Jim Bonifas already had a handful of scholarship offers in hand and even more were likely on the way.
He didn’t need to hear any more recruiting pitches, though. Dubuque Senior’s standout left tackle had already found his future football home.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound junior made it semi-official over the weekend, verbally committing to play at Iowa State on full scholarship. Bonifas chose Iowa State over a trio of Power-5 conference teams, a Mid-American Conference team and a program from the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
“After visiting so many different schools and really getting to know the staff there at Iowa State better, through camp and a couple visits now … there’s not another staff like them,” Bonifas said. “I really like the way they approach the game and that was something that really helped me choose Iowa State.”
In addition to the offer from Cyclones coach Matt Campbell, Bonifas also held scholarship offers from Louisville, South Dakota State and Northern Illinois. He also visited Kansas State and had taken multiple visits to Iowa.
“I think he was going to get some more offers, too, the way it was going,” Rams coach Dale Ploessl said. “There were some more schools starting to get interested in him so it started to pick up, but Iowa State did a great job recruiting him. It’s just a good fit for him.”
Bonifas said he hasn’t narrowed down an exact major, but wanted to start working on a Masters program while he was still on scholarship, if possible.
Bonifas currently plays a key role in the post for the Rams’ basketball team, which is enjoying a successful season so far this winter. Bonifas was averaging 8.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game entering Tuesday night’s ranked showdown against Waterloo West.
Bonifas, who also throws discus for the track team, has started at left tackle for Senior the past two seasons after being called up to start his sophomore season. This past fall, Bonifas emerged as one of the top linemen in the area and helped spearhead a Rams offense that averaged 6.3 yards per play and scored 28 touchdowns.
Senior ran for 1,555 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry last season while throwing for 1,962 yards.
“He’s really built himself up over the last couple of years,” Ploessl said. “Jim was a pretty skinny kid coming out of junior high and he’s really worked hard in the weight room and has gotten a lot bigger. He keeps getting better and better every year, and I think that’s what a lot of people like about him. He has a lot of upside.
“He’s got room to grow and he’s very athletic for his size. He’s a great kid and (the Iowa State coaches) really like all the other intangibles he brings to it as well with his grades and the type of leader that he is.”
Bonifas also played on the defensive line, recording five solo tackles with nine total stops. He assisted on a sack and recovered a fumble as the Rams qualified for the Iowa Class 4A playoffs.
While both lines are critical to team success, he prefers playing on the offensive side.
“That shows you how good of a team guy he is,” Ploessl said. “Offensive line is a tough position to play and you don’t get a lot of accolades down there. Usually the only time you get noticed is if you do something wrong. He’s really taken a liking to that position and he’s become pretty dominant at it.
“I think all guys like to play defense a little, too, and who knows, he might even play defense (at Iowa State). He’s athletic enough to do it. I think both for Jim it’s a good fit and for Iowa State it’s a good fit, and I think he’s going to have a great career there.”