UI rewarded for Leppert's persistence

Aug. 23, 2009

Sunday, Aug. 23, Practice Photo Gallery

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Head football coaches at the Division I level won’t last long without excellent recruiting skills. In some cases, proficiency in sales is also an advantage for the prospective student-athlete.

“I wrote a letter telling the Iowa coaching staff I wanted to come and I kept calling and eventually after spring ball they said they had a spot open for me to walk on the first day of classes,” said Hawkeye fullback Wade Leppert. “I had offers from Western Illinois and Southeast Missouri State, but I really wanted to play for the Hawks.”

Leppert is a redshirt sophomore from Wauconda, Ill. (Mundelein High School). Last season he caught five passes for 22 yards, including three receptions at Pittsburgh on Sept. 20. On the preseason two-deep chart, Leppert is listed as a back-up to junior Brett Morse.

“This is a true story, I think I mentioned it last year,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Wade Leppert literally was begging us to get on our team his senior year in high school. I still have the letter somewhere. I’m glad he was persistent because he’s a good football player.

Leppert has relatives in the Iowa communities of Knoxville, Ottumwa, Ollie, Richland and Des Moines. His parents attended Pekin High School.

“My whole family’s from Iowa,” Leppert said. “My parents are from southeast Iowa and the rest of my family still lives here. They all have season tickets and go to the games. I’ve always been a Hawkeye fan.”

Leppert said he’s glad he kept calling the coaches. In the early stages of the recruiting process, he remembers the Hawkeye staff would “talk to me, but not a lot.”

“I was a 210-pound senior (in high school),” he said. “I wasn’t real big.”

Now Leppert is listed at 6-foot, 245-pounds.

During the 2008 season, when Iowa finished 9-4 overall, the Hawkeye fullbacks rushed a total of three times for two yards. They caught 10 passes for 62 yards. In fact, Morse had more tackles (one) than rushing attempts. The primary objective for the UI fullbacks was to open holes for Doak Walker Award-winner Shonn Greene, who rumbled for 1,850 yards and 20 touchdowns.

“You have to know that as a fullback at Iowa, your job is to pave the way for the running back,” Leppert said. “He’s going to be the man and that’s perfectly fine with me. I know the other guys that play fullback — that’s fine with them. We’re just happy to have a job and to be playing.”

Leppert doesn’t foresee a drastic increase in touches this fall.

“I don’t think there’s any surprises,” he said. “We’re just going to play Iowa football.”

Classes begin at the University of Iowa tomorrow, Aug. 24. The Hawkeyes have 13 days before their season-opener against intrastate rival Northern Iowa on Sept. 5 inside Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is 11:05 a.m.

To view an exclusive 33-image photo gallery of Sunday’s practice inside the Kenyon Practice Facility, click HERE.

2009 Iowa Football Season Ticket Application (v3a)