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Harty: Recruiting questions answered

[ 0 ] July 12, 2013 |

One question I frequently get asked in relation to my job is what’s up with Iowa football recruiting?

With Fran McCaffery having breathed life back into the program, I also now get asked a lot about Iowa men’s basketball recruiting

The questions never cease because the recruiting process is a never-ending search for talent and is without question Kirk Ferentz’s biggest challenge as the Iowa football coach.

So here are 15 questions about the current state of Iowa football recruiting. It’ll be followed next weekend by a similar Q&A about Iowa men’s basketball recruiting.

Q: How many commitments does Iowa have in its 2014 class and who was the most recent player to pick the Hawkeyes?

A: High School kicker Mick Ellis is thought to be Iowa’s most recent commitment, announcing his decision on Twitter on Monday. The Lucas, Texas, native is thought to be the 10th player to commit to Iowa’s 2014 class, all of whom are high school seniors-to-be.

Q: How far along is the 2014 recruiting class in terms of filling all the available scholarships?

A: Probably about half way, considering Iowa’s 2014 class is expected to have approximately 20 recruits.

Q: Who is the most sought-after player in Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class?

A: That distinction without question belongs to Cedar Falls offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher. In addition to being ranked as a four-star recruit by both Scout.com and Rivals.com, Pierschbacher also has scholarship offers from some of college football’s most storied programs, including Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford and USC.

Q: How solid is Pierschbacher’s commitment to Iowa?

A: He hasn’t issued an ultimatum, but Pierschbacher has made it abundantly clear that he might consider some other schools if Iowa struggles again next season. Pierschbacher grew up cheering for the Hawkeyes and to say that he admires Kirk Ferentz and his son, Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz, would be an understatement. But Iowa also has lost 17 of its last 29 games dating back to late in the 2010 season, including finishing 4-8 last season. Combine the current skid with Pierschbacher having scholarship offers from some of the top programs in the country and it’s easy to see why he would have a Plan B.

Q: Has a quarterback committed to Iowa’s 2014 class?

A: Sort of, when you consider that Jay Scheel plays quarterback for Union High School in LaPorte City, but is being recruited as an athlete. Scheel was the second player to commit to Iowa’s 2014 class on Jan. 20, and approximately a week after Pierschbacher got the ball rolling. Scheel is a dual-threat quarterback who projects as a receiver in college, although he reportedly will get a look at quarterback.

Q: What is the latest on Iowa’s search for a quarterback for the 2014 class?

A: It’s hard to say how far down the list the coaches are at this point, but some of Iowa’s top quarterback targets already have picked other schools. One of the more notable losses was Wheaton, Ill., native and four-star prospect Clayton Thorson, who committed to Northwestern in March. Four-star recruit Rafe Peavey also re-solidified his commitment to Arkansas after visiting Iowa last month.

Q: Where does Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class currently stand in the rankings?

A: Iowa’s class as of this week is ranked 35th nationally by Scout.com and 43rd by Rivals.com. Scout has six Big Ten teams ranked ahead of Iowa, led by Ohio State and Michigan at Nos. 6 and 7, respectively. Penn State is ranked 16th nationally, followed by Michigan State at No. 18, Wisconsin at No. 24 and Northwestern at No. 25.

Rivals.com has seven teams ranked ahead of Iowa, but with Michigan nudging out Ohio State for the highest spot at No. 10. The Buckeyes are ranked 12th followed by Penn State at No. 22, Northwestern at No. 24, Michigan State at No. 26, Wisconsin at No. 31 and Nebraska at No. 38.

Q: What kind of impact have Iowa’s three new assistant coaches — Jim Reid, Bobby Kennedy and Chris White — had on recruiting?

A: All three have been praised for bringing energy and compassion to the recruiting front, but especially the 46-year old White. He was largely responsible for convincing defensive back Omar Truitt and linebacker Jameer Outsey to commit to Iowa without either having visited the UI campus.

Q: How many of the 10 players in Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class are from in state?

A: Five. In addition to Pierschbacher and Scheel, Iowa has received verbal commitments from Dubuque Senior offensive lineman Lucas LeGrand, Indianola offensive lineman Keegan Render and Cedar Rapids Xavier defensive end/tight end Matt Nelson.

Q: From which states are the other five recruits?

A: Ellis and defensive back Jyaz Jones are from Dallas, Texas; running back C.J. Hilliard is from Cincinnati, Ohio; outside linebacker Jameer Outsey is from Somerset, N.J., and defensive back Omar Truitt is from the Washington, D.C. area.

Q: Has anybody from in-state in the 2014 senior class committed to another school despite having a scholarship offer from Iowa?

A: Yes, but it came as no surprise when Urbandale receiver Allen Lazard committed to Iowa State on Dec. 3. His father is former Iowa State defensive back Kevin Lazard and his brother is a current walk-on for the Cyclones. Allen Lazard is one of the most decorated recruits to commit to Iowa State. He is ranked as the top receiver in the country by Rivals.com and 25th nationally, regardless of position.

Q: Are any recruits in the 2014 senior class on the verge of committing to Iowa?

A: Defensive end Terrence Harris has told both Scout.com and Rivals.com that he soon might commit to Iowa even without visiting the UI campus. Harris, who attends Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey, is scheduled to visit Iowa City in October. But he might commit before that in order to secure one of the remaining scholarships.

Q: What is the status of junior-college receiver Damond Powell, who was part of Iowa’s 2013 recruiting class?

A: Kirk Ferentz said on June 25 that Powell still was finishing his academic requirements in order to complete junior college and that he likely wouldn’t be in Iowa City until late July.

Q: How has social media affected recruiting?

A: It has reached the point now where many recruits announce their choice for college either on Twitter or Facebook. Recruits also interact more frequently with fans on Twitter and Facebook, although pleasantries aren’t always exchanged. Incoming Iowa quarterback Nic Shimonek also recently issued a challenge on Twitter to the three returning Iowa quarterbacks saying he was gunning for their spots.

Q: Is it unusual for Iowa to have this many recruits committed with the national signing day in February still about six months away?

A: This marks the second year in a row that Iowa has filled half of its class midway through the summer. Don’t expect the trend to end anytime soon, as the recruiting process starts for kids at an earlier age these days and with that come more early commitments. It’s about keeping up with the times.

Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or pharty@press-citizen.com.

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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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