State: Howells vs. Sargent 5

Howells junior defensive lineman Jarrod Bazata (72) committed to the Iowa Hawkeye football program this Sunday after taking four trips to Iowa City. (LJS file photo)

BRYNN ANDERSON/Lincoln Journal Star

Nathan Bazata felt right at home in Iowa City.

That prompted the Howells junior to tell University of Iowa football coaches that he will accept a scholarship from the Hawkeyes.

Bazata, a two-time all-state defensive lineman for the Bobcats, gave Iowa assistant coach Reese Morgan the news Sunday after his fourth trip to the Iowa City campus.

"The people are just awesome. I felt at home when I went there because it reminded me of Howells, only bigger," said Bazata.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder recorded 101 tackles last year, nine of them sacks, and 27 for losses, and was described as the "best D-lineman ever in Howells" by coach Mike Speirs. He is a two-time Journal Star Class D-2 all-state lineman.

"I guess I didn't realize he had said that. It sure makes me feel better," said Bazata, who also had an offer from South Dakota State. He was getting interest from Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State and Michigan.

Bazata has a 105-11 record in three years of wrestling, finishing second in the 285-pound division in Class D the last two years after a fourth-place finish at 215 as a freshman.

He said Iowa, which began recruiting him this time last year, wants him as a lineman.

"I don't know what side for sure. I know Coach Morgan talked about playing for him in the defensive line," Bazata said. "I guess Coach (Kirk) Ferentz would like to see me at center. I'm sure I'll try that this fall, but I've never played center in high school."

Morgan and Ferentz impressed Bazata.

"Coach Kirk Ferentz and Reese Morgan are down-to-earth kind of guys, like me and my family," he said. "I just had that feeling in my gut that committing to Iowa was the right thing to do."

He will join at least two Nebraskans on the Iowa team. Cole Fisher of Millard North is a redshirt freshman and Drew Ott of Giltner just signed with the Hawkeyes.

Bazata said he was particularly glad to have this decision made before his senior year, when Howells will merge with Dodge.

"It seems like all the pressure has been lifted off. Now I can just concentrate on our team. We hope that by going in with Dodge, we can go far in the playoffs," he said.

Bazata played on two state championship teams and was on the Bobcats' runner-up team last fall.

Reach Ryly Jane Hambleton at 402-473-7314 or


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