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Iowa recruiting 2 JUCO players

[ 14 ] October 26, 2011 |

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz doesn’t normally recruit junior college players, but an immediate need for help on the defensive line might force him to change his approach.

Demond Littles, an assistant coach at the College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., said Wednesday that Iowa is recruiting two defensive players from the school. They are Jake Sheffield, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound sophomore defensive end, and Robert Caldwell, a 6-3, 248-pound sophomore linebacker.

Sheffield is from Aurora, Colo., and previously committed to Arizona State. But now according to Littles, Sheffield wants to explore his options.

Sheffield is 23 years old and a former marine who served two tours in Iraq.

“I recruited him out of the Marine Corps,” Littles said. “He definitely fits the size, weight and speed for (Iowa). and he seems like an Iowa guy, he seems like an Iowa fit. And also Robert Caldwell as well.

“They seem like Iowa guys, and I can see why they would go after them. And they’re honored to hear from Iowa being that they don’t come into the junior college ranks.”

Littles said neither Sheffield nor Caldwell, who is from Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., has been offered a scholarship from Iowa at this point.

“We’re just waiting right now,” Littles said. “Right now, it’s in that evaluation process.

“But from our understanding, the coaches like them both, and we’re going to hear from them over the next couple of days, hopefully, by the end of the week.”

Littles said the Iowa coaches are recruiting Caldwell as a defensive end. He also said Caldwell has slipped under the recruiting radar because his family has moved frequently with his father being in the Marines.

Littles also said that Caldwell and Sheffield are doing fine academically and should have no trouble making the transition to a major college program.

“The bottom line is they’re just not (junior college) players,” Littles said. “If Jake didn’t go to the military and have to be back on the recruiting map, he would already be at a four-year university.

“And Robert Caldwell is a qualifier, and he’s grown into his body. These guys are Division I guys. I was just fortunate to get them into our school, and they’re doing great things for us.”

Sheffield and Caldwell have helped lead the College of the Desert to a 5-2 record at this stage. They play for a defense that Littles said is loaded with Division I players.

“We’re going to have eight, maybe nine, guys going Division I off of that defense,” Littles said. “And most of them are getting recruited by Big 12, ACC and Big Ten schools.”

Littles said he’s gotten to know Iowa defensive backs coach Phil Parker through acquaintances and by speaking with him at the annual coaches convention.

Their friendship, coupled with Iowa’s need for help on the defensive line, has Ferentz at least considering going the junior college route.

Iowa suffered another hit on the defensive line when it was announced Wednesday that true freshman defensive end John Raymon left the team without playing in a game.

“They’re talking to (Jake and Robert) because they seem like Iowa guys,” Littles said. “They’re everything they need.

“I’ve been talking with coach Parker for a number of years now, and for them to come out to the JUCO ranks, it is a need for (Iowa) and we have the kids that fit the bill. I’ve had great kids before, but it wasn’t a need for Iowa, and those kids went on and played major college football. I just happen to have two kids that they view as a need position and these are kids that can play in the Big Ten.”

“I’ve known coach Parker for a couple of years through acquaintences and through the coaches’ conventions and all of that stuff,” Littles said. “And we’ve got some players that fit their needs at this particular time with them losing defensive linemen to the NFL over the years. They have an immediate need, and we have some great players here that are going to be Division I recruits. They just ft the bill.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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