Recruiting never stops at the major college level, or rarely even slows down for that matter
Interest in recruiting is the same way.
That’s why I’m starting a weekly column that will focus almost exclusively on Iowa football and Iowa men’s basketball recruiting. It’ll run on Tuesdays for the foreseeable future — at least until the Feb. 5 national signing day for football — and will help to answer the question I’m asked probably more than any other: “What’s up with recruiting?”
Let’s start with the 8-4 Iowa football team, which helped its cause by doubling its win total from last season and now has yet another bowl appearance under Kirk Ferentz to sell to recruits.
Iowa usually signs approximately 20 to 25 recruits each year, with the 2014 class being no exception. The 2014 class already has 17 players committed, all of whom are high school seniors.
“We’re probably looking at the 20 ballpark,” Ferentz said. “I’ll know more in a month or so.”
Parker Hesse was the most recent player to commit to Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class last week. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Hesse played both linebacker and quarterback for Class 2A runner-up Waukon, but his future is on defense.
Hesse is the latest in a long line of lightly recruited players from in state to accept Ferentz’s offer to be a Hawkeye. The fact that Hesse played quarterback in high school speaks of his athleticism and his understanding of the game. Former Hawkeye linebacker Chad Greenway and current Iowa linebacker James Morris also played quarterback at times in high school.
It’s hard to say who tops Iowa’s remaining wish list for 2014, although four-star offensive lineman Brian Wallace would be a good guess. The St. Louis native took an official visit to Iowa on the weekend of the Michigan game and watched the Hawkeyes defeat the Wolverines 24-21 on Nov. 23 at Kinnick Stadium.
Landing the 6-6, 304-pound Wallace won’t be easy, though, with Missouri, Alabama and Arkansas also in the mix. He visited Missouri this past weekend and raved about the experience to Scout.com. However, it’s important to remember that many recruiting stories are written with a biased toward a particular school, especially if the person writing the story covers the the school.
But Missouri’s timing with Wallace couldn’t have been better, with him present for Saturday’s victory over Texas A&M. The Tigers improved to 11-1 on the season and will face Auburn in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Missouri would offer Wallace a chance to play in his home state and for a program on the rise and in what is considered the best conference in college football.
Four star quarterback Tyler Wiegers also visited Iowa on the weekend of the Michigan game. The Michigan native previously was committed to Rutgers, but now is expected to choose between Iowa and Penn of the Ivy League.
Speculation has the 6-4, 215-pound Wiegers favoring the Hawkeyes, but partly because it’s hard to picture a four-star prospect picking an Ivy League school over Iowa for football.
“I think he just wants to see another school to compare it to and make sure that his mind is made up,” said Rob Howe, publisher of Hawkeye Insider.com. “I think the whole Rutgers experience has made him kind of edgy and apprehensive about committing so quickly again. I think he wants to be sure it’s the right school after going through the whole process once and thinking he had found the right school before changing his mind.”
Rounding out the big three on Iowa’s wish list is three-star receiver Adonis Jennings from Sicklerville, N.J. He attends the same high school — Timber Creek — from which Iowa junior linebacker Quinton Alston graduated, so there is a connection.
The 6-3, 190-pound Jennings already has visited Iowa, and like Wiegers, was previously committed to Rutgers. Jennings is also considering Pittsburgh, Temple, Arkansas, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. And don’t rule out him getting back with Rutgers because reports say both sides are still communicating.
Recruiting is fluid and the Feb. 5 national signing day is still two months away. That’s why some Iowa fans haven’t given up on the chance of landing Cedar Falls four-star offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher, although my belief is that Pierschbacher will stick with Alabama.
Iowa already has received its first verbal commitment from a player in the 2015 senior class with 6-4, 270-pound West Lyon offensive lineman Jake Newborg committing to the Hawkeyes in late August.
As for Iowa men’s basketball recruiting, coach Fran McCaffery signed two high school players in November in 6-8 forward Dominique Uhl and 6-4 shooting guard Brady Ellingson, and still has two scholarships remaining for the spring period. The next addition to the class could be another high school player or a junior college prospect or a transfer from another school.
So stay tuned.