The Next Cyclones
Football players wind up at places like Iowa Western only after their childhood dreams have been pancake-blocked and left writhing on the turf.
“We realize we are Option B for every single kid we talk to,” Mike Strohmeier concedes. “If they have higher aspirations, they have to sort of buy into our system. If you want to play at that level, you have to do what is asked of you in the classroom and on the football field.“But no one’s going to pick us over Iowa or Iowa State or UNI.”
Two future Cyclones are perfect examples of this point.
Rodney Coe was one of the jewels of Iowa’s recruiting class two years ago, when he was a 230-pound running back out of Edwardsville, Ill., who ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash.
But in the third quarter of his senior year, he found out he didn’t have the grades to go directly to Iowa City, so he sulked — and ate. It was the Iowa coaching staff that steered him to Iowa Western, but the thought of having to play junior-college football left him depressed, Coe acknowledged.
“I was like, ‘Why keep trying?’ I guess you could say that’s when I really got down about it,” Coe said. “And then once I got here, I was just eating. I was in one of those didn’t-care stages, and I let myself go, didn’t worry about it too much until halfway through the season.”
Coe still played running back his first season in Council Bluffs, but saw his weight balloon to 287 pounds.
It was then that the Reivers decided to try him at defensive end, where he is playing this year. Somewhere along the line, he and the Hawkeyes parted ways. Now, he’s “99.9 percent certain” that he is heading to Ames.
“I’m disappointed kind of just because I didn’t take care of what I needed to to get to Iowa,” Coe said.
“I just feel like (Iowa State) is where I should be now.”
The unusual position switch, from offensive backfield to defensive line, also fulfills a prediction from Coe’s grandfather, Charlie, a longtime coach in the college and pro ranks.“He was always telling me, ‘One day you’re going to put your hand in the dirt; one day you’re going to put your hand in the dirt,’ ” said Coe, who still runs a 4.77 40, the fastest among Iowa Western’s linemen. “I was like, ‘No, no, no.’ And here I am, putting my hand in the dirt.
“He called me. He was like, ‘So I hear you’re playing defensive end now. What did I tell you?’ I was like, ‘All right, you were right.’ I couldn’t really argue with him there.
“I enjoy it, though. It gets kind of tiring from having to fight bigger guys. I guess you could say I’m not used to it. But just in the game play of it, I do love being down in the trenches.”
In contrast, Wimberly is a scatback who stands a scant 5-11 and weighs 180 pounds. He is staying put in the backfield, where his 4.4 speed and ability to catch passes is a huge asset in Iowa Western’s no-huddle offense.
The Georgia native also was forced into the juco route by poor academics. His high school coach in Snellville recommended the school in faraway Council Bluffs as a landing spot.
“I had to do a little research,” Wimberly said. “I found it was a good program, had a good season before I came and was a new program on the rise.
“I wanted to be a part of a program that had a winning attitude and wanted to compete.”
Wimberly said it took him a couple of weeks to get over the disappointment of not being able to go directly to a Division I school. Then he started playing, and he realized the competition was intense and the talent was abundant.
He has a 3.6 grade point average now and plans to graduate in December, when he will head to Ames. On a recent Monday, Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads even made the trek west to check in on his future tailback, to make sure his transcript was in order.
Wimberly appreciated the gesture.
“I feel like that’s home for me,” Wimberly said. “I feel like it’s an offense that I can go right into. Academically, they’re really good, and that’s something I need.” ...