Here’s looking at you, Hawks

AMES – If there is one game on Iowa State’s schedule that junior college transfer Rodney Coe has circled, it is definitely the Sept. 14 meeting against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium.

Coe committed to Iowa as a 220-pound running back out of high school. The four-star prospect had the attention of many Hawkeye fans but was forced to take a detour to Iowa Western Community College after failing to qualify academically.

That turned the recruiting process upside down, according to Coe.

Without any explanation, the Hawkeye coaching staff ended their relationship with the former Missouri high school standout. Couple that with some verbal jabs on Twitter from Hawkeye fans, and Coe had seen and heard enough from anyone associated with the Cyclones’ in-state rival.

“I only talked to Iowa one or two times once I got to Iowa Western,” Coe said. “They would come to our campus and talk to other players and just walk right by me. They didn’t say anything to me.”

Before the communication derailed, Iowa had thoughts of moving Coe from running back to the defensive line after he put on 40 pounds before his sophomore year at Iowa Western.

Coe weighed 260 pounds at that point but didn’t understand why he was changing positions. All he wanted was an explanation from the Hawkeyes. An explanation that never came, according to Coe.

Instead, Coe was told of the change by his coaches at Iowa Western.

“(The Iowa coaches) just moved me there instead of talking to me about it first,” Coe said. “That is when I decided to look into other programs.”

It was at that point that Coe began talking to Iowa State and the Cyclones eventually secured his commitment, locked up a National Letter of Intent and welcomed in a potential starter on the defensive line.

“The process sometimes has a funny way of working out,” said Rhoads. “This could be a win-win for Rodney. It filled a need for us and allows him to continue to work on his game. Rodney is the kind of guy that can play this game a long time. He realizes that, and he realizes what we can do for him to get there.”

Coe is in Iowa State camp this fall as a 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive tackle. He currently sits behind junior Brandon Jensen on the depth chart, but there is no question he will see plenty of snaps, especially when the Cyclones host Iowa in mid-September.

“I have thought about that game. I think it about it a lot,” said Coe, who helped the Reivers win the NJCAA national title in 2012. “I didn’t know what happened with Iowa. Not sure why they stopped talking to me.

“I knew that if I went to Iowa State I could play Iowa. After what I went through with the Iowa fans, I have been waiting to get on that field, waiting for gameday to prove them wrong and show them what they could have had. I want to show everyone what I am capable of.”

Coe had his share of internet altercations with several Hawkeye fans on Facebook and Twitter. Iowa fans didn’t take too kindly to Coe choosing to re-open the recruitment process.

The comments, though, had a negative effect on Coe. The backlash was another factor in changing from Iowa to Iowa State.

“Once I had to go JUCO, the (Iowa) fans became negative,” Coe said. “That really pushed me away. I didn’t want to play for fans that didn’t want me there. That was part of it for sure.”

Fans can be brutal. But the social network wars are not exclusive to Iowa City.

When asked if he was worried about Iowa State fans influencing recruits in a negative way, Rhoads admitted to dealing with a similar situation in Ames this past offseason.

“Worry is not the word I would choose because most of it is out of your control,” said Rhoads. “I addressed our fans about a kid from this class. They got a hold of some old film from a player (Nigel Tribune) we have in here now, and they brutalized him and it was hurtful to him and his family.

“I had to fight like heck to get him back. It was that kind of involvement, without the intent to hurt someone, that almost cost us.”

Coe is adjusting nicely to his new position. The biggest challenge could be conditioning. With Iowa Western involved in so many one-sided affairs the past two years, Coe was usually out of the game by halftime.

That just isn’t reality at the Division I level.

“My biggest thing is football shape,” said Coe, who will wear No. 9 at Iowa State. “We got taken out of the game in the second quarter at Iowa Western. I will need more physical toughness here. I obviously have to be ready to play a full game.”