By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – In recruiting circles Alex Kleinow is somebody.
The West High senior is a three-star recruit that is ranked as one of the top 100 offensive tackles in the country.
In the college football world, Kleinow says, he’s a nobody.
“You have to start again,” Kleinow said of his transition to college. “I have proved myself at this level now I have to prove myself at that level.”
It’s that mindset that helped Kleinow settle on his college future.
On a trip to Iowa State last summer Kleinow sat down with Cyclone offensive coordinator and line coach Tom Manning.
Manning began to bond with Kleinow while out his coaching background. By the time the meeting was over Kleinow knew he had found a home.
“He took me into his office and was talking about how he has gotten people to the NFL from Toledo and how he had success coaching almost nobodies into NFL talent,” Kleinow said of Manning. “I just knew that was the place for me.”
Manning was the reason Kleinow gave a verbal commitment to the Cyclones last June.
Kleinow followed through on that commitment on Wednesday by signing a letter of intent at a ceremony at West High.
“He was a huge part of my decision,” Kleinow said of Manning. “That’s actually the reason I committed when I did.”
When Matt Campbell was hired as the head coach at Iowa State in November of 2015 he brought his college teammate Manning with him from Toledo to run the offense.
Manning identified Kleinow as a prospect early and invited the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder to the Cyclones Big Man camp.
It was there that Manning made his impression on Kleinow.
“I think it’s just his communication,” Kleinow said. “He bonds with the guys so well and he knows what he’s talking about.”
Kleinow is far from a nobody on the field but injuries and his early commitment kept him under the radar.
A knee injury limited Kleinow to three games as a junior in 2015.
Kleinow battled an ankle injury last season as a senior but still played a key role in helping the Trojans return to the state title game for the first time since 1999.
“There is no doubt that his best football is in front of him,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “He has the framework and the tools to be very good he is just going to have to put in the work and he’ll do it.”
A projected tackle at Iowa State, Kleinow was one of five high school offensive lineman to sign with the Cyclones on Wednesday.
Kleinow is excited to prove himself at the college level.
“There is going to be a lot of great talent there next year with the offensive lineman that are committing there,” Kleinow said. “It will be great competition.”
After watching Kleinow grow into what he described as ‘one of our best leaders’ over the past two seasons Hartwig is excited to see what he can do in college.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what he looks like in a couple of years,” Hartwig said. “He has the potential to do some great things.”