2022 OL Dave Iuli is 'Like a Teddy Bear Off the Field,' But On the Gridiron, He's a Terror

Parker Thune

As the Sooners continue to mine the Pacific Northwest for top talent in the trenches, they’ve set eyes on a 2022 four-star behemoth from Puyallup, Washington.

Dave Iuli is 6-foot-5, and weighs in at a hulking 330 pounds. He's the kind of person that might be blindly characterized as fearsome and intimidating. But he doesn’t want his colossal frame to give off the wrong impressions to anyone.

“When people see me on the field, a lot of people say I’m mean,” Iuli laughed. “I hope everyone knows, man, I’m like a teddy bear off the field. I’ll sing to you with a guitar if I have to. That’s one thing that everybody gets wrong about me.”

But as lovable as Iuli may be when he’s not wearing shoulder pads, he’s an absolute monster on the gridiron - and he knows it.

“When you’re the big dude, you’ve got to make sure you ball out and destroy anyone that gets in your way, you know?”

Iuli’s size, intensity, and aggression at the tackle position have helped him blossom into one of the state’s top recruits. Prior to this week, he’d already accumulated eight FBS offers.

Enter Sooners offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, who already had his radar pointed at the Evergreen State. Shortly after offering Seattle product Josh Conerly, Bedenbaugh dialed up Iuli.

“I had a great conversation on the phone with Coach Bill,” Iuli said. “We chatted, got to know each other, and he offered me. It was awesome.”

It was Iuli’s first offer from a Big 12 program, and he couldn’t help but bask in the crimson-tinged splendor of the moment.

“I mean, the Sooners… they’ve won the Big 12 five times in a row,” Iuli said. “Oklahoma is definitely one of the schools that stands out to me.”

Iuli also expressed that his family is quite keen on his potential future in Norman, and that’s not lost on him at all.

“Honestly, my parents are big fans of Oklahoma,” he said. “They love Oklahoma.”

As a high school sophomore, Iuli has well over a year and a half to make his collegiate decision. But he’s already mulling over the options on the table, and he’s got a good idea of what he wants from his future university.

“Me and my parents discussed this, and what we look for in a school is, who can take me to that next level?” Iuli said. “I want coaches to look at me and say, ‘This kid, he’s ready. We need him now.’ One of the things that I look for is somebody who’s going to look after me, help me, take care of me. Who’s going to get me to that next level?”

He’ll certainly have his pick of the litter as to where he plays his college ball. In fact, Iuli’s offer from Oklahoma wasn’t even his last one on the day, as LSU made him an offer mere hours later.

Iuli emphasized that he’s in no rush to commit, and that he’ll do his due diligence in the meantime. But amongst the programs that have already extended a scholarship to him, Iuli’s certainly got a set of favorites.

“If we had to pick a few, it would be LSU, Oklahoma, Washington, Oregon, and Wazzu,” he said.

At least in the immediate future, Iuli has his eyes set on his junior season of prep ball. He’s searching for a bit of redemption, as he’s been out of action for quite some time.

“I missed my whole sophomore year due to my meniscus surgery,” Iuli said. “I tore my lateral meniscus. It was supposed to heal faster, but since I’m a big boy and I’ve got all this weight on me, it was a longer process, and I ended up missing the whole season. I’m trying to stay focused, and I’m going to ball out this junior year for sure.”

Wait. Rewind. He missed an entire season?

Translation: Iuli has 10 FBS offers - including two from 2019 College Football Playoff participants - based on his freshman tape alone. He hasn’t played a down of competitive football since 2018, yet he’s still regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the state.

Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantine period have presented, Iuli has maintained a consistent workout routine, and continues to rehabilitate from his injury.

“I have a whole weight room in the garage,” he said. “Right now I’m doing really good; I’m putting in a lot of work. And when the time comes for the season, I’ll be ready to ball out.”

And he’s not just looking forward to scoring pancake blocks and blowing open running lanes. It’s the opportunity to lead by example that truly excites Iuli.

“I feel like one of the biggest things that I really strive to accomplish on the field is being that guy that keeps the team together,” he said. “And it’s not only on the field. I want to be a leader off the field as well, making sure my boys are on top of their work, doing good in school.”

Considering the veritable feeding frenzy that’s already ensued over Iuli, the Sooners will have to fight tooth and nail for his commitment. But Iuli said Oklahoma’s offer won’t be just another letter in the pile.

“I’m definitely not going to let them slide by,” he reiterated. “I’ll definitely be looking into Oklahoma, I’ll be going on a visit, and I’d love to get to know the coaching staff.”

Whether his future lies in Norman or elsewhere, Dave Iuli will take the field on a mission to destroy everything in his way.

But as soon as the final horn sounds, you can wholeheartedly expect to see his “teddy bear” side once again.

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