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Reece Vander Zee is chasing opportunities in Iowa

The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business is among the best in the country. This summer it welcomes a first-year student who can teach his fellow students a thing or two.

Reece Vander Zee leaves behind a successful operation in his hometown of Rock Rapids, Iowa. He runs Carroll Street Sweets with his family. Cookie ice cream sandwiches are the specialty.

“About eight years ago we just started selling them out of our house, and it’s really grown,” he said. “We probably have 15 to 20 stores and restaurants selling them. It’s almost to the point where we have to start hiring people to help us.”

Joe and Meredith Vander Zee, along with Reece’s five younger siblings, will run the show while he is in Iowa City. A plan must be drawn up for Saturdays in the fall.

The Vander Zees will be busy watching Reece play for the Hawkeye Football team. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound receiver could see the field this season with his talent and a need at his position. He immediately tries to play.

“Anyone who is a competitor has that mentality,” Reece said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s special teams or if I’m playing offense, it doesn’t really matter to me. I just want to get on the field.

“It won’t be easy. There may be problems along the way, which is to be expected at this high level. I think I have a good chance. I’m going to do everything I can.”

Vander Zee returns to wideout after playing quarterback for Central Lyon/George-Little Rock last season. He can lean on his junior year experience, when he caught 32 passes for 768 yards and 10 touchdowns for an undefeated state champion.

“I haven’t done much with receivers since then, but hopefully it will be like riding a bike. It won’t be that difficult. It might be a month or so before I get back into it,” he says. said.

An ankle injury ended Vander Zee’s senior track season with about a month remaining. He ran the 100 meters in 10.99 seconds and the 200 in 22.49.

“It sucks. I was just getting going. My times were dropping,” he said.

Fortunately, Vander Zee can enjoy one more season of competing with his high school peers. He’s playing baseball this summer after earning recognition from the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association in ’23.

The baseball postseason begins July 6 with the state championship games the last week of the month. The rest of his ’24 classmates will be in Iowa in early June.

“I’ll be a little later than everyone else, but I just decided I wanted to finish. Baseball is probably my first love. I probably went to college for baseball and then all that football stuff came along.” inside,” said Vander Zee.

The Hawkeyes faced plenty of competition to secure his commitment. He reported scholarship offers from Iowa State, Nebraska and others.

Vander Zee loved those programs. After his official visit to Iowa, he realized he didn’t like them as much as the Hawkeyes.

“I was on my way home and I thought, ‘Yes, this feels good.’ With all the guys I met, everything we went through on the journey, I just felt like the Lord was leading me to find the Hawkeyes. That’s absolutely true.” where I need to be,” he said.

The people of Rock Rapids will set their collective eyes on Iowa City with three of their own Black and Gold men. Zach Lutmer is a redshirt freshman, and Graham Eben is also arriving this summer. They’re defensive backs.

“I probably enjoy having Zach there the most. Graham and I can direct any questions we have to him and be as prepared as possible for a big transition. It’s a big advantage to have those guys around me” , Vander Zee said.

As tempting as it was to stick with who they knew, Vander Zee and Eben won’t be housemates this season. Vander Zee lives with Omaha tight end Michael Burt.

“We’re breaking up and finding someone new,” Vander Zee joked. “I mean, we’ll be together all the time. We just decided it was good to meet some new people and build new relationships.”

On3 ranked the ’24 Hawkeye Class No. 29 nationally and eighth in the new 18-team Big Ten. It’s a close-knit group.

“It’s a good atmosphere. We have a lot of top athletes who know how to get things done. I think we’ll continue the winning culture in Iowa and just be tough and physical,” Vander Zee said.

When he left for Iowa last summer, Brian Ferentz was the offensive coordinator and Kelton Copeland coached the receivers. Tim Lester and Jon Budmayr were hired for those jobs this offseason.

“I really liked coach Copeland. He was very down to earth and he was very good to us,” Vander Zee said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business, and I understood that.”

Lester and Budmayr met him in Iowa City this spring.

“Everything was very positive,” Vander Zee said. “They are installing the new offense quite seamlessly. I am excited to get started. It could be a small advantage for me that everyone is also learning a new system.”

From his conversations with Lester and Budmayr, Vander Zee expects to fill the same role he committed to.

“I would say it’s mostly the same. They see me as an outside receiver, an X and Z type guy. I’m more of a red zone guy trying to make big plays. So I don’t think it’s changed as much for me, as it might for some other guys,” he said.

Vander Zee grew up supporting the Hawkeyes. He has often imagined what it will be like to play for them.

“When I put on that uniform and walk out of that tunnel for the first time, it’s just going to hit me. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most, that crazy adrenaline rush. That’s going to be the best,” he said.