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Pat Harty: For Iowa recruiting, location is everything

[ 0 ] February 11, 2014 |

Just because signing day has come and gone doesn’t mean the same for this weekly recruiting column.

With Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class now official, it’s time to look closer at the 2015 class and at a trend that ultimately could help land four-star defensive end Jashon Cornell, who is a junior at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minn.

Let me explain.

The few times that Kirk Ferentz has landed a star recruit, usually a connection helped make it happen, most often location.

Several of Iowa’s top recruits under Ferentz have come from the Chicago area, a list that includes former four-star offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga, former four-star tight end Tony Moeaki, and former four-star linebacker Matt Roth.

Former five-star offensive lineman recruits Dan Doering and Blake Larsen also grew up in Illinois and Iowa, respectively. Neither lived up to expectations in college, but were heralded coming out of high school.

Continuing with the bordering-state theme, Adrian Clayborn was a four-star recruit from the St. Louis area before becoming an all-America defensive end at Iowa in 2010.

Former Iowa linebacker Jeremiha Hunter is one of the few exceptions to this pattern, as a former four-star recruit from Pennsylvania.

As for Cornell, in addition to being from a bordering state, he also received his first scholarship offer from Iowa, for which he is grateful.

But to get him, Ferentz will have to convince Cornell that Iowa is his best option; better than Ohio State, better than Michigan, and better than Notre Dame and all the other high-profile schools that have offered Cornell a scholarship.

Cornell has been to Iowa City on several occasions and spoke highly about each visit, saying it feels like family.

It certainly helps that Iowa doubled its win total from 2012 by finishing 8-5 last season, because it’s unlikely that Cornell would consider a school on the decline.

It also helps that former Iowa defensive end Broderick Binns graduated from Cretin-Derham and now works as a substitute teacher at his alma mater and trains with Cornell on a regular basis.

Speaking of recruiting connections, Iowa has one that ultimately could help land two of the top players from Ohio in the 2015 class.

Four-star linebacker Justin Hilliard is the younger brother of incoming of Iowa running back recruit C.J. Hilliard. Justin Hilliard is ranked by Rivals.com as the top middle linebacker in the 2015 senior class and the second best recruit in Ohio.

A native of Cincinnati, Justin Hilliard already has nearly 40 scholarship offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Southern California.

Three-star center James Daniels is the younger brother of Iowa sophomore-to-be running back LeShun Daniels. James Daniels is ranked by Rivals.com as the third best center in the 2015 class and 15th among players from Ohio. His list of offers includes Auburn, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State, among others.

GOPHER HOSPITALITY: All-state quarterbacks Drew Cook and Ryan Boyle both attended a Junior Day event at the University of Minnesota this past weekend. They also recently attended a Junior Day function at Iowa.

Cook is a junior at Regina and is coming off a 2013 season in which he led the Regals to the Class 1A state championship and a 14-0 record.

Boyle is a junior at West Des Moines Dowling and is coming off a 2013 season in which he led the Maroons to the Class 4A state title and a 14-0 record.

HOOPS UPDATE: With a week off between games, Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery has more time to focus on the future.

McCaffery traveled to Decatur, Ill. on Monday to watch 6-foot-5 shooting guard Christian Williams, who is a junior at St. Theresa High School in Decatur. Williams told HawkeyeInsider.com that he had planned to attend Iowa’s victory over Michigan on Saturday, but he couldn’t because of a scheduling conflict. Williams is now scheduled to attend Iowa’s game against Wisconsin on Feb. 22 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Junior college point guard Trey Dickerson told HawkeyeInsider.com that McCaffery planned to attend his game on Wednesday. The 6-0 Dickerson attends Williston State College in North Dakota and is averaging 19.8 points and 5.9 assists per game.

Dickerson is scheduled to take his first official recruiting trip to Alabama-Birmingham on Thursday.

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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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