Football took a backseat to baseball in Jake Duzey’s athletic world. That was until a coach pulled him aside during a freshman practice on the gridiron.
Duzey, who first played organized football in the seventh grade, heard something that opened his eyes to possibilities.
“He told me I had a chance to play Division I football,” Duzey said. “I always dreamed of playing sports in college but never thought I’d have a shot to do it. To hear that, that was pretty cool.”
Duzey worked on making his coach a prophet. On Wednesday night, the dream became a reality when the 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end/H-Back verbally committed to Iowa ahead of scholarship offers from Michigan State, Oregon, Purdue and Cincinnati, to name a few.
“The last visit there, a few weeks ago, I got to meet with players and sit down with the coaches,” the Athens (Troy, Mich.) High product said. “It just clicked. I really liked Coach (Chris) Doyle. He was probably my favorite assistant coach in my recruitment.
“Coach (Kirk) Ferentz was great. Coach (Phil) Parker (lead recruiter) and my position coach, Coach (Eric) Johnson, I just felt really comfortable around them.”
Speculation during the recruited process pointed to Duzey being a possible lean to the home state Spartans. So his commitment to Iowa surprised some of the scouts.
“I still have not gotten a hold of (the Michigan State coaches),” Duzey said. “I’ve left messages thanking them for everything. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I talk to them.”
Duzey made clear that any conversations with the Spartans staff would not sway him into re-opening his recruitment.
“I’m done,” he said. “I told my (Athens) coach (Josh Heppner) that it’s not that I don’t want to talk to (the Michigan State coaches) or other coaches that recruited me. I just want him to tell (college) coaches that I picked my school and that’s where I’m going.”
Duzey felt right with his Iowa decision and was relieved to have finished with recruiting.
“It was a good process, but it got a little hectic at some points, which I knew it would,” he said. “It’s nice to get it off my shoulders and pick a school.”
Duzey stopped playing baseball as a sophomore, but participated in basketball last winter. He planned to play hoops again as a senior.
Following his basketball season, Duzey reported a weight of 205 pounds. He’s since put on 20 pounds but it’s not slowed him down. He ran a 4.49-second, 40-yard dash at a recent scouting combine.
“I put on weight and got faster,” Duzey said. “I think I can put on at least another 20 pounds in college and not lose any speed.”
The Iowa coaches have told Duzey he likely won’t be used as a traditional tight end. The Athens staff planned to use him at wide receiver, tight end and H-Back this fall.
“I think (the Hawkeyes) are going to move me around, too,” Duzey said. “I’m sure I’m going to have to get down and block at some point, but I think I’ll be split out some, be in the slot some and even line up in the backfield.”
Duzey became the ninth known verbal commitment in Iowa’s 2011 Class. Eight of those pledges have come on offense, including three tight end types - Duzey, Ray Hamilton and Henry Krieger-Coble.
Scout.com's Allen Trieu posted his thoughts on Duzey, which also includes junior video.