It's true that prospects often can follow up a questionable junior year with a much improved senior year in catching a coach's eye. However, after three weeks into the season, after Barry Laird was asked by head coach Dick Olin to switch over from quarterback to tight end, who would have imagined that a high major program like Iowa would give him a look?
The Hawkeyes already have promising targets Anthony Moeaki and Chase Coffman on their board, and an in-state guy in Kyle Spading as a fallback, much like Brandon Myers of a year ago. But then Coach Olin, the father of Iowa quarterback Drew Tate, sent film of Laird to the Hawkeyes. In turn, Iowa immediately called to set a visit with Baird.
"I received my first call from Coach (Eric) Johnson last Wednesday," Laird said. "He told me that he really felt I ran well and caught the ball well, and they wanted to get me up on an official visit. Coach Olin had sent film to Iowa, Baylor and two other schools and they were the first to respond."
Baird has only had a few weeks of experience at tight end after playing last season and the beginning of this season at quarterback. He had received some interest from both Baylor and BYU as a quarterback, but Iowa has been the program to show him any significant interest as a tight end.
"We were struggling the first couple of games, and we had a sophomore (Jeremy Moses) who is a pretty good young quarterback. We started to use some tight formations, the first time since 1998, and coach decided to put me at tight end. I've been used in both blocking and receiving situations, and I'm just hopeful that it provides me an opportunity to play football in college," said the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Laird.
Laird indicated Coach Johnson told him despite coming on an official visit, he should not assume that an offer was automatically forthcoming. That honesty and what he has heard from his former teammates has created high interest in Iowa.
"From what Drew (Tate) tells me, he really likes it up there. Coach Olin told me that Drew has said the people have treated him great, and they are very nice. I know Charles (Godfrey) has also been saying he likes it up there very much. The only change I know is that it is going to be a lot colder up there than down here on December 3rd," Baird said.
For the time being, Baird is just thankful Iowa has decided to give him a strong look as a potential offer.
"Before Iowa called, I didn't think I was going to be playing football anywhere. I thought I was headed to Lee Community College here in Baytown, and they only have a basketball and volleyball program. I don't play either of those sports," Laird added jokingly.
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