After driving back to Iowa from Michigan the night before, Ross Pierschbacher woke up early on Tuesday. It was his birthday.
The 2014 Cedar Falls (Iowa) High offensive lineman didn't get up to celebrate. He was headed to lift weights - No Days Off.
Pierschbacher placed his sizable talents on the national stage for the first time this past weekend. He challenged himself against some of the best players in the country at the Nike Football Training Camp (NFTC) in Champaign, Ill.
"It was different than anything I've ever done before," the 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive tackle said. "It was kind of like a best-of-the-Midwest type of thing, which was pretty cool, just knowing some of the higher-publicity guys were there and seeing them in action. It was good to get an idea where I'm at compared to them."
Pierschbacher never has rested on his natural talent. He's worked at it almost every day, year round, since he started on the varsity as a freshman, maybe before. He spent time with many players equally as consumed by the game at the NFTC event.
"It definitely was intense," Pierschbacher said. "I think having those high-profile players there make it intense. Having it be Nike and all the recruiters there and just trying to put on a show for them definitely makes it intense."
As Pierschbacher said, he wanted to gauge how he matched up with the country's best.
"You got to kind of prove yourself to be as good or better than some of the guys there," he said.
Pierschbacher matched up with '13 Indiana DE Elijah Daniel, a four-star recruit and Scout's No. 4-ranked player at his position nationally in his class.
"I feel like I did pretty good,' Pierschbacher said of the camp. "I think I learned quickly what they wanted me to do and tweaked my form to what they liked, which I think, in the end boded well for me. One-on-ones, I did alright. I went up against some of the best D-Ends in the country."
Pierschbacher also learned that he had already made a name for himself before arriving in Champaign.
"There were some guys in my grade who came up and asked me if I was from Iowa," he said. "They kind of knew a little bit about me."
Apart from receiving a higher volume of letters, Pierschbacher said it's been pretty quiet on the recruiting front. He did take an unofficial to Michigan on Monday after the NFTC.
"I can tell it's picking up," he said. "More schools are taking time to communicate with me. But I'm not too terribly busy with the letters and everything. I'm not really overwhelmed by it or anything. Next year it's going to pick up the most. We'll see then."
Pierschbacher, who reports scholarship offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin, plans to camp with the Badgers on June 17.
"I might stay up there for an extra day," he said. "I'd like to do an even more in-depth tour."
Michigan also would like a return trip from Pierschbacher this summer.
"On July 29, I got invited back to Michigan to go to their little barbecue they're having for the 2013-2014 prospects," he said. "I'm not sure yet if I'm going."
Iowa, who was the second school overall and first one from the BCS level to offer Pierschbacher a scholarship, plans to see Iowa City again this summer. Northern Iowa was the first to come forward with an opportunity for the offensive lineman.
"They came to the state track meet," Pierschbacher said of the Hawkeyes. "Coach Brian Ferentz and Coach (Reese) Morgan were there talking to my family. Coach Ferentz sent my dad a letter saying it was nice to meet the family and they want to get them down there again.
"I think this summer I'm going to give them a call and see if we can come down for a day. I want to hook up with the coaches again to see how (the offensive line) has changed from Coach Morgan to Coach Ferentz; see how things are going there."
The success of a program will play a role in Pierschbacher's decision, he said.
"I don't think it's record wise," he said. "I don't think that really matters. But how they're doing offensive-line wise, it matters; not particularly this year. I understand it takes more than a year to kind of get things rolling. But, yeah, I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it and it will come into consideration, I'd say."
Pierschbacher said he's not going to travel a lot again until after the upcoming season.
"We have a short summer and camp starts pretty early for us," Pierschbacher said Tuesday morning. "I'm going to lift in about an hour. Not sure what else. I might go to a steak house tonight."
He can work it off tomorrow.