferences.
"I've always wanted to see how I'd size up against the (highly-ranked prospects) you (at Scout.com) call a couple times a week to get updates on."
Sobotka attended camps at Iowa since his sophomore year. He took part in junior day there last winter. Monday, he spoke extensively with assistant Reese Morgan at his school.
"When he got here, we talked a lot about a lot of different things; about what it would be like to be at Iowa," Sobotka said. "He was very honest with me and I really appreciated his honesty. I'm going on an official visit on Feb. 1. That's a great opportunity."
Sobotka said said Morgan held his thumb and index finger closely together to show how far away he was from receiving an Iowa scholarship offer.
"It was down to me and a couple of other in-state kids," Sobotka said. "He said that they decided that they needed some more offensive linemen. He actually said it was a couple of positions. They're already pretty booked on scholarships, I know.
"He explained that there are a lot of kids, even ones they have right now, that are above scholarship players on the depth chart that were walk-ons. He said he talked to Coach (Levar) Woods and Coach (Jim) Reid and he said that they're excited about me. They wanted an opportunity to have me. So, I'm going to go up there Feb. 1st. I'm excited to see their campus and everything on an official visit and learn more."
Iowa sees Sobotka as an inside linebacker. The Cyclones view him on the outside.
"Coach (Chris) Klenakis was my recruiting coordinator," Sobotka said. "He called me two days before he ended up leaving to Louisville and he told me they want me as a preferred walk-on. He said he talked to Coach (Paul) Rhoads and that's what they wanted. He said he thought I would earn a scholarship if I go there."
Sobotka said that he's looking for one of the schools to separate itself from the others on his visits. He has yet to set one up with Iowa State. He looks forward to proving himself wherever he ends up.
"There have been so many Iowa kids that have done that, worked hard at Iowa or Iowa State, and worked their way up the ladder," Sobotka said. "They proved themselves. They may not have had as much (natural) talent as the blue chippers, but they're persistent at it. They develop and get the most out of their talent.
"I'm just thankful for an opportunity to go to a (Division I) school and it's going to be hard to pick between Iowa and Iowa State."