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Bulldogs' Liddle has desire to be 'first to everything'
FOOTBALL SIGNING DAY | BETTENDORF

Bulldogs' Liddle has desire to be 'first to everything'

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Dan Knight usually arrives to Bettendorf High School around 5:30 each morning to unlock the doors for wrestling practice.

It isn't unusual Griffin Liddle has been sitting in his car in the parking lot for almost a half-hour waiting on his coach.

"I don't like when people beat me here," Liddle said. "It makes me feel like I'm a slouch, leaves a bad taste in my mouth."

Wednesday was the first day of the national signing period for 2021 football recruits. To nobody's surprise at Bettendorf, Liddle was the first member of Iowa's 17-player recruiting class to submit his letter of intent just after 7 a.m.

"He's got to be the first to everything," his father Josh Liddle said. "It just is the way he's wired."

Where does that mentality stem from?

"I hope it comes from his parents, but I don't know if I was quite that bad," Josh Liddle.

Instead of hitting the snooze button several times, Liddle is out the door before or around 5 a.m. for practice.

"It is a chance to get my mind ready and wake myself up," the senior said. "If I'm not in the right mindset, it is not going to be a good day."

The 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle did a lot of firsts on the football field for the Bulldogs.

He was the first freshman to start on the defensive line. He was the first Bettendorf lineman to be a three-time all-stater. He is among a handful of players to come through the program to be selected a captain as a junior.

"I don't know if there will ever be another guy quite like him come through here," Bettendorf football coach Aaron Wiley said. "He's done a lot of things that nobody has ever done at this place."

The Hawkeyes offered Liddle a scholarship after his freshman season, a rarity according to Iowa director of recruiting Tyler Barnes.

Former Bettendorf standout Pat Angerer tipped off the staff about Liddle.

"You have to be really special, we have to really be sure when we offer somebody that young," Barnes said. "When you play football at Bettendorf as a freshman, that's something to take notice of."

Liddle's rise has not happened through supreme athleticism. The three-star recruit doesn't run a 4.5 40-yard dash or possess a 40-inch vertical leap.

"He does it just by being tougher and outworking people," Wiley said.

Josh Liddle wrestled at Iowa and was a three-time letterwinner under former coach Jim Zalesky from 2000-02.

"My background is wrestling and we trained so we could win matches based on working hard and outworking the opponent," Josh said.

That thinking has been ingrained in his 17-year-old son.

Liddle has never shied away from hard work. He was in the Bettendorf weight room with some of the varsity players before his freshman year.

When he signed his letter during the middle of wrestling practice Wednesday morning, he thought back to all the workouts and 4:30 a.m. wakeup calls.

"There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears," Liddle said. "At the end of the day, if you can say you worked as hard as you possibly can, you can sleep well at night."

Liddle, whose dogs are named Kinnick and Carver, is ready to embrace the grind and lifestyle of a college athlete. He doesn't expect to play right away or even in the first year.

"I've got to work even harder now," said Liddle, eyeing a second consecutive state wrestling title this winter. "I've got to work myself into positions. If I get down, pick myself back up. It is a constant process."

There is one guarantee.

It is unlikely any of Liddle's teammates will beat him to the practice field each morning.

"The other day one of my (wrestling) teammates was here before me and it wasn't a good feeling," Liddle said. "I just said, 'Well, I have to start waking up earlier.'

"I always want to be the first one."

Three others recognized: Bettendorf had three others recognized during Wednesday's ceremony at the school.

Bettendorf volleyball players Annie Stotlar and Caidince Cleveland will continue their careers at Waldorf College and William Penn University, respectively. Abigali Schafer will play soccer at Loras College.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor, with my emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 20 years, the last eight at the Q-C Times.

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