Central Iowa produces plenty of Division I football talent. West Des Moines Dowling Catholic and Valley High, Urbandale, Waukee, Ankeny and Ames are among the programs proficient at churning out prospects.
The Des Moines public schools lag behind the suburban schools when it comes to developing scholarship athletes on the gridiron, however, particularly at the Power Five level. Jordan Bernstine and Adam Robinson from Lincoln stand out for becoming Iowa Hawkeyes back in the 2000s.
Class of 2021 North High athlete Deavin Hilson is looking to join them. He's hearing consistently from the Hawkeyes and believes a scholarship offer is imminent. He would jump on it and burst with pride over what would mean for his community.
"Knowing that I have the opportunity to represent the whole city is special," he told HN. "I've been getting a lot of support and have a lot of people believing in me. It's not like Dowling or Valley, where they have eight or nine guys like me. It's important to show younger people around here who look up to me that it can be done."
The Des Moines schools played only two games this past fall before the season was canceled. The district opted for on-line only learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant no extra-curricular activities per an order from Governor Kim Reynolds.
Hilson was able to show enough in those two contests to attract the attention of the in-state schools. Northern Iowa offered a scholarship on Sept. 10. Iowa and Iowa State began communicating with him.
The Cyclones were pushing a preferred walk-on opportunity. The Hawkeyes told him he was in the mix with a half dozen other prospects for one of their few remaining scholarships.
Hilson has appreciated Iowa assistant Jay Niemann's honesty throughout the process.
"He kept it real from the beginning," Hilson said. "He told me there were a group of guys for one or two scholarships. He's continued to tell me I'm in the mix and said he would tell me if I ever fall out of the mix. He wasn't going to lead me on."
Hilson said Iowa asked for his academic records earlier this month. It continued sending him positive recruiting materials.
"Now we've come to the point where they wanted my grades to make sure I'm eligible. If the grades are good and the head coach (Kirk Ferentz) is good (with offering), the scholarship will be there. That's the recent conversation," he said.
"They haven't verbally said an offer is coming but they've been dropping hints with my coach saying asking for the grades was getting the ball rolling on it. I feel like it's going to happen in the next couple of days."
North coach Eric Addy and Hilson let Iowa know that he would accept a scholarship from the Hawkeyes but would not walk on.
"Being raised here, I always heard about Iowa when I was at the park. My mom always wanted me to go there. If I were to receive that scholarship, that's where I want to go," Hilson said.
If things don't work out with Iowa, he said Northern Iowa's scholarship would be an option.
"That's a great place, too," he said.
In two '20 contests, Hilson (6-1. 205) recorded 10 tackles (seven solo), including 1.5 stops for loss as a linebacker. He rushed 11 times for 100 yards and two scores, and returned two kicks for 22 yards. As a junior, he posted 10 tackles for loss and three sacks.
"Coach Niemann told me he wants me to play linebacker but the running back coach (Derrick Foster) wants me to play running back. I'm pretty sure they're looking at linebacker but anything can happen. I don't have a preference. I just want to play," he said.
Hilson plans on studying Accounting in college. He intends to bring energy in the classroom and on the field.
"I'm enthusiastic. I see myself as a leader. I'm the guy jumping around trying to get my teammates going," he said.
Here's a look at Hilson's highlights from a limited senior season: