The NCAA instituted a recruiting dead period that began when the pandemic took hold last March. It's been extended to April 15, 2021.
Prospects across the country were relegated to learning about colleges and the football programs virtually. The lack of gaining intimate knowledge of what could be their future homes compromised the process.
Class of 2022 Kansas offensive lineman Nick Herzog decided to take matters into his own hands. The Stilwell Blue Valley High standout and his parents visited Iowa City this past weekend. The Hawkeyes offered him a scholarship in November.
"We toured around the whole city, including all the football facilities as well as Kinnick Stadium, the academic parts of campus and the downtown area," Herzog told HN. "I enjoyed the feel of the city. I’m excited to come back for an official (visit) and get to go into the facilities and the stadium, however, even from the outside they’re impressive.
"One thing that was really cool was the hospital and how close it actually is to the stadium."
While there was a downside in visiting during a dead period, such as not being able to get into buildings and talk with coaches, Herzog believed there was upside to the setup.
"I honestly enjoyed just getting to see the whole town. The nice thing about doing an unofficial visit is you get to go see everything without someone trying to sell it to you. I did have recommendations on where to go and what to see, which were great and very helpful, but I also just got to tour on my own with my family, which was nice," he said.
His parents, Tom and Mindy Herzog, took in the place where their son could potentially play his college football.
"They were impressed as well. They enjoyed the town and I think it surpassed their expectations of what Iowa would be," Nick said.
With the dead period running until at least April 15, the Herzogs chose to be proactive with the recruiting process.
"We decided to visit on our own because we aren’t sure when we’ll be able to do an official visit due to COVID. I want to be prepared to make a decision when the time comes. I’d like to have been on a campus and at least begin to see and feel what each school has to offer, not just from a football standpoint, but from an academic and lifestyle prospective as well," Nick said.
"We’re having to adjust during this abnormal recruiting time. I think you’ll see more 2022 recruits do the same. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was definitely worth the time as I was able to see what others have been saying about the campus and community."
Herzog reports scholarship offers from Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Princeton and Virginia. Offensive line coach Tim Polasek is leading the Hawkeyes' pursuit of him.
"I’ve been in contact with (Iowa's) coaches on a weekly basis. I thoroughly enjoy our conversations and look forward to them each week. I’m learning a lot about Iowa and what it means to be an Iowa football player, even if we’re having to do it through Zoom, FaceTime, calls and text," Herzog said.
"My relationship with coach Polasek is good and I’m excited to continue it. I also look forward to meeting him as well as the other coaches (Kirk Ferentz, Kelton Copeland, Tyler Barnes) that I talk to frequently when it’s allowed."
Rivals and 247Sports rank Herzog (6-4, 265) as a three-star recruit. The former sees him as 14th best offensive guard nationally in the '22 cycle. The latter views him as the No. 72 offensive tackle in the class.
Herzog benefits from an inside source when it comes to Iowa Football. His former teammate at Blue Valley, Mason Richman, is a true freshman offensive lineman with the Hawkeyes.
"He was back in Kansas while we visited, but Mason has been a great guy for me to ask questions. He's been very helpful throughout this process. We talk frequently about the (Iowa) coaches and what his experience has been with them. He can’t say enough good things about them," Herzog said.
Here's a look at Herzog's junior film: