Faced with one of the most consequential decisions of his life, Charlie Kolar flipped a coin.
Not so much to render a verdict, though, as to give him some insight into his own thinking about the prospect of staying for a fifth season with the Iowa State football team or leaving for the NFL.
“My parents taught me this technique — when you can’t make a decision, flip a coin and you say you’re going to make a decision based on the coin flip,” the All-America tight end said. “The way you feel afterward gives you a pretty good idea of what you actually feel (about a decision).”
So, Kolar flipped a coin after the 2020 season.
“I think it landed for Iowa State,” he recalled, “and I felt good about it.”
The choice to return to Ames for another season was certainly one Iowa State felt good about, keeping one of the nation’s top tight ends in the fold going into a season in which the Cyclones should be ranked highly in the preseason poll and have College Football Playoffs aspirations.
“He’s light years ahead of where he was going into last season and we’re only in April right now,” Iowa State tight ends coach Taylor Mouser said. “The steps that we could take over the next months before the season, there are still a lot of areas we can get better at, as crazy as that sounds.”
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The 6-foot-6, 257-pound Kolar had 44 catches for 591 yards and seven touchdowns last season, but in addition to simply being a year older and more experienced, there’s reason to expect even better performance in 2021.
Kolar had offseason surgery for a sports hernia, then had to spend the spring of 2020 at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then he was sidelined at times due to contact tracing, Mouser said.
“He didn’t really get any kind of strength program or work program with me or coach (Tom) Manning going into the season last year,” Mouser said.
That created the lingering feeling that Kolar may have left some development on the table last year.
“When you work out at home by yourself, you can work, you can push yourself as hard as you can,” Kolar said, “but you can always push yourself harder with people around you.”
So as Kolar weighed his options for 2021 — which would have likely included being drafted by an NFL team — the thought of additional training with the Cyclones staff as well as strength and conditioning coach Dave Andrews was a significant consideration.
“I talked to the people close to me and obviously I’m going back and forth,” Kolar said. “It took me a while to make my decision, but I feel that for the betterment of my long-term career but also just right now and what’s going on here, I thought it was the best decision for me and my family to come back.”
With some help of a coin.
“There definitely were times going back and forth,” Kolar said. “It’s hard to pass up the opportunity to go play in the NFL and the opportunity to go make money and be a professional, so there were definitely times I was leaning one way or the other, but I think I made a good decision.”
Kolar’s decision not only gives the Cyclones another All-American on offense, but it keeps their tight end room as one of the best in the country.
“It’s really powerful to see someone with the foresight that Charlie has to say ‘OK, I’ve got my degree, but I want to do these things and improve in these areas in order to give it my best shot,’” sixth-year senior and fellow tight end Chase Allen said.
“I’m so happy that he’s here.”