Byham: Iowa Sold Itself

Every summer it seems that Iowa is sitting well with a few National Top 100 players, but for the past few years, the tight end position has been a hot spot for the Hawkeye coaching staff. This summer, Iowa is once again coveting one of the nation's elite tight ends in Nate Byham, who took a visit to Iowa City this summer and says Iowa will be in contention for his services.

Iowa hopes to sign two tight ends in the Class of 2006, and undoubtedly, one of the top targets is Nate Byham.

Byham suffered a fractured bone in his left thumb during a 7-on-7 camp held at the University of Pittsburgh back on June 17th and actually had surgery just two days. He noted that he was in a pretty low-key mood while recovering from the injury, but still was more than pleased to speak about his visit to the University of Iowa.

"Iowa is a real nice place," Byham said. "It really was everything I expected."

You'll have to excuse for me cutting in at this point, but that was a surprising statement to me coming from a Pennsylvania kid. Through my five-plus years of covering high school football recruiting, Byham might be the first east coast prospect to tell me Iowa City wasn't a surprise in the fact there isn't a cornfield nearby.

"Nah, I knew there was some Pennsylvania guys already out there and I had heard enough good things about the area," Byham said with a laugh. "I figured that if it was good enough for Pennsylvania guys to actually play there that it must be a nice place and it met my expectations."

Specifically, Byham liked the facilities he saw in Iowa City.

"They have some very nice facilities, and you can't go wrong with that coaching staff. They are very easy to talk to and are very down-to-earth people. I spoke with the ball boy, and then five minutes later when I was speaking with Coach Ferentz, it felt like I was speaking to the same guy."

"The Iowa coaches don't push anything on you or give you some propaganda in just trying to sell their school. They said they hoped I liked what they had to offer, to make sure to find the place I feel most comfortable with and that they hoped they could make Iowa as comfortable for me as possible. Iowa has the right combination of things I'm looking for with their academic and football programs," stated Byham.

Byham even got the chance to spend some time with some of the Hawks who reside from Pennsylvania.

"I spent the majority of my time with Lucas Cox on the first night I was there, and on the second day, I spent a few hours with Ed Hinkel. I also got to speak with Drew Tate for about 45 minutes, and those guys were all great. It was cool to hang out with big-time players and guys who made such huge plays in the bowl game. They were all like the coaches in the fact they didn't push anything and told me to go where I felt comfortable. It's safe to say because of them and the coaches that I felt comfortable at Iowa."

Byham informed me that he will likely officially visit USC, Miami(FL) and Tennessee sometime during the fall as he has yet to visit any of those schools. He also hopes to make an unofficial visit out to Michigan later this summer and mentioned Pitt and West Virginia as two programs he is also very interested in and has visited on several occasions.

With the arrival of Dave Wannstedt at Pitt, and its location, surely Byham will have a tough time leaving home.

"Coach Wannstedt definitely has made Pitt a bit more enticing, but I liked Pitt for several reasons. I really like the area obviously, as it's close to home. I like what they are doing with the program. I won't have any problem with distance if my best fit is somewhere five to ten hours away, but there is no question that I can also see myself playing at Pitt," said Byham.

Byham insisted he doesn't allow others to get inside his head and said it will more than likely be his gut that tells him where to go.

"You know, I really can't even tell you what will make my decision," Byham said. "It is has been so tough just narrowing my list thus far, not even knowing if some program I've never even thought about is actually my best option. I know how tough it'll be just to choose one, but luckily, I have a lot of time left. I'm hoping that my gut will have a strong enough feeling to be able to choose one of these programs."

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