Iowa City is more than 900 miles away from Baltimore, but to Gilman linebacker Jim Poggi, the two cities seemed worlds apart.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder took an unofficial visit to Iowa last week. While the differences between Hawkeye country and Charm City were quite pronounced, Poggi was sold on Midwest living.
"It was all definitely foreign, but it was actually kind of cool," Poggi said. "I'm not used to people just saying 'hi' to me. They have no idea who I am, just passing on the street and saying 'hi.' Everyone was great out there."
Poggi, who recorded 130 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions as a junior, committed to Iowa earlier this week. He was also recruited by Ohio State, Texas, Nebraska, Tennessee, South Carolina and "a lot of the ACC schools."
Biff Poggi, Jim's father and Gilman's head football coach, has a relationship with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz dating back to the late 1990s. While Ferentz was an assistant with the Ravens, Poggi coached his son Brian during his freshman and sophomore years at Gilman.
Ferentz got the Hawkeyes job in 1999, and the family left Baltimore for Iowa City. Brian Ferentz finished high school in Iowa City and had a standout college career playing for his father. Poggi said he has fond memories of Brian Ferentz from his Gilman days.
"He was kind of just another one of the guys at the time," Poggi said. "I was just a little guy running around kicking the older guys ... But one thing I do remember is he and his group of friends would always pick me up and take me around."
Poggi said the family connection helped make his decision easier. But the school itself had plenty to offer as well, as did the Big Ten's reputation.
"If you think about all the great linebackers in the past few years [from the Big Ten], they're all just really tough dudes," Poggi said. "They're not really flashy, but they're really tough and they love playing football. That's kind of something I wanted to be a part of."
Ferentz didn't sugarcoat anything for Poggi. There were no promises of early playing time or anything of that nature. You'll have to come in and battle, Ferentz told Poggi.
"They said they're really top-heavy at linebacker," Poggi said. "I don't know if they're going to redshirt me or not. I'm just honored that they think I'm good enough to play there, which is pretty cool. But they told me when I get there everyone's going to be yelling and screaming, but I'm going to work really hard. If I work hard, I'm going to earn my spot."
Poggi said it's a relief to be done with recruiting so early in the process. He's entirely focused on his senior year, noting that he's the only Poggi who hasn't won a championship. Poggi plans on rectifying that in the fall while giving Iowa fans a preview of things to come.
"I'm not flashy, I'm not the fastest and I'm not the strongest," Poggi said. "But I work hard and I'm really happy to be a Hawkeye. There's nowhere else I'd rather be."