Iowa Western had 14 players sign Wednesday, sending 13 to Division I and one to Division II.
Of the 13 signing with Division I programs, two defensive linemen are headed to the Big 12. Perrion Winfrey signed with Oklahoma and Devin Drew will play at Texas Tech. Kicker Chase Contreraz is heading to the Big Ten, walking on at Nebraska.
“It was another really good class,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier said. “I’m proud of our guys, some of them bet on themselves to come here and try to get this opportunity. Today was their day to really celebrate their hard work in the classroom and on the field.”
Council Bluffs native and St. Albert graduate Tyler Blaha, signed to play football at Division II Missouri Southern State. The 6-foot-2 Blaha recorded 17 catches this past season and three touchdowns.
“I’m proud of Tyler, he’s a great kid, he does everything he’s supposed to do,” Strohmeier said. “He had a really good season, but he was limited with injury. Coming out of fall camp, I was really excited because at times I thought he was our top guy.
“You could tell when we didn’t have him; we kind of struggled at times. He’s earned this opportunity. He’s got himself a really good situation at Missouri Southern, in a really good Division II conference. Smart wide receiver, knows every position, so he’s very versatile and he’s got really good ball skills.”
Contreraz, from Missouri Valley, Iowa, scored 89 points this season, making 15 of 18 field goals and 44 of 46 PATs.
“Chase is another really good story, he’s earned everything he’s got right now,” Strohmeier said. “I know he’s ecstatic for the opportunity, that’s his dream school. What I told them (NU coaches), I don’t know what you have, I don’t know what you got coming in. But I know for a fact that he’s going to work and he’s going to compete. All he’s looking for is an opportunity, and they’re giving him that. He’s kicking with a lot of confidence right now.”
Zion Williams, a defensive back from Omaha North, spent a year and a half at Wayne State before transferring to Iowa Western. The redshirt freshman Williams recorded one interception and 31 tackles this past season. Williams signed to play at Troy University.
“He matured a ton in a season here,” Strohmeier said. “Again, he bet on himself to see if he can play higher. It’s a story of what we want, we want guys who are competitive and want to prove people wrong.”
“To leave a Division II school to come to junior college, and then end up living out your dream of a Division I football player, that’s pretty awesome. Troy University doesn’t come to Omaha to recruit, but they will to junior college kids.”
Drew and Winfrey are the gems of the class, one highly recruited out of high school, while the other didn’t receive much attention. Drew gained 40-pounds at IWCC, transforming himself into a dominant defensive lineman, tallying 9.5 sacks this past season. Drew signed to play at Texas Tech.
“Devin is unbelievable,” Strohmeier said. “Devin walked on here after playing linebacker in high school. Some guys have all the accolades coming out of high school and recruiting attention, Devin didn’t. Devin came here and proved himself, and now he’s playing power 5 football, it’s a great story.”
Winfrey, signed with Oklahoma, recorded 5.5 sacks this past season while only playing in seven games.
“Perrion obviously is one of the top players in the country,” Strohmeier said. “He’s just a big, strong, athletic defensive lineman. To go to Oklahoma, which is one of the top teams in the country, I’m proud of him for accomplishing that.”
Three other Iowa natives signed to play football next year. Paine Delarm (OL) from Cascade signed with Grand View, Tyus Phillips (OL) from Waterloo signed with PVAM and Keenan Stewart (DL) from Cedar Rapids, IA signed with UTEP.
Devin Drew, So., DL—Texas Tech
Perrion Winfrey, So., DL—Oklahoma
Dominic Quewon, R. So., DL—Southern Mississippi
Keenan Stewart, R. Fr., DL—UTEP
Marcus Haskins, R. So., DB—Liberty
Zion Williams, R. Fr., DB—Troy
Lyndarious Strange, R. So., DB—Charlotte
Andrew Beymer, R. So., OL—SFA
Tyus Phillips, R. So., OL—PVAM
Chase Contreraz, R. Fr., K—Nebraska
Marcus Rogers, R. Fr., WR—Troy
Tyler Blaha, So., WR—Missouri Southern St.
Paine Delarm, So., OL—Grand View