T.J. Bollers Connecting with Hawkeyes
T.J. Bollers grew up a Hawkeye. His parents met while attending Iowa, where his father played football.
Despite the connection, Trevor and Jennifer Bollers aren’t pushing their son towards their favorite team. They prefer he make his own choice. While they know the Hawkeye program, they want him to feel comfortable in it.
T.J. took another step in familiarizing himself with the school closest to home. The Tiffin (IA) Clear Creek Amana sophomore defensive end visited the school twice during the last few weeks. The latest stop came Sunday, when he attended junior day.
“It was a great time. I got to talk to coach (Reese) Morgan, who I just saw is retiring. That’s crazy. I got to sit down and talk to coach (Kirk) Ferentz for a little bit. What I really liked were the coaching sessions where we met in the D-Line room and they showed us clips and talked with us about the position,” he told HN.
While it’s called a junior day, recruits from other grades took part in it. Bollers saw some old friends.
“It was great getting back there. There were a bunch of sophomores there like Marcus Morgan (Iowa City West), and Ashton Cook and Nick Wagner (Iowa City Regina). I played with them when I was on the Barnstormers (AAU basketball) for a couple of years. It was really good being able to get back and connect with them. We’re all kind of in the same boat as recruits,” Bollers said.
Morgan, Iowa’s defensive line coach, announced his retirement this week after 19 seasons with the program. He had built a strong relationship with Bollers.
“I am sad to see him go. It was always great to see him and talk to him. He would show up at a practice, I’d wave to him real quick and then just get right back into the drill. He’s just a really great guy,” Bollers said.
Morgan’s assistant, Kelvin Bell, was named the interim defensive line coach for spring practice, which begins later this month. He’s also served as the recruiting coordinator for the last three years.
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“I do talk with coach Bell a little bit. Really, we haven’t sat down and had an actual conversation. The main guy that I’ve been in contact with was coach Morgan. And so with the new changes that are going to be coming up, I’ll probably end up being in more contact with coach Bell,” Bollers said.
How does Morgan’s retirement impact Bollers?
“Really, we’re just going to continue on with recruiting. We’re going to see how everything plays out. We have plenty of time to make a decision,” he said.
Bollers isn’t close to committing anywhere. And the spring and summer are difficult times to visit schools with his busy schedule in track and baseball. Also, his siblings are involved in activities that keep the family occupied.
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A trip to Virginia Tech is in the works after the Hokies recently offered a scholarship. UCLA is increasing its interest in Bollers, while Michigan State, Northwestern and Notre Dame remain steady in their pursuit despite not yet offering.
Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska have offered. He’s visited all of them.
“Right now, I’m kind of focused more on the academic side of things. I’ve been to Iowa multiple times. I’ve been to Iowa State multiple times. What I really want to see now is how things work academically. That was one of the things that (Iowa assistant) coach (Tim) Polasek said. He wanted to get me back there so I could see more of the academic side of things,” Bollers said.
Bollers, who plans on majoring in Engineering, did receive a better understanding during junior day of what the Hawkeyes teach their defensive linemen. He picked things up during the film study session.
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“What I was watching most was hip movement and get-off on the ball. They showed drills that they did for pass rush where they got their hips around and were making violent moves. They demonstrated some moves. They’ll be moves I’ll be putting into my arsenal for next season,” he said.
Bollers will test himself against some of the region’s best players this spring when he attends The Opening regional and Rivals camp, both in St. Louis.
HN attended one of Bollers’ games last fall and filed a scouting report. For the season, he registered 45.5 tackles (13 for loss) and four sacks. He also caught 18 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Here’s a look at Bollers’ sophomore highlights: