By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – T.J. Bollers and Gabriel Rubio are no strangers to the Iowa football program and, at this point, the recruiting process in general.
Both 2021 defensive linemen have seen a significant rise in their recruiting stock in recent months and are doing their best to see as many schools as possible.
“We’re just trying to hit the offer schools,” Bollers said. “We’re going to see if we can hit any visits for Virginia Tech. There’s been some new interest also with Stanford and UCLA and we’ll see if we can try and hit them at some point also.
“But with how busy the other seasons are going to be with track and baseball and everything it might be kind of tough to get out to the west coast. Right now, I’m keeping it fairly local, I’m going to the junior day (Sunday) and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
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Rubio, a native of St. Peters, Mo., does not have the luxury of having Iowa in his backyard like Bollers, a native of Tiffin, Iowa.
However, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Rubio has made several visits to Iowa, including one on Sunday along with Bollers and nearly 50 other recruits.
Rubio said that Iowa will always stand out as one of the first schools to show interest in him.
“Iowa is a special place,” Rubio said. “It’s one of the first places I visited during my recruiting process. It was a great deal to be a part of, watching them practice and how high intensity it was. I feel like they have a special place for me.”
For the 6-foot-4, 227-pound Bollers, being in Iowa’s backyard also comes with added pressure of staying with his hometown school, particularly because his father, Trevor Bollers, played football at Iowa.
The pressure ends with friends and classmates, Bollers said, because he’s not facing any on the homefront.
“Every friend that I have, even people from different schools they’re like ‘Iowa, he needs to go to Iowa,” Bollers said. “I’d totally come watch you, you can get me tickets. I’ll see you and yell your name’ and stuff like that. They’re really pushing and want to see my go to Iowa. There’s Nebraska here and there too but really it’s all my decision.
“My parents haven’t pushed me to make a decision to go to Iowa. They’ve pushed me to make a decision that’s right for me and if it is Iowa, I guess I’ll see you guys there but if it’s not I’m just going to make the decision that’s right for me.”
Both Rubio and Bollers said that they’re not nearing any decisions as of yet.
Rubio currently has scholarship offers from Ball State, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State.
Bollers has offers from Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Virginia Tech and has also gotten interest from UCLA and Michigan.
“It makes the decision very hard because having all of these great options to choose from is almost overwhelming to see how many great programs and great coaches there are out there,” Rubio said.
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For Bollers, all of the recruiting attention being paid to him is confirmation that he’s doing something right.
“It's really great,” Bollers said. “It’s really eye opening. It just shows you that hard work really does pay off and just to never settle and just to keep going, keep pushing, keep getting better every day because in the long run it’s going to pay off and you’re going to be doing big things.”