’17 Valley QB Rocky Lombardi Takes Next Step with Hawkeyes
West Des Moines (IA) Valley High junior quarterback Rocky Lombardi had visited Iowa a number of times. He rated the facilities among the best in the nation and loved the game-day atmosphere.
When he returned last weekend for a Hawkeye junior day, it was time to get personal.
“At my position, I feel like it’s really important to get to know your coaching staff; the guys who you are going to work with,” the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder said. “It’s a little different if you’re a defensive end or something where if you can play, you can play. But at the quarterback position, you’ve got to be a leader. It’s a real mental position. So it was really important for me to get to know Coach (Greg) Davis better.”
Davis, Iowa’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Lombardi sat side-by-side Sunday for the entire men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I guess what I got out of it the most was for him to get to know me,” Lombardi said. “I’ve got to make a decision, also, about who I want to work with and what I like best in coaches but they’ve got to give me that opportunity first. So, I thought it was good for him to get to know me to maybe give me an opportunity to play for him.”
The Hawkeyes still are evaluating Lombardi. He had scholarship offers from Iowa State and Virginia in the fall but both school have changed coaching staff this off-season.
Lombardi was scheduled to visit Iowa State on Monday night. Head Coach Matt Campbell asked him to hold off because quarterbacks coach Jim Hofher was out recruiting. The Cyclones have a quarterback commitment in ’17 from Waterloo West’s Devon Moore.
“I will go on an Iowa State visit. I’ll probably go mid to late February and get a sense of where I’m at there,” Lombardi said. “I have not heard from Virginia’s new staff so I’m not sure about them.”
Miami of Ohio also has offered Lombardi, who Rivals ranked as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback nationally in the ’17. The 247 network pegged him at No. 16.
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“Recruiting is something that a lot of players get stressed out about. It’s almost impossible not to be stressed out but you’ve got to just kind of let it happen,” Lombardi said. “You have to keep working and not let it get to you. You’ve just got to embrace it and have fun.
“There’s not going to be another time like this in your life so I’m just enjoying it and trying to impress as many people as I can. It is a very unique process and fun to go through so whatever happens with me happens. I’ll be ready for anything.”
Lombardi certainly is ready for an Iowa offer.
“I hope I sit pretty high (on its list of prospective quarterbacks in ’17),” Lombardi said. “At the visit I went to, there was maybe eight kids. It was a very, very select group. I think six of them had offers. I was the only quarterback there.
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“I’m hoping that maybe I can get an offer from Iowa. That would be a huge honor.”
As a junior, Lombardi completed 144 of 251 passes for 2,258 yards and 25 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He averaged 15.5 yards per completion and posted a 161.8 quarterback rating.
“I think I would fit really well with (the Hawkeyes). I’m a pro-style quarterback. There aren’t that many colleges left that do that. They’re one of the ones that have stuck with it for a while and they’re a true pro-style offense,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi also sees himself blending in well with the Iowa culture.
“I hope people think of me as a hard worker, as a leader, as somebody who can turn a crowd in the right direction, as someone who can lead people to the right decisions and then make the right decisions myself. I want to lead by example,” he said.
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“There’s got to be work put in year round if you want to be the level you want to be for Iowa football program. I saw stat that had Iowa as the only team in the Top 10 without a five-star recruit. With the kind of recruits they are getting, they’ve got to be a hard-nosed football team that works hard. It’s all about that blue-collar mentality.”
If Lombardi were to end up at Iowa, he would face a logjam at his position. Tyler Wiegers, Drew Cook, Ryan Boyle and Nathan Stanley all will be underclassmen next fall with the latter three freshmen.
“Wherever I got there are going to be good quarterbacks. So, the depth chart doesn’t really concern me. I’m going to have to work my ass off to get a job at any top level program,” Lombardi said.
In addition to Iowa, Iowa State and Miami, Lombardi is building a bond with Minnesota and Nebraska. Relatives on his mother’s side have relationships with members of the Gopher coaching staff. One of his lineman, John Raridon, is a member of the Huskers’ ’16 Class.
“I visited (Minnesota) this fall. I really liked it. They seemed to be really interested. It’s a very cool place. They’re very high on my list and hopefully they have interest in me,” Lombardi said.
“Nebraska is coming into visit me either this Friday or next. I can’t remember which. I’ve got a good relationship with them.”