When an opportunity to play football at Iowa arrived, Alec Wick jumped on it. He grew up in the shadows of Kinnick Stadium. One of his mentors played the same position for the Hawkeyes.
It was an easy decision.
The Iowa City Regina receiver accepted a preferred walk-on offer in early December, shortly after playing a major role in leading the Regals to the Class A state championship. A standout soccer player, Wick considered playing that sport in college along with chances to join smaller football programs.
"Going into my senior year, I was unsure on what sport I wanted to play," he told HN. "But then when football season came around, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was interested in a couple NAIA schools and a couple Division II schools, but when Iowa offered me the PWO (preferred walk-on), I knew that was a great opportunity.
"I grew up watching Iowa and going to games. So I was extremely blessed to be able to be part of the program."
Wick did it all at Regina. He played defense, and handled the punting, kickoff and place-kicking duties. However, it was in catching passes that he shined among the best to ever do it in the state.
He broke former Iowa City West and current Nebraska wideout Oliver Martin's 11-player career receptions record in the state by three with 242. He accomplished it during the state championship game, where he hauled in nine balls for a state-record 226 yards. He wrapped up his senior season with 75 catches for 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Despite his heroics for the Regals, Wick (6-1, 180) lacked the prototypical measurements that garner Division I scholarship offers. He also played small-school ball, which comes with a stigma.
Those stereotypes don't tell Wick's story, however. He's fluid, catches just about everything thrown his way, runs excellent routes and produces. Iowa has a way of developing guys like him.
"The recruiting coordinator, Tyler Barnes, got ahold of me and we talked over the phone for awhile, just getting to know me and stuff like that. There really wasn’t a pitch he gave me. I didn’t really need one, to be honest. I knew that they were giving me an opportunity and I couldn’t pass it up," Wick said.
He learned the game from former Hawkeyes on the Regina coaching staff. Head coach Marv Cook and defensive coordinator Jason Dumont influenced him. Offensive coordinator Ed Hinkel may have molded him the most, though.
Hinkel played at Iowa from 2001-2005, catching 135 passes for 1,588 yards and 16 touchdowns. His four scoring grabs against Minnesota in his final game at Kinnick set a record at the storied stadium.
"Coach Hinkel obviously impacted my life very much. As a man, on and off the field, he's taught me a lot, and I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done," Wick said.
"As a freshman I remember thinking that it was pretty cool to have a lot of former Iowa guys coaching the team, especially my position coach. But I never really understood his greatness until I started watching some of his highlights, and then it really hit me. He was kind of a beast. Him loving Iowa helped a lot in my final decision, but I also made my own decision in the end."
Wick isn't entering Iowa with any specific goals. He's focused on exerting maximum effort and competing.
"Everyday I get the opportunity to go out on the field, into the weight room, and even in school, I just need to work hard and give it everything I've got. Not very many kids get to grow up and get an opportunity to play for their hometown college. I can control my attitude and effort and that’s what I plan on doing every single day I get the chance to," he said.
Wick is considering majoring in Marketing or Business Management.
Here's a look at his regular-season senior highlights: