Bulaga Follows in Hartlieb Footsteps

When Iowa fans think of Woodstock, Ill. & Marion Catholic High School, the names of Chuck, Jim and John Hartlieb instantly come to mind. There was a Hartlieb letterwinner on the Iowa football roster each year between 1986 and 1994. A new name from Woodstock will one day be added to that list as offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. The highly recruited Bulaga, who had offers from the likes of Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin, talks about his commitment.

As a junior, Bryan Bulaga had 90 tackles and nearly 200 receiving yards. But his future in college will be on the offensive line, without a doubt. Iowa let Bulaga know from first blush that they wanted him as an offensive lineman, where other schools that were showing interest were throwing out words like ‘maybe' when it came to offense or defense.

The 6-5, 250-pounder from Marion Central Catholic High in Woodstock, Ill, is certainly agile enough to play multiple positions. But that is just the type of attribute that Iowa likes to see in its future offensive linemen.

Bulaga's recruitment went from under the radar to front page type in a matter of months. Nearly three-quarters of the Big Ten conference offered him a scholarship (Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois), with Oklahoma State and Nebraska offering from the Big 12.

For Bulaga, Iowa football was love at first sight, and the rest of the schools really didn't have a chance.

Q: When did your interest in Iowa become serious?

Bryan Bulaga: The first time I went there for a junior day against Michigan, I told my parents on the way home, that if I got an offer, this is where I wanted to go. I felt completely comfortable there. I have a great relationship with Coach Erb, my recruiting coach. The overall atmosphere of Iowa City has that good, home feeling and that is what I was looking for in a school and that is the one school that had it for me.

Q: You visited Wisconsin and had offers from Michigan and Nebraska; those are some pretty big names and schools with great facilities and good coaches. But it sounds like choosing Iowa was a simple decision for you.

Bulaga: Nebraska and Michigan came in knowing that I was going to Iowa on Saturday, and I am not sure if they offered me so late just to get me thinking. I pretty much had my mind set on Iowa. I took a look at Nebraska and searched on them, and that was too far away from me and my parents. My mom didn't want me to go that far away, so that was out of the question. Michigan is a great program and whatnot, but it didn't intrigue me as much as Iowa. I am not one of those guys that has a huge ‘I love this big school' kind of guy. I like Iowa, I liked it from the start and Michigan didn't do it for me.

Q: Is it fair to say that Iowa and their football program fit your personality more than the rest?

Bulaga: It does fit my personality. A hard working program, not very flashy, not showy at all. Just hard working; you get what you put into it. How hard you work is what your payoff is, and that is what I am. Everything fits me perfectly.

Q: Did it help Iowa in that they had you slotted as an offensive linemen from the start of their recruitment of you?.

Bulaga: That was huge. They weren't a school that said ‘maybe defense, maybe offense.' They had me set in stone on the offensive line, and that is where I wanted to play in college and that helped me. I wasn't wavering on ‘what if this happens'. That helped out a ton. It wasn't that way with some of the other schools.

Q: Have any friends given you a hard time in not staying and playing for the home state Fighting Illini?

Bulaga: Actually, most of my friends were giving me crap about Michigan and Nebraska. They wanted me to go to one of those two schools. That is not where I wanted to go. This is where I am most comfortable. They were just giving me crap, as they don't really mind. There is nothing wrong with Iowa at all, and they know that. All they know about it is the hype about Michigan and the Big House and that kind of stuff. It's my decision, not what other's think.

Q: Before you really started looking at Iowa, is the ‘Hartlieb' name one that you were familiar with? (The Hartlieb Brothers Chuck, Jim and John played for Marion Catholic back in the 1980's before coming to Iowa)

Bulaga: Oh yeah. The Hartlieb Brothers in general are talked about. When you talk about Marion football, that is a name that always comes up. They are living legends here. They won state titles and all that good stuff. They are strong in Marion football.

Q: Does it excite you that you get to follow in their footsteps?

Bulaga: Exactly. It's a good pipeline to Iowa from Marion.

To view Bulaga's profile, which contains five highlight reels, CLICK HERE


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories