Our ears perked up last month when the stagnant recruitment of Iowa offensive tackle Matt Pipho took on new life. The La Porte City standout had held offers from Stanford and Iowa State since May, but other suitors had been slow to jump on board. Out of nowhere, the Oregon Ducks took the plunge in October with Pipho's third offer, and soon thereafter the Miami Hurricanes ramped up their interest. The Union High School senior sent a tape of game film to Coral Gables (Fla.), and he received a call last Thursday with news of his fourth and biggest offer yet.
For months, we had considered really one scenario deleterious to the Cardinal's chances in landing this 6'7" athletic offensive tackle. He has long been fond of his home state Iowa Hawkeyes, with whom he camped this summer and were continually evaluating him. In fact, when Pipho changed his publicly stated recruiting timeframe from a late summer decision to a winter target, that was implicitly interpreted as a move to give the coaches in Iowa City chances to watch him during his senior season. The draw of the Hawkeyes for a lifelong state resident like Pipho would be compelling, and possibly lethal to the chances of a distant suitor like Stanford. Granted, the Card corralled Jon Cochran four years ago from the two top state schools when nobody in the Midwest thought it possible he could leave Iowa.
With Pipho's senior season recently concluded, at a 6-3 mark that missed the playoffs, there remain no Big 10 offers for him. Iowa has tarried on the sidelines, as have Minnesota and Wisconsin. All three schools call and write him, but none have taken the scholarship plunge. Instead, the lean 260-pound athlete has his three biggest offers from schools on the coasts. It seems more than a coincidence that the Big 10 suitors close to home have taken a pass, while schools known for a different offensive style have jumped in with both feet. The data fits with his build, which lacks the big beef endemic to Big 10 run-dominated offenses. The Cardinal, Canes and Ducks all value athleticism and mobility for their protections and schemes.
"It's a little different than what I expected," Pipho says of his bicoastal recruitment. "A lot of the schools tell me the like linemen who are quicker and not necessarily just big."
The 6'7" lineman took his athletic ability and translated it into strong play this fall. In addition to his footwork and mobility, he showed improved blocking technique and a greater mastery of his craft.
"I'm happy with how I played this year," he allows. "I could tell a big difference between how I played this year and last year. My technique was better and I played quicker."
No longer waiting for the Hawkeyes, Pipho declares that his top three are Miami, Stanford and Oregon. The only offer school left out in the cold are the in-state Cyclones, but that is not too surprising. We have long believed that he was not a big fan of Iowa State, and now that his options have multiplied, he can afford to look away.
The next question is the timing of his official visits and ultimate decision. By now, you would expect some visit dates to be set in stone for Pipho, but he is still working those through. The difficulty lies with his basketball season, which will start rolling soon. As important as these visits are to his future, he wants to schedule them around his basketball schedule as much as possible. The best he can tell right now, as related to The Bootleg is that he will likely visit Miami this month, Oregon during his one open weekend in early December, and Stanford last on January 17. That timing is both good and bad news for Cardinal fans. The last visit is often prized by college recruiters because of the final impact and impressions it leaves on the prospective student-athlete, though the danger lies in the waiting game. The pressure of phone calls and in-home visits in December and January can reach a breaking point for some recruits, and it is often difficult for them to continue with the weight of the process through the Holidays. Stanford could theoretically never get that January visit if Pipho feels he has to pull the trigger before then.
"It depends on how much I like the visits," he comments on the chances of committing before the January trip to Palo Alto. "But unless I really, really like one of the first schools, I won't commit until I take all my visits."
Also keep in mind that Pipho took an unofficial visit to The Farm this past summer, meeting players and coaches and viewing facilities. It is a mere shell of the experience that an official visit carries, even in the new watered-down age of NCAA restrictions, but that July trip out West does give him a tangible feel for the school, the people and the weather. You may also be interested to learn that Pipho took an unofficial visit to Miami this summer while on vacation with his family. Though the Canes just recently jumped in with a full-press recruitment, he already has the impressions of that trip in his hip pocket.
"I met with the graduate assistant who works with the offensive line," the recruit recalls from his time in Coral Gables. "I didn't get around the campus too much. I saw more of the facilities, and I was pretty impressed."
Some good news for Stanford fans came several weeks ago, when Pipho received word that he had been accepted through the admissions process for the University. He has been a strong admissions candidate all along, and it was really just a question of when he would finish his application. We originally expected he would fast-track filling out his application during the summer, but it stretched into the fall. Still, it was a celebrated day in his home when he got the call in early October.
"I was pretty happy with that, whatever I decide to do with my decision," Pipho explains. "It's a pretty big accomplishment to get admitted to Stanford."
Some bad news comes in the Union HS senior's stated preferences of schools. Cardinal fans would hope that Stanford would hold some first-mover advantage, with having offered a full five months before Oregon and Miami. However, that did little to help Iowa State, and it now appears that Pipho is strictly evaluating his options at this point and not the history that brought them here.
"Right now, all three are about even," he declares. "In the beginning of my recruitment, I really wanted to be a Hawkeye. Now I have other opportunities that have opened my eyes. It's nice to see different places and expand my horizons."
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