By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team will be playing football this fall, but several of its future players will not.
After months of deliberation, the Big Ten announced Wednesday that it will begin its fall football season Oct. 23-24.
But 2021 Iowa commits Gennings Dunker, David Davidkov, Jeremiah Pittman and Justice Sullivan are still left to wonder when they will play again.
Dunker, a three-star offensive lineman from Lena, Ill., said once word came that Illinois was not playing high school football this fall, he chose to take a positive approach.
“My initial reaction at first was disbelief. But then I realized I needed to make the most of the situation and how this just gives me and my team more time to prepare and get stronger and faster,” Dunker said.
Pittman, on the other hand, said he had been expecting the news since June.
Right now, Illinois’ plan is to have a six or seven game season starting in the spring that will include a shortened state playoff.
And while some players have decided to transfer to states that were going forward with their seasons, Pittman said he never intended to do so.
“I remember getting out of school that Friday, March 15, and I’m like, ‘There’s no way this affects our football season’. And as it came closer and closer, I couldn’t believe it had been this long. Obviously, it stinks, but I’m just glad we’re going to have a season.”
Sullivan’s home state of Minnesota has a similar plan to Illinois, but that could soon change.
According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the Minnesota State High School League could vote as early as next week to move football and volleyball back to this fall.
Davidkov’s coach at New Trier High School, Brian Doll, said he has been contacted by coaches and others that are trying to convince the powers that be to bring back fall football.
Doll said that he would like to see a season happen this fall, but is weary of what may happen if they begin too early.
“I think my fear of that is starting right away and then getting stopped and having a two week season or a one week season and shutting it down,” Doll said. “I would love to see something happen in the fall, I think it would be outstanding, but realistically, I think the main thing for us is I’d like to see a season.
“So, if that happens in February, great, the kids get something. If they get nothing it’s a lose for everybody.”
Davidkov, a four-star offensive lineman, originally planned to graduate high school early and enroll at Iowa in January, but Doll said Davidkov’s plans are now unclear since the Big Ten’s announcement Wednesday.
Pittman, a three-star defensive lineman from Arlington Heights, Ill., said his plan all along has been to graduate next spring, but the adjustment to playing after such a long time off will be difficult.
“When it comes to my senior season, it’ll be a little different because I’ve been away from the game for so long,” Pittman said. “But when it comes to transitioning to college, I wouldn’t say it gives me an edge over other guys, because they’ll be able to train all throughout that.
“But, for me, I’ll get a season and have my football season at the end of my senior year. And then I’ll have six weeks to train going into summer camp for Iowa. It’s not hindering my development at all in the long run, but it might be a little bit harder to get back into the gist of things come March because I won’t be used to exerting myself for that long.”
The impact of postponed seasons on recruiting remains to be seen, but according to Doll, players still trying to get scholarship offers have had to get creative with their approach.
“We’re in new territory because I don’t think the college coaches know how to handle it either,” Doll said. “If you’re a high-end school and a high-end recruit like David, the recruiting process is already over. At this point in time it’s just maintenance, keeping relationships and building those.
“For the other guys, it becomes tricky. It becomes what is the new path I can create. How do I get film, how do I get colleges to notice me. So, what I’ve seen is kids turn more toward performance type businesses and get different types of film that previous years we never would have seen.”