Jordan van den Berg

Iowa Western DL Jordan van den Berg (left) with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. 

Jordan van den Berg grew up in South Africa playing rugby before moving to the United States when he was 10. That background led him to American football. 

"I'd say it was love at first try," he told HN. "I just love thriving through contact. Football is the only place where I can hit someone and not get into trouble." 

After flying under the recruiting radar coming out of Lilburn (GA) Providence Christian Academy, van den Berg began hitting people at Iowa Western in fall practice and into pandemic-impacted spring season. Iowa Football made contact in December and the interest picked up from there. 

Saturday, van den Berg visited campus and took part in an individual workout, where he shined. He then was brought into head coach Kirk Ferentz's office. 

"He sat me down and he let me try on all of his rings, and he offered me (a scholarship) there," van den Berg said. 

The Hawkeyes lost their starting defensive tackles after each of the last three seasons. That's led to an inexperienced group on the depth chart. 

van den Berg (6-3, 285) plans on enrolling in his four-year college for this upcoming season. He likely would compete for time in the rotation right away if he chose Iowa. 

"I feel like my speed and my size right now is good fit for them," he said. 

Nebraska offered him a scholarship on Friday when he camped in Lincoln. He set up a visit to Penn State for Tuesday. The Nittany Lions have not yet offered. 

"That will sum up my visits. I'm probably going to make my commitment this Wednesday coming up," van den Berg said.

"It will come down to the relationships that I've built and also how I feel my talents can work in a system and how I can impact a team and how it can help me as a person, a student and an athlete." 

Defensive line coach Kelvin Bell has been leading Iowa's pursuit of van den Berg. 

"I'd say we're talking on the weekly and it's been a pretty good relationship. I've got a lot of trust in him, and I feel like we share the same ideas. We have a very similar mindset," van den Berg said. 

van den Berg has four years of eligibility to play during five years at the FBS level. Academics will play a key role in his decision. He plans on studying Sports Communications with designs on someday becoming a defensive coordinator. 

Four players born in South Africa have reached the NFL. Kicker Gary Anderson and receiver Jerome Pathon are the only ones to last more than a year in the league. 

While he identifies as an American and South African, van den Berg is dreaming he can add to the small NFL fraternity from his home country. 

"I want to be one of the only players born in South Africa to play in the NFL, but I also would feel like I'm representing America as well because I grew up here. Both have an important role in my life," van den Berg said. 

In five games for Iowa Western this spring, van den Berg totaled 20 tackles (13 solo) and a sack. 

Here's a look at his season highlights: