Ross Pierschbacher heard that football was big in the South. He saw that for himself shortly after arriving in Alabama on Friday.
"We got in the taxi and the driver started talking about football," the Class of 2014 offensive lineman said. "Everywhere we went, people talked about how much they love Alabama. You walk into a restaurant, and everyone is in Alabama stuff.
"I realize it was close to game time, but everyone is wearing Alabama stuff. It's like a religion down there. It's just pretty crazy."
The Scout.com four-star prospect attended the Iron Bowl between the Crimson Tide and Auburn on Saturday. Alabama rolled its rival, 49-0, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Cedar Falls (Iowa) High star spoke with Tide offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and fellow assistant Bobby Williams, who recruits Iowa. Pierschbacher estimated that about 100 recruits were visiting the school on Saturday.
"There was a ton of people there," he said. "After the game, we were all in there together. After a while, Coach (Nick) Saban came in. We couldn't talk to him. He was making his rounds, but we needed to get flying up in the air. We just decide to leave."
Pierschbacher and his father flew to Tuscaloosa in the plane of a family friend. They had a tight schedule to keep.
Stoutland and Williams did not speak with Pierschbacher about a Alabama scholarship offer. Boise State, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Northern Iowa, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have extended opportunities to him.
"It was about building the relationship, I guess," Pierschbacher said of his conversation with the Tide staff. "I can never really tell if they're going to offer or not. I can't for any school, really.
"They want to build the relationship and they want me to stay in touch with them a bunch. That's always a good thing, but we'll see how it goes."
Pierschbacher will try to get out to junior days this winter. The only one he's pretty sure he will attend at this point, however, is in South Bend.
"I loved the visit when I went there (in October)," Pierschbacher said. "It's a beautiful campus. I felt like I was walking through Washington D.C. at times.
"Coach (Brian) Kelly has got them playing really good football right now. We've been in touch quite a bit lately. I think I'm going back in January to get a more in-depth look at things down there."
Iowa has played host to Pierschbacher more than any other school. The Hawkeyes finished up their season at 4-8 with a 13-7 loss against No. 14 Nebraska on Friday.
"Obviously, it's not pulling me closer to them by having a bad season, but it's not pushing me away that hard," Pierschbacher said. "I grew up in Iowa so I know what the program is like. They have two new coordinators, so things are going to be a little rough. They're pretty young at some spots, so it's understandable.
"But it's not attracting me. I'd like to see some progress throughout the year. Hopefully you'll be playing your best football by the end of the year but that wasn't the case. It kind of sucks, but it's fine."
Iowa State ended its regular season with 31-24 loss to West Virginia on Friday. The Cyclones already had clinched a bowl berth before the weekend.
"Iowa State, Coach (Paul) Rhoads is doing a great job," Pierschbacher said. "They're on their way up for a program. I'll give them a look. I have since I was a freshman. I know what's going on there."
Pierschbacher said he has a good feel for the in-state schools. He's hoping to familiarize himself with schools outside of Iowa before choosing a destination for college.
"If I think I'm pretty solid on a school, then I'll make a decision," he said. "But as of right now, I have no clue. It seems to be getting even more unclear as the recruiting process goes along.
"I've been thinking about it quite a bit lately. I still have some question marks on some things. I'm hoping to get more of a clearer picture here pretty soon."
Ross Pierschbacher has seen a lot of special football venues in person this fall. He added to that list on Saturday with a stop at Alabama for its game against Auburn. The Class of 2014 OL recapped the visit and also shared his thoughts on Iowa, Iowa State and Notre Dame in this update.