One of the bigger decisions of the recruiting cycle will take place this upcoming week as three-star Omaha (Neb.) South athlete Noah Fant selects where he'll play his college football.
Fant has narrowed down his list to five finalists; Nebraska, Iowa, UCLA, California, and Vanderbilt. The perks of ending his process before the start of the season was too good to pass up.
"My decision is this upcoming Friday August 28," Fant confirmed. "I wanted to get it done before the season. I didn't want to worry about my recruitment going into all the games. I wanted to get it out of the way. I felt like it was the best thing to do."
He's listed as a defensive end in the Scout database, but Fant also projects as a tight end, with most of the teams in pursuit having offered him as an athlete and have told him he could decide what side of the ball he starts out on.
As has been reported thoroughly throughout the duration of his recruitment, one of the main factors for him in his decision process is related to academics.
"A big part of (choosing my school) is academics because I want to be an orthopedic surgeon," Fant pointed out. "I want a school that is good on the academic side. Also, I want a school that I really fit in with as a player. I'm looking for a great family environment. Those are the two biggest things."
"The third thing is I also want to be somewhere that my family could be involved and come see me," he added. "Most of my family is located in the Omaha area, but they're also very comfortable with flying out to the west coast. It's a straight flight to Los Angeles or they can fly into San Francisco. We talked through that and they have mentioned that it isn't a problem if I were to pick one of those schools out there."
The Nebraska native has visited all of his finalists just once, which is not typical for any recruit. They have usually visited at least a couple schools multiple times, but not Fant. He explains the intent of his trips and what he discovered.
"There wasn't a place or a visit that stood out predominantly," he shared. "The main purpose was just to get a lot of information. We got the information we wanted, and took in as much as we could. We're impressed with all the schools. It's a great place to be in to have those scholarships."
The 15th best defensive end prospect in the Midlands region also went in-depth on what he found out academically about the programs.
"All of them stand out in my field of study, too," said Fant. "UCLA, Cal, Vanderbilt, Iowa, and Nebraska all have good medical programs. That's actually a plus for all those schools because they all possess those assets. They don't all have a concentration in orthopedics, but I'm not sure what I'm going to major in as an undergrad."
"We talked to all of the academic advisors and they all at least have a track for me to go onto so that I can become an orthopedic surgeon," he continued. "It can all work out."
The Hawkeyes' pursuit of his services has caught his eye.
"What made me really interested in Iowa was that they want me pretty bad," Fant admitted. "They're making me a priority recruit for them. It's a great school to go to as far as being a tight end and defensive end. They've pumped out a lot of those out to the NFL. It's a great place to get developed. They recruit me hard."
"Iowa impressed me on the orthopedic side of their medicine program," he went on. "I got to meet a couple of doctors and I was very impressed with everything that they have there."
As a kid growing up in Omaha, there's always been a strong pull to play in Lincoln for the Cornhuskers. Fant offered insight into how it has been to go through that.
"Yeah, there's a little bit of pressure," he admitted about the area's desire for him to play for Nebraska. "I feel like everyone would understand if I don't choose them, or be happy if I do. At the end of the day, you have to find out what school is the best fit for you. I'd say there's a bit of pressure, but not too much."
The new regime at Nebraska wants Fant to be a Cornhusker as well, and he's taken notice of their progress since arriving in Lincoln.
"They're going in a great direction," Fant explained. "They're on the rise. I'm very interested to see how they do. It's really close to home and the coaching staff is great. The facilities are really nice. It's a school that is pretty good, too."
Fant's trip out west opened his eyes. The Bruins and Golden Bears both gave strong presentations to he and his family.
"The trip to UCLA was a really impressive visit," he told Scout. "I got to see the whole campus. I got to see all the facilities. I was able to meet with Coach Mora, and the other coaches that have recruited me. All the different things that they showed me with the medical program, and the academic advisors, it was pretty cool."
"I was pretty impressed by the visit to Cal as well. They're huge on academics. Their football team is on the rise. I was definitely impressed."
The burning question is if Fant, a senior from Omaha, Nebraska, can go that far for school and still feel comfortable. He believes so.
"Yeah, I'm the type that likes to travel a lot," he stressed. "I like to get away from home a bit. But I also like being at home. I don't feel like the distance would be a problem for me."
*** UPDATE: After the publishing of this story, Noah Fant was offered by Arizona State.
When asked if the new development changed anything, he responded, "Not quite sure yet."