Junior college or not, the offensive numbers for Iowa Western jump off the stat sheet.
Iowa Western, the No. 1 ranked junior college football team in the country, averages 67 points and 604.4 yards per game. And recently, two of its top weapons received scholarship offers from Penn State.
During the Nittany Lions’ bye week, quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher visited Council Bluff, Iowa to take a look at a few second-year players. Penn State has since extended offers to quarterback Jake Waters and running back Aaron Wimberly.
While Wimberly — who got the offer from the Nittany Lions earlier in the week — is verbally committed to Iowa State, Waters is still in the decision-making process.
Iowa Western head coach Scott Strohmeier said entering Monday, he thought Waters’ top three choices of schools were Penn State, Kansas State and N.C. State. However, Waters said all his offers are still possibilities and he also has been looked at by Akron and Florida Atlantic.
“I’m going to sit down with my mom and dad and coach, either this weekend or next weekend, and we’re going to weigh out the options. And get down a little bit to where I’m thinking about going,” Waters said. “So, I’ll have a better idea within the next week or two. I’m still doing homework on all the schools that have offered me right now.”
A 6-foot-2, 215-pound sophomore, Waters has been a two-year starter for Iowa Western, and he is under center for that high-powered offense. Personally, Waters averages 274.7 yards per game and has thrown 24 touchdowns to just three interceptions in seven games.
“I think what [Penn State] sees in him and a lot of schools are seeing with him right now is his leadership ability,” Strohmeier said. “How he runs our offense, his demeanor on the field, obviously coming highly recommended from myself and my staff, working with him. He’s a competitor. All the players respect him so much because they see how hard he works.”
Strohmeier said Waters got mostly Division II offers out of high school, which is why he landed at a junior college. In addition to the handful of Division I scholarship offers Waters already has, Strohmeier said the Council Bluff native is also getting a look from Alabama.
Penn State will be in need of quarterbacks after the season as the team will be down to two quarterbacks with remaining eligibility in Steven Bench and Garrett Venuto. The Lions do currently have one signal caller in their 2013 class in Christian Hackenberg, but Waters would certainly aid the team in depth at the position.
And though Waters has some offers from some other well-known football programs, he said the offer from the Penn State meant a lot.
“It was pretty cool to get an offer from a school like Penn State, with the tradition and coach O’Brien being the coach and his background,” Waters said. “Coach Fisher came to practice and I ran into him after practice a little bit and he said he liked what he saw and wanted to offer me a scholarship.”
Meanwhile, Wimberly, who is roommates and close friends with Waters, is what Strohmeier called an “explosive athlete.” And if the sophomore were to go back on his word to Iowa State, he could help the Lions with his versatility.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound tailback has run for 746 yards on 87 carries this season (8.6 yards per carry), and last week he scored a touchdown on an 89-yard kick return in Iowa Western’s 63-6 dismantling of South Dakota State College of Science.
Wimberly also has offers on the table from Boise St. and Troy in addition to Penn State. But he committed to Iowa State in August.
“I’ve talked to him a little bit, just when he got the offer [to Penn State],” Waters said. “But he is committed to Iowa State right now, so I don’t really know for sure what he’s thinking.”
Last week, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said his coaching staff is certainly going to look at all options when it came to recruiting, but he said he wants the right type of student-athlete to come Happy Valley.
Strohmeier said both Waters and Wimberly have GPAs of 3.5 or higher and are both on pace to graduate from Iowa Western in December.
“We’ll be interested in recruiting and looking at post-graduate guys at prep schools, or junior college guys,” O’Brien said. “Number one thing is they have to be good students and high character guys, that’s number one.”