Omar Truitt just finished his junior year of high school in Washington, D.C., and hasn’t even visited the University of Iowa campus yet.
But he’s still convinced that he wants to play football at Iowa, enough so that Truitt committed to the Hawkeyes on Monday.
His decision was based on a number of things, most notably the influence of his father, former NFL receiver Olanda Truitt.
“My dad brought it up last year, actually,” Truitt said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “He was just telling me about the schools that would be a good fit for me and Iowa was one of those schools.
“And when Iowa offered me, my dad was like, ‘You know, we did talk about this last year.’”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Truitt is expected to play cornerback for Iowa and he picked the Hawkeyes over scholarship offers from Maryland, Syracuse and Richmond. Truitt said he picked Iowa despite thinking that other scholarship offers might be coming soon.
He is ranked as a three-star recruit by Scout.com and Rivals.com.
“Honestly, I felt the recruiting process was picking up for me,” said Truitt, who attends St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. “I think was about to get a lot of offers from a lot of big-time schools, but what’s the point of waiting if I already know what school is going to be the best fit for me?
“There is no point of playing myself when I already know where I want to go. I just wanted to get the process all over with so I could focus on my team and focus on myself to become even better.”
Truitt’s father, who played for six seasons in the NFL from 1993 to 1998 for Oakland, Washington and Minnesota, said Tuesday that he has longed admired Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and the job he’s done with the Hawkeyes, which includes achieving bowl-eligible status in 12 of the last 13 seasons.
“I’m very familiar with the work that coach Ferentz has done and with what he’s accomplished,” said the older Truitt, who began his college career at the University of Pittsburgh before transferring to Mississippi State where he played for former Pittsburgh coach Jackie Sherrill. Ferentz was a graduate assistant for Sherrill at Pitt.
“I’m a football purest. And just because it’s Iowa, and that I’m more aware of the going-ons in the Southeastern Conference, I still recognize an excellent football program and an excellent football coach.”
Olanda Truitt said he would rank Ferentz as the second best college coach in the country behind only Nick Saban of Alabama. He isn’t concerned about Iowa’s recent struggles, which include finishing 4-8 last season, because he thinks Ferentz will right the ship.
“What coach Ferentz does with what he has is remarkable,” Olanda Truitt said. “And I just envisioned having my son being coached and mentored by a fundamentally sound football mind. The fact that he’ll be mentored by coach Ferentz is something he’ll have for the rest of his life. It’s something he can hang his hat on.”
Committment to Iowa
Omar Truitt picked Iowa over Maryland despite twice having visited the Maryland campus and despite having never visited Iowa City. Truitt has scheduled a visit to Iowa City for later this month and will be accompanied by his mother and father.
“I did take back-to-back visits there and the coaches had heavy interest in me,” Truitt said of Maryland, which will join the Big Ten in 2014, along with Rutgers. “But Iowa was the best fit for me.”
And though Omar Truitt said his commitment to Iowa is firm, he still plans to attend camps this summer at Ohio State, Tennessee, North Carolina State and Georgia.
“This commitment is solid,” the younger Truitt said. “I’m going to camps, but that’s only for extra reps and going against competition. That’s the only reason I’m going to camps. My dad has already paid for them. But this commitment is solid. I’ve told the coaches that.”
Omar Truitt said the Iowa coaches are aware of his plans for this summer and have expressed their concerns.
“They care,” Omar Truitt said. “They asked my (high school) coach when I committed, ‘Is he solid?’<TH>” And my coach asked me the same question, honestly, and I said, ‘Yes, this is very solid.’<TH>”
Truitt’s primary recruiter was Iowa running backs coach Chris White, who joined the staff before the start of spring practice.
Olanda Truitt said he also spoke with White shortly after his son committed just to reassure him that the decision was final.
“He’s just going to face the competition; he wants to get better,” Olanda Truitt said. “But his recruitment is over.”
Omar Truitt is the first player from out of state in the 2014 class to commit to Iowa and the fourth overall. He joins Dubuque Senior offensive lineman Lucas LeGrand, who committed in early April; Cedar Falls offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, who committed Jan. 12; and dual-threat quarterback/receiver Jay Scheel, who committed barely a week after Pierschbacher did in January. Scheel attends Union High School in LaPorte City.
Veteran recruiting analyst Tom Lemming was impressed with Omar Truitt enough to include him in his annual recruiting publication for this past year despite Truitt only being a junior. Lemming has been to Truitt’s high school and interviewed Truitt in person, in addition to evaluating him on tape.
“He’s an athlete, a speed-type guy,” Lemming said. “And he’s played all over. He’s real versatile. He can do it all. He’s an explosive player.”
In addition to his father’s influence, Truitt also admires how devoted the Iowa fans are to the football program.
“They eat, drink and sleep Iowa football,” Truitt said. “There are no pro teams there, so that’s the only real entertainment that they have there.
“And it’s football. They have a great tradition with their football program. So I know it’s going to be crazy. It’s a great, football college town.”
Truitt also thinks Iowa’s 4-8 record from last season was just a temporary setback. The coaches have tried to reassure him that things are moving in the right direction and they’ve also discussed with him specific recruiting needs for his class.
“They’re ready to go,” Truitt said of the Iowa coaches and players. “They’re not worried. They had a minor setback last year.
“When I was doing my research, I saw things that they were talking about that were going on last year. We need to get defensive ends for this class. It’s going to be good.”