There is an old adage that goes something like this:
It's lonely at the top.
While Barrington offensive lineman Dan Doering would not be so braggadocios to say he is ‘at the top', those of us that follow recruiting closely know the numbers.
He is one of the highest rated players in the nation, regardless of position. He is one of the highest rated offensive linemen in the nation. At 6-foot-6, 290-pounds, he is a load at the high school level, even if it is Class 8 in Illinois, the state's largest.
But Doering is also entering his senior season in high school, and he is surrounded by prep teammates and coaches who have not, and will not walk a mile in his shoes.
So when he gets the chance to speak with a friend who has been through the same things he is going through, it's a breath of fresh air.
Such was the case in Iowa City on Sunday when the Doering family visited Iowa City for what is believed to be the eighth time since February.
Doering was able to catch up with his friend Jake Christensen (Lockport, IL).
The two met in January at the US Army All Star game and have stayed in touch ever since. Geographically speaking, it makes sense, as the two of them live in suburban Chicago.
But it also makes sense on a personal level, as each of them is considered to be among the best players in the nation at their position.
"That has been a really good thing (meeting Jake through the recruiting process). Especially for me, being one of the only kids from my high school team that is being heavily recruited and being in that position, you tend to feel lonely." Doering said.
"Especially being the captain; you are helping all of your teammates out, but you really don't have anyone that can help you out, because they might not be in the same position. I am blessed to be in that position, but you sometimes wish you had someone to talk with that knows what you are dealing with."
"The coaches help, but talking to peer's in the same position you are in and getting advice on things is different, and that is where Jake and I have bonded. The time that we get to spend together is great and our conversations can be uplifting."
The two friends and their families had dinner together in Iowa City on Sunday and Dan and Jake drove together for part of their trek back to the Windy City, while their fathers rode in another vehicle.
As stated earlier, the two were in Iowa City to attend a practice sessions by the Iowa Hawkeyes.
"I was talking with (Chicago-area native and current Iowa offensive lineman) Mike Jones, asking questions about pass blocking. Actually, Coach (Kirk) Ferentz, Coach (Reese) Morgan and Mike Jones helped me answer a few questions. We started two a days last Wednesday, and this week will be a full week of work, I just felt like coming to Iowa today to get more information and to get ready for the season. Seeing these college linemen go at it helps to get me pumped up and get some fire." Doering said.
Jones sat out Iowa's practice with a leg injury, though it was not serious. That afforded the two to spend more time together and continue their discussions from June when they had dinner together on another Doering visit to Iowa City.
"Yeah, that was nice how it worked out, but I am not glad that he is hurt (laughing). It was nice talking with him and that gave me a great chance to learn some more and catch up on things."
Doering started practice for his high school season last Wednesday, and he was glad that he took the time to travel to Iowa and watch some of the ‘big uglies' trade helmet paint.
"Just watching them, getting the visualization of the big linemen going at it; when I get back to my high school practices, I will visualize the steps and the hitting and the aggressiveness and just use that as motivation. At least I do. When I watch football games, I try to imitate what they do to make myself better. "
Barrington will field a young team this year, however, Dan's goals are set very high.
"We are going to have a pretty young team. We might come out one day and have a bad practice, but the next practice we will be ten times better. We seem to be a team that bounces back from adversity pretty well." Doering said.
"Our goals are to win our conference, make the playoffs and win a state title. Winning state is definitely there for us. Our coaches are working on us hard to reach that goal."
Though the Doering's had a busy spring and summer, unofficially visiting Iowa, Nebraska, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee, among other colleges, there was still time to stay abreast of current events, such as former Hawkeye and 2003 Outland Trophy winner Robert Gallery signing a $60 million dollar contract with the Oakland Raiders.
"I don't really read the papers that much, but my dad showed me an article about Gallery signing a $60 million dollar contract. That is pretty dang cool (laughs). Going from where he came from, he was a farm kid, right?" Doering opined.
"Just going from that to a $60 million dollar left tackle, playing football for the Oakland Raiders…that is what makes Iowa so intriguing, that if you just go there, put in your time and hard work, you are going to get the benefits of it."
"You are not going to get any politics or any of that crap. It's wholehearted, Midwest football. You have to put your work in in order to play and that is what I really like about it."
Doering told us that he is still committed to taking at least the three official visits he has promised to Iowa, Nebraska and Notre Dame before making a decision, and that he is not any nearer a decision today than he was in previous updates.
"Now that my high school season has started, I am going to concentrate on winning football games. I know that September will be a hectic month (coaches can call starting September 1st), but my teammates need for me to be there for them, and that is what I plan to do."
Doering hopes to make it out to a football game at at least the three schools they have promised official visits to.