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The mystique of a Steele quarterback

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NOVEMBER 28, 2011

Somewhere out there far among the American flatlands, there walks a man named Steele.

He currently roams the Iowa State sidelines; cap turned backward and clipboard in hand. Hobbled slightly by a tweak in his foot, Steele has been relegated to the sidelines for further examination. Only two months after being the talk of The Hawkeye State after a victory in the big rivalry game, Jantz ended his year the bruised and battered backup.

They say that Steele Jantz might be made of steel after all. Otherwise his will would have surely been broken by now. Living in his third time zone in three years, Steele’s dream of quarterback stardom remains unfazed.

On Saturday, Jantz concluded his junior season — his first at the Division-I level. And much like his entire football career thus far, it was tumultuous.

There was the glory: First, he engineered two fourth quarter touchdown drives in five minutes to win the first game of the season. Then he threw four touchdowns and made countless big plays in a triple-overtime win over the rival Iowa Hawkeyes. He even overcame a strained foot and three interceptions to navigate another fourth quarter comeback to defeat Connecticut.

And then came a couple of losses. And then the sprained foot. It sounded simple enough. Jantz should have healed quickly. But then the freshman backup came along and beat Oklahoma State. For the rest of the year, the sideline would be the only place for Steele.

But the story hasn’t ended yet. It’s because buried deep in the heartland, there might exist the perfect American quarterback.

Steele Jantz is a small-town guy whose name is unbreakable. Within Steele Jantz exists a core, a foundation fostered by the American blue collar and cultivated by dogged persistence.

He is a player with a penchant for greatness but whose body has prevented him from finishing anything that he has started. A daring dual threat, Jantz will have to win his starting job back come spring practice. But he’s had to win respect back before.

Playing for a notorious football afterthought in Ames, Jantz has one more season to fulfill the greatness for which he was bred.

With a mythical name, astonishing achievements and a mystifying life journey, Jantz’s career will either end in glory or tragedy. Seeing how things have gone thus far, it seems unlikely that his career arc will allow for anything besides an extreme conclusion.

Steele is the son of Foxx Jantz and the nephew of Wolf Jantz. His brothers are named Truk and Broughan. His high school teammates claim that he threw the ball so hard when he warmed up, you could hear it whistle from anywhere in the stadium.

The whistles of his spirals were some of the only sounds teammates heard from the typically reserved quarterback. Teammates listened when he spoke. He maintained an aura of mystique to everybody.

Steele Jantz has never tasted soda.

A stud athlete seemingly destined for greatness out of Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, Calif., the complications all started when he broke his tibia in the Miners’ second game of the season. There was no game film of him playing quarterback and that meant that no scholarship offers would be arriving.

Jantz trekked across the Pacific Ocean to accept a walk-on offer at Hawaii. They let him run the scout team offense, but they wanted him to play safety at the next level.

Steele was a quarterback. Safety was the position that broke his leg. So he transferred to City College of San Francisco and, while living out of his truck, led the team to the junior college game in his only season as starting quarterback. He would eventually commit to the only team that offered him a scholarship.

And so sits Steele Jantz: A mysterious man of no weak disposition. A man with one more season and one more chance.

A chance to make the Cyclones more than dust devils. A chance to fulfill so much promise that has up to this point been derailed by bad luck. One more chance to be the American Dream.

He has one more chance to be Steele Jantz.

Contact Gabriel Baumgaertner at 


NOVEMBER 28, 2011