Posted by: marcmwm | June 13, 2009

Blackwell, Shane Prater updates

Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier built a relationship with the Iowa coaching staff while he was coach at North Iowa Area Community College. It appears that will continue at Western.

As the Reivers begin their first season of existence this fall, Strohmeier will have two former and maybe future Hawkeyes on his roster — David Blackwell and Shane Prater.

Blackwell, a QB/WR, signed with the Hawkeyes in 2008 out of Cardinal Gibbons High School (Pompano Beach, Fla.). The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder didn’t make the academic cut and ended up at Iowa Western, one of the first commitments Strohmeier received.

Strohmeier cautioned that it’s early in the school year and that the season hadn’t started, but he believes the door is open for Blackwell to return to Iowa City, where he’d be a junior in 2010. Blackwell signed with the Hawkeyes in February 2008. When he signed, he was rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered early in his senior season at Cardinal Gibbons, where Blackwell excelled as a receiver, catching 63 passes for 1,352 yards and 15 TDs.

“I know they’re (Iowa coaches) still interested in him and following him through,” Strohmeier said Friday. “He had a knee injury and then also, obviously, academics. There are some things they want to follow him through this year. He’s done well.

“He’s working extremely hard and is an unbelievable kid, from a standpoint that he signs a Division I and goes junior college. They can sometimes be, hey, I’m a little bit better than this. He’s been awesome.”

Going into Western’s first fall camp, Strohmeier has Blackwell at QB, but there are other options. Blackwell flashed some as QB in the Reivers’ spring game May 10. (I think he’s No. 5 in this video.)

“Right now, he’s playing quarterback for us,” Strohmeier said. “He only played a limited time in high school before he got injured. He was a good receiver, also. He could project as a linebacker, also. He’s physical. He’s 6-2, 6-3 and 205, 210 pounds. He’s a pretty physical kid.”

The most recent Hawkeye to leave because of academics was Shane Prater in late May. It was blogged here and it was reported in the Omaha World-Herald. Prater, whose twin brother Shaun is a CB at Iowa, cited “party life” at Iowa as his down fall. He also said he planned to open up his recruiting. JUCOs are certainly recruitable athletes. 

Strohmeier said he doesn’t believe it’s over for Shane Prater at Iowa.

“I think they’re (Iowa) not closing the door but it’s just not wide open, either,” Strohmeier said. “Shane’s got to come in and take care of academics and have a good year to showcase to them what type of student he is. They (Iowa coaches) know he’s a good player. He has to get the other stuff figured out.

“I think he wants to open it up a little bit, the recruiting, but you never know. A lot could change between now and then. Obviously, his brother being there.”

Prater’s best attribute is his speed, Strohmeier said. He plans to experiement on how to use the 6-1, 185-pounder, either at receiver or defensive back.

Prater was also a member of the 24-player 2008 recruiting class. Six (Blackwell, Prater, DeMarco Paine, Jason Semmes, Khalif Staten and Nate Guillory) have left Iowa.


I also talked to Strohmeier about what it’s like to set up a college football program, especially “in this day and age,” which we all know means “this economy.” Strohmeier expects to have 170 players on campus next fall.

I plan to use that after I make a call to Kirkwood and see if football can ever be a possibility there.



  1. BTW, a Reiver is a “river pirate.” Also, it was a pretty cool band from the ’80s.

  2. Economics of lower-level football:

    Many DIII schools have discovered the value of football, watching the example of Mount Union (OH). They regularly try out 150 guys. At $30-$40,000/student/year, this is a lot operating funding. It brings the underrepresented sex (men) to campus, when many campuses are 55-45 female, or higher. It brings the school tuition dollars as men pay to have the chance to wear pads for a few more years. These attributes are in addition to the soft benefits (campus cohesiveness, promotion) that people assign to a successful football team.

    I’m sure it’s different (economically) with a state-funded community college, in some ways, but I bet the president of Kirkwood wouldn’t mind a marginal 170 male enrollees. If Western can get 170, I see Kirkwood pulling from all across the 319/563 and doing even better, what with proximity to IC and the opportunity, even better, to get home delivery of the Gazette. I know I would go watch, especially if they hired some mad scientist/Mike Leach type. I also think they would find themselves with a bunch of ex-Hawks like Ronnie Harmon, Tim Dwight, et al happily working their way into the coaching business.

    Anyway, men just aren’t going to college in the numbers that they used to, but I guess that’s not a story — even in the football story death valley of June — for the sports section.

  3. Just as a guy with a 19 year-old son, you have to feel for the vulnerability of a Blackwell, talented, far from home, once-injured. You know when he was 17 and being told to sign up with this or that DI school, he wasn’t thinking, “If it doesn’t work out I can always head down I-80 until I get to Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is so much like my neighborhood in Pompano Beach, Florida I can’t believe it.” I hope he’s rewarded for the resilience and focus his coach describes.

  4. You stated Blackwell would be a junior……does that mean he would only have 2 years or was one of these seasons counted as a redshirt year?

  5. Bellanca — I don’t have all my notes in front of me, but coach Strohmeier mentioned location several times. IWCC is in Council Bluffs, which is close to Omaha and a decent airport for D-I coaches to fly in and scout talent. Also, it’s a great recruiting spot for IWCC. One thing I didn’t know, only 20 percent of Iowa juco rosters can come from out of state. That puts impetus on Iowa kids, which Kirkwood would be amazingly positioned for.

    Strohmeier said the initial start-up was $600,000. I’m sure there was some overrun, but that seemed reasonable. He mentioned that the administration sees a definite return on investment, building an espirit de corps on campus and bringing bodies/tuitions. He didn’t mention the male thing, but I’ll ask the prez that.

    Great thought on Blackwell’s situation. It had to sting to be told that he didn’t make grades at Iowa. Took real guts and toughness to slide five hours west and join a program THAT HADN’T PLAYED A DOWN . . . EVER.

    This is the kind of personality you want, regardless of whatever he does on the field.

  6. Jebus, at this point, I think he’d be a genuine juco and would have three to play two. Don’t know that for sure, but that’d be my guess.

    I’m in Muscatine for girls state soccer today. Don’t have the resources to look it up, just trying to think logically here.

  7. I think Kirkwood would immediately be the juco of choice, for Iowans, particularly if they had a coaching staff as I outline.

    Also, college now costs too much. Basically, it’s $300K-$350K per child, pre-tax, if they go to a private college like Grinnell.

    I would have directed my son to the local two-year, which would have guaranteed him admission to UVa, which he could not get into with a 3.6 GPA from one of the best high schools in the country — if it had been just about money.

    I understand but don’t know that the same pressure on admissions is ramping up at SUI.

    I think Kirkwood should look at this seriously. It could be really fun and useful for everybody.

  8. I honestly thought Demarco Paigne ended up here as well but obviously not. Where did he go and is there any status on him?


  9. Wow, Bellanca, I knew UVa was a good school but didn’t know that a 3.6 would be turned away. Is that “highly selective” or “massively selective”?

    We’ve stabbed at the Kirkwood/football but have never done it for whatever reason. I’ll look into it. I need to start the Gazette golf tour this week. I wish my game was up to it.

  10. Chad — Had that back in January. He’s at Iowa Central.

  11. ‘House nice report as always. I was particularly interested because Blackwell is from down here.

    By the way, Cardinal Gibbons is in Fort Lauderdale, not Pompano.

    Backtracking to catfish … you get to the Morocco in DBQ much. Excellent supper club atmosphere … Love the way they do the catfish there.

  12. You know, I think I’ve been to the Morocco once. My parents have been there countless times. I think they get the chicken. I ate with a photog from the PC. I told him I hadn’t been to too many catfish places and he was surprised because he knew I was from DBQ.

    I remember catfish on the menu, but never a catfish joint.

  13. marc –

    I’m not certain about that. The key phrase with regard to eligibility is 5 years to PLAY 4. The eligibility clock starts ticking once the kid hits college … be it community college or otherwise. Considering that he didn’t PLAY in his first year at Iowa Western, it makes more sense that he’d have 3 years to PLAY 3.

    I could certainly be wrong and I’m happy to be corrected, however, it’s plain asinine if it doesn’t work that way. If he doesn’t play a year but then it gets counted as a year of play … then that is just plain unfair. Besides, how would they handle it if a kid walked on at a community college in his second year? Would it be an automatic 2 year deduction because he was a JUCO or would the deduction just come when the kid is a member of the team?

  14. Homer, I think his first year in juco might count as a year, whether he played FB or not. That’s what I’m basing my guess on. Blackwell will be two years at IWCC, so he should come out as a D-I junior with three to play two because he hasn’t taken a redshirt. Maybe, though, that first year won’t count because he didn’t play (program didn’t exist).

    We’ll likely find out in December. If he’s in Council Bluffs and straightens out the academics, I would imagine Iowa coaches would welcome him back, however unproven his skills may be (with his injury, he’s been out of football two years). The more I learned about him, the more I liked his potential and the fact that he’s stayed interested (and in) Iowa. Impressive. Let’s hope this story plays out similar to Clinton Solomon (great kid with an even better mom, I should rerun that story here).

  15. Homer — I wish I had THE answer. I’m like you. I want to know every guy on the roster, every scholarship, and I want to know their situation.

    That’s always harder to know than it should be.

  16. I think Homer is correct. Blackwell has 3 to play 3.

    The rule is a player has 5 to play 4. Because Blackwell had knee injury (and football program wasn’t even going yet) so he sat out 1st year.

    This is similar to Tate in B-ball in sense he sat out his Freshman year at JC and when he transferred to Iowa he had 3 years of eligibility.

  17. The question is when his clock starts. I really don’t know.

  18. Marc, I have a different line of questions related somewhat to the now-juco guys–not Blackwell–but Shane and DeMarco, as well as a few guys in the on-campus doghouse (James F., Derby, Christiansen?).

    The new Life Skills Coach (Chic Ejiasi?): how has that been working in year one, and how is KF measuring the effectiveness of that person/position? I am ceratinly not laying blame at anyone’s feet, yet I have wondered how you approach the task of measuring the effectiveness or impact of such a position. Do two juco/academic casualties count as good, bad, or just about right? How about PAULA’s and other infractions outside the law? Just wondering on how the various parties are measuring the effectiveness of that newly created position.

  19. Marc,

    In January, you reported that Micah Hyde was selected to play for the Ohio team in the annual Big 33 all-star game against Pennsylvania on June 20th. Will you be able to update that for us next week?

    Thanks for all the great updates here. It really helps to get through this. I can;t wait for Big Ten Media Day. It’s like “the” true start of college football for me.

  20. Kent — That’s a great question. Short answer, yes, it’s better. I base this on no felonies. Yes, I know that’s shouldn’t even be a entry into this conversation, but the felony arrests were the “thing.” Now, PAULAs and juco transfers, I, as you pointed out, there is going to be a certain amount of “breakage” every year. Every program is going to have legals and academic casualties. The whole point of Chigozie Ejiasi’s position is assimilation. It’s designed to help freshmen find their footing, academically and socially. Does that mean he goes downtown patrolling for drunken Hawkeyes? It shouldn’t, but I’m guessing that’s a small part of it.

    As far as how KF measures success, I’m not sure he’d ever make that public. He still won’t name the player in the Michigan State play. I think, though, it’s better and can be better. A “B” if you will.

  21. Paul — Thanks for bringing that up. I’ll look for links and also for someone who has access out there.

    I’ve watched this game the last two years. It’s on Direct TV somewhere. I couldn’t tell you. I’ve found it by simply flipping through the channels and “Hey, FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTBALLLLLLL.”

    Big Ten media day kicks it off for me, too, literally.

  22. This blog has become my FIRST STOP for Hawkeye info. Am greatly impressed by the discussion happening here 🙂 Every question that comes to mind is answered by asked and/or answered by another poster.

  23. […] Blackwell, Shane Prater updates Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier built a relationship with the Iowa coaching staff while he was coach at North Iowa […] […]

  24. Brad — Thank you very much. It’s feedback like this that drives me to come up with content in the desert months of college football.

    I’m hoping to keep the blog alive. Focus shifts weekly at the Gazette. As long as I’m in the mix, I plan to feed this as much as I can.

    I’m very lucky to have some very smart folks who’ve decided to post here. I greatly appreciate that and hope I can keep up my end of the deal.

    Thanks again, Brad.

  25. Marc,

    Been a huge fan of your blog since the first time I read it.

    I wonder if you might speculate on where you have Blackwell projected, assuming he lands in Iowa City after IWCC.

    While following his recruiting I always envisioned him as an outside linebacker, but if he’s going to play QB for IWCC then I’m not sure how much weight he will be able to add.

    Wide receiver makes the most sense to me if he stays in the 205-215 range, but his potential at LB still excites me.

    Would love to hear your thoughts, and keep up the tremendous work. You’re a great asset to all Hawkeyes fans.

  26. JM,

    Thanks very much. That’s always nice to hear.

    I’m thinking WR. Ever since LSU’s Skyler Green in the Cap One Bowl, I’ve sensed that Iowa has looked for a tough, compact slot receiver who can get things done in traffic. (Sure, who doesn’t want one of those?) Blackwell could be that guy.

    At 6-2, 205, I think he’s a WR, but I also wouldn’t shut the door on QB. (Just think about what Brad Banks was before he was “BRAD BANKS.” He was a juco QB with D-I offers to play receiver.)

    My my best estimation, he’ll be a juco with three years to play two. I could be wrong on that. I’m not sure what last season at IWCC counts as. The school didn’t have a team. If he’s a freshman this year, then he’d have three to play three at Iowa. I would think it’d be tough to ask him to completely change stripes if he has only two years, so I think LB is a longshot.

    I wouldn’t shut the door on QB, though.

  27. […] twin brother, Shane, flamed out academically and transferred to Iowa Western and basically saying goodbye to […]

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