Munir Prince: Father & Son Sold On Iowa

Parents want the best for their children. It's one of the fundamental aspects of life and it lasts forever. Elmer Rhodes wanted no less for his son Munir Prince. So when his son wanted to commit to the University of Iowa in the summer of 2004, and having met Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, both father and son knew that their search was over. HawkeyeNation.com's Jon Miller was able to speak with Rhodes and Prince while they were in San Antonio this weekend.

Munir Prince of St. Louis, Mo., committed to the University of Iowa in the summer of 2004, just before he started two-a-day workouts for his junior season of high school football.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Prince wants to play running back at the next level, but he might also be a cornerback prospect.

Prince was slated to be the starting running back for Tampa, Florida area powerhouse Armwood High School (Seffner) during his sophomore year of 2003, but the family moved back to the St. Louis area.

In our Q & A with Munir and his father Elmer Rhodes, we talk about his commitment to Iowa, his relationship with Class of 2005 commit Kalvin Bailey (of Armwood HS) as well as how leaving Florida was not the easiest decision for father and son.

Both of them were in San Antonio this week for the US Army All American Junior Combine event, and that is where this interview took place.

Why did you commit to Iowa so early?

First of all, Iowa has the #2 rated sports medicine program in the nation, and that is what I want to study in college. So that took care of the academic side. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz is a great coach who looks out for his players, and that is the kind of coach that I want. The football program is definitely on the upswing, so that is always good. I have been there (to Iowa) twice. I saw the Michigan State game and I went there on another occasion just to look around.

Being that you committed there, did you watch Iowa's Capital One Bowl game and what were your thoughts on how it ended?

Oh yeah. After I saw Drew Tate throw that ball….I think he is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. He does not get a lot of respect, but it was just such an exciting game. Ever since I committed to Iowa, I watched every single game, and it has been great.

Outside of that game, what other Iowa game fro the 2004 season sticks out in your mind?

Probably the Wisconsin game. They showed that you don't have to have a dominant running game and they just opened up the pass. They won without a running game. Coach Ferentz is one of the top reasons that I came to Iowa because I like how he handles his players.

You told me that you wanted to play running back at Iowa. How did it make you feel to learn that a former teammate and friend of yours, Kalvin Bailey, had committed to Iowa?

It reassured me, because Kalvin and I go way back. It was really good for me to see Kalvin going to Iowa. He is a strong back but he has speed, so having a big fullback like that paving the way for you is a great thing to have.

I talked to Coach Cal (Armwood Coach Sean Callahan, coach at Armwood High School) After he told me that Kalvin had committed, I was very excited to know that a big fullback was going to be going to Iowa, especially one who is as good as Kalvin in as considering that we are friends.

Before I spoke with you, your father told me that Nebraska has offered you a scholarship. Other schools are sure to follow. Do you think you will take other visits, or is your commitment to Iowa solid?

I might take some visits, but I am pretty much set on Iowa because they have everything that I am looking for. So I am set on Iowa.

ELMER RHODES, MUNIR'S FATHER

Why did you move from Tampa to St. Louis?

We left because of my job transfer. I am in the construction industry and a project ended, so we moved back to St. Louis for Munir's sophomore year.

How did Munir handle that news?

Not well. We argued a month straight every day at the dinner table about sending him back. He was depressed, because the team that he was on in Missouri was 2-8, so you can imagine the conversations we were having on the way home from games. Then you look at Armwood and they have won back to back state titles and he was slotted to be that tailback for the 2003 season.

He still brings up what Armwood is doing, and if he had his way, he would go back today. And that is not out of the picture.

How proud of your son were you when he received the offer from Iowa?

Very proud. Coach Callahan from Armwood helped to get us in touch with each other. I guess he believed in Munir enough to put in a word to Iowa, and we went on an unofficial visit when we were there (Des Moines) for an AAU track and field event. We fell in love with them on the spot. We talked about his major with the Iowa coaches, as Munir has always wanted to major in Sports Medicine. I wanted to make sure that they would not have a problem with that, due to his football schedule and the demands of his major.

When they told us that it would not be a problem, and that they are committed to the student side first, I was pretty much sold. I do believe that you can find what you are looking for on your first visit; you don't have to take that long process.

Since you were able to get the commitment ‘out of the way' at such an early phase, did that allow you and your son to become fans of Iowa?

We almost went to the game in Orlando, but we stayed home. We did not miss a game on TV this year. We watched them all. Munir is really into them. He would get a lot of phone calls from other schools, and I left it up to him. I did tell him that if he wants to look other places, it has to come down to academics. He has to give me a good reason why he would switch. But he has stayed strong with Iowa, and that is what I expect to happen, because Iowa's Sports Medicine program is about as good as it gets.

Northwestern has been pushing on him, as has Wisconsin and Nebraska. But we believe if you are not gaining anything, you stay put.

What was your reaction when Iowa won the Capital One Bowl game with that last play?

That was amazing. Without a running game and to do that, that is just fate on their side. All in all, after meeting Coach Ferentz, I just think he is a blessed man. Some people are in favor with God, and I think he is in favor with God. After meeting him, you don't think of him as a football coach first; I think of him as a father. He has sons, and I think he treats his sons the way that I want my son to be treated. And I think he considers the men on his football team as his sons. That is my comfort level with him. I feel that I am sending my son to a man who will watch out for him the way that I would.

That is important to us and we talk about that a lot. Stay out of trouble, keep your head in your books and do what you are supposed to do, because those four or five years fly by. Don't get frustrated if you don't play right away, you are there for the education. You are not coming home; you are getting a degree. And I know the Iowa coaches are going to see that it happens.

They graduate a lot of their players, so you can tell that it's something that they just don't talk about, like some schools. They make sure that these kids are not just names to help them win games; they invest in their futures. What more can a father ask for?


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