Austin Blythe walked into his meeting with Kirk Ferentz Monday afternoon with his hands sweating and his heart beating rapidly. The day he had thought about for years had arrived.
“It was pretty unbelievable,” the Class of 2011 Offensive Lineman said. “I just got really nervous. But it was the sign that it was the right decision.”
Blythe told the Iowa coach that he was verbally committing to play football for him. He grew up rooting for the Hawkeyes from his home in Williamsburg.
“I think he was pretty excited,” the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Blythe said of Ferentz’s reaction to the news. “He stood up and shook my hand and congratulated me. While he was welcoming me aboard I was trying to tell him how excited I was.”
Blythe becomes the third known verbal commitment in the 2011 Class, joining wide receivers Marcus Grant and JaCorey Shepherd. Iowa coaches are prohibited from talking about these athletes until they sign a national letter of intent in February.
Scout.com rates Blythe as a three-star recruit on its five-star scale. He’s ranked as the 28th best guard in the country for his class.
Blythe held scholarship offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Stanford and Wisconsin. He also received a lot of interest from Notre Dame.
“I’ve known I wanted to be a Hawkeye for a while,” said Blythe, who also has won two state wrestling titles. “It was going to be hard for anybody to pull me away from the university. I always wanted to go play for Coach Ferentz and the Hawkeye staff. I still have my senior year left, but I’m really looking forward to playing at Iowa.”
As a junior, Blythe racked up 40 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, and nine sacks to earn first team All-State honors. He was also awarded first team All-State honors for his play on the offensive line. He reported that he can bench 330-pounds and squat 420.
“I kind of always wondered what this day would be like,” Blythe said. “It exceeded my expectations. I’m kind of on cloud nine.
“But I think the most important thing is that I’m happy with my decision and I know it’s the right one. I’m still moving forward, though. I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work to succeed at the next level.”
Even when he visited Notre Dame and other schools pursuing him, the University of Iowa branded his mind through the years.
“You always hear great things about the university and then you tour the academic facilities and see it,” Blythe said. “Then, Coach Ferentz is such a genuine person. He tells you the truth and there’s not any bull-crap or a bunch of smoke. You can tell he means it.
“He surrounds himself with great people on the staff and that’s why they’re so successful. I truly believe that Iowa is the best fit for me and it gives me the best chance at success. Who better to learn from Coach Ferentz and Coach (Reese) Morgan?”