When you look at James Townsend, you see a physically developed football player well beyond his 19 years. His 6-1, 185-pound frame features rippled biceps and powerful legs.
A closer examination of the Iowa true freshman reveals the name "Jazelle" tatooed on the inside of his right forearm. It tells the story of a young man that has had to grow up fast.
Jazelle is Townsend's 10-month old daughter. His decision too move half way across the country to play college football was made in large part because of her.
"Basically, I came out here to make her life better," Townsend said. "It's not all about me anymore. It's all about her now. I just know that I'm out here to try to go to the league (NFL) to make life better for her. I don't want her to have a tough life."
Townsend represented a key component in an Iowa recruiting class ranked fifth in the Big Ten by The Insiders.com. Those scouts tabbed the speedy receiver as the 49th best player in the Atlantic Region.
The product of Holy Cross High in Delran, New Jersey hauled in 52 passes for 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He racked up 161 receptions for 2,663 yards and 31 scores in his career.
Former University of Nebraska and NFL star Irving Fryer, a New Jersey native, coaches the wide receivers at Holy Cross. His tutelage should give Townsend an edge in learning his position in college.
Albert Young, also a true freshman at Iowa, played against Townsend in high school. Young promised that Hawkeye fans will pleasantly surprised with his friend.
"His routes will be precise," Young said. "With his speed, you can expect him to get down the field. If they look one way, he might be in the end zone already. He's that type of player. He's a big time receiver."
Much like Young, who is competing for playing time at running back, Townsend desires to get into games this season.
"With the God-given ability that I have, I think that I can come in right away and help the team out," Townsend said. "There's no "I" in team. So, if I'm on the sideline rooting my team on, that's the good thing about it."
Townsend is willing to earn his respect by going all out on special teams, the starting point for many Hawkeyes who have went on to every-down success.
"I'll be on punt returns and kickoff returns," said Townsend, who was a returner in high school. "I'll do whatever it takes to get on the offense."
Townsend certainly possesses the speed to cause opponents problems anywhere on the field. He is the reigning New Jersey prep champion in the 100-meter dash after running the event in a blistering electronically-timed 10.45 seconds this spring.
Townsend runs the 40 in 4.36 seconds and is at or near the top of the list of the fastest Hawkeyes.
Iowa receivers Mo Brown and Ed Hinkel have taken the rookie under their wings. The Hawkeyes lost C.J. Jones to the NFL and Clinton Solomon to academic problems, and are searching for third and fourth options in the passing game.
"Mo and Ed Hinkle have helped me out a lot," Townsend said. "I expected to come in and ask them anyway because they're veterans. They've been through it."
Young and Townsend have leaned on each other in learning and adjusting to a new part of the country. They both were raised in shadows of Philadelphia. The players said that they have been treated well and made to feel at home by the University of Iowa community and the town in which it is located.
"It's a good feeling," Townsend said. "And the air is better. I know that. I like it out here. When I came out here, I just felt like I was home. Everything just felt good. The players showed me a lot of love. I fit right in."
Being away from Jezelle has been the toughest adjustment for Townsend.
"I know that it's starting to hit him now," Young said. "It didn't seem to bother him at first. Now he talks about how much he misses her and stuff. But that's normal."
Despite his youth, Townsend focuses clearly on his future. He is driven to succeed.
"My family just wanted to see me play football at a great school and bring home the cash and help move them out of a tough part of New Jersey," Townsend said. "That's what I intend to do."