IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jordan Walsh knew Iowa was more rural than his suburban Chicago home. He wasn’t quite sure what that meant until he experienced local flavor at its finest.
Prior to his freshman year, he lived with classmate Austin Blythe at his family’s home in Williamsburg – population 3,130 – a town that sits 30 miles west of Iowa City. The Blythes took Walsh to the Iowa County Fair that summer.
"That was when I really knew I was in Iowa. I’m not in the (Chicago) suburbs anymore," the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Walsh said with a smile.
Walsh had attended fairs before. They were just different in the city.
"When I thought of a fair, I thought of carnival rides, games and food. I didn’t know it was going to be live showings of pigs and animals. Then there were some pony rides, which I cannot get on for a lot of reasons," he said.
Right Guard Walsh and Blythe, the center, have grown together on the interior of Iowa’s offensive line. The senior have combined to start 63 games for the Hawkeyes. They’ve been at the forefront of a rushing attack averaging 235 yards per game and 5.28 a carry for a 2-0 team this season.
Blythe grew up as an Iowa fan and was destined to be a Hawkeye. Walsh, a four-start recruit from Glenbard West High, chose the Big Ten school ahead of offers from, among others, Michigan State, Nebraska, Tennessee, UCLA, USC and Wisconsin.
"No. 1 was the coaches. I really liked all of the coaches on the staff. I liked the environment from game day to the people around in Iowa. You walk downtown and everybody is really nice," Walsh said of why he chose Iowa.
Walsh said the Gerdin Athletic Learning Center also played a big role in his decision.
"I felt like that was the best thing for me to succeed academically and it has paid off," said Walsh, whose Iowa Football bio says he’s interested in social work.
Walsh and Blythe share a close friendship but they’re different people. The former is soft-spoken. The latter loves to talk.
"What you see is what you get with Jordan," Blythe said. "You can’t really get a rise out of him too easily."
Walsh’s quiet demeanor off the gridiron does not carry onto it. He’s aggressive and been known to mix it up with defenders if they get on his bad side.
"He flips that switch on the game field, finishes guys and plays really physical," Blythe said.
Despite being a four-star prospect with high-level Power 5 Conference scholarship offers, like many players in the Hawkeyes’ developmental program, Walsh has experienced some turbulence in his college career. He’s steadily improved, making the rough spots few and far between these days.
"I think he’s the epitome of what an Iowa football players is," Blythe said. "You come in here and work hard for five years and you’re going to see good results. That’s what Jordan does. He comes to work every day and he works hard."