Muscatine-Drake Kulick

Senior Drake Kulick has helped Muscatine's football team compile a 7-2 mark this season and a No. 10 ranking in Quad-City Times sports reporter Matt Coss' final Class 4A poll of the season. Muscatine opens the playoffs at home against Cedar Rapids Kennedy. (Muscatine Journal)

The list of walk-ons to succeed in Iowa’s football program during coach Kirk Ferentz’s tenure is well-documented.

Dallas Clark, Sean Considine, Brett Greenwood, Bruce Nelson and Derek Pagel are a handful of players who made a name for themselves in black and gold.

Drake Kulick, a lifelong Hawkeyes fan, believes he can follow their path.

The Muscatine senior linebacker decided Thursday evening after his official visit in Iowa City to accept a preferred walk-on opportunity with the Hawkeyes over a half-ride scholarship offer from Northern Iowa.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Hawkeye,” Kulick said. “I have just as good a chance at Iowa as I do at UNI to achieve my goals.

“Walk-ons can have it pretty hard at some places, but a lot of the players at Iowa, a lot of them being walk-ons, said the coaches don’t treat you any differently. I’m walking in with a pretty darn big chip on my shoulder to prove I’m the guy.”

The 6-foot-2 and 210-pound Kulick was a third-team all-stater this past season and was selected to the Mississippi Athletic Conference’s first team on offense as a receiver and on defense.

With former teammates Isaac Ales and Griffin Gaeta at UNI, coupled with the Panthers being his first scholarship offer, Kulick said it was a difficult decision.

“I fell in love with that place, but I just knew I wouldn’t be happy at any other place than Iowa,” Kulick remarked.

Kulick said Hawkeyes assistant coach Reese Morgan was “almost yelling” in excitement after hearing his decision.

“I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack,” Kulick said.

After Kulick notified UNI, he said the Panthers plan to visit Muscatine today and increase their offer.

Asked if a full-ride from the Panthers would change his mind, Kulick said: “It’ll certainly make it a lot more difficult, but I made my decision and consider myself a man of my word.

“But I don’t want to put myself in that scenario until something like that is put in front of me.”

Kulick said he plans to be a middle or weakside linebacker. While the intention is for him to redshirt, he hasn’t ruled out playing next season if the opportunity arises.

“They are extremely thin on linebackers right now, and I feel I can maybe outperform some of the linebackers they have on the team right now,” Kulick stated. “That’s the goal, to be the best linebacker that they have and work myself into the two-deep.”