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In-state football recruits big part of Class of 2015

[ 0 ] June 11, 2014 |

In a perfect world, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz would have the luxury of recruiting all of his players from the state of Iowa.

That’ll probably never happen due to Iowa’s low in-state population. But the Iowa football team’s 2015 recruiting class is about as close as it gets, with six of the nine players who have committed to the Hawkeyes living in Iowa. Offensive lineman Brett Waechter, who is from the northwest Iowa town of Hartley, committed to Iowa Wednesday night, announcing his decision on Twitter.

Waechter received a scholarship offer from Iowa on Tuesday. He is the sixth member of the 2015 high school senior class from Iowa to receive a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes. All six players now have committed to Iowa, including four offensive linemen who live in the northwest part of the state.

They are twins Landan and Levi Paulsen, who attend Woodbury Central High School, and Jacob Newborg, who attends West Lyon High School. Both schools are located in the northwest part of the state as Waechter mentioned on Twitter.

“Proud to say I’m upping the 2015 #NWIA Hawkeyes commit count to 4.#EnterTheBlack #GoHawks #Big Boys,” Waechter said.

The other two in-state players committed to Iowa’s 2015 class are Iowa City Regina quarterback Drew Cook and West Des Moines Dowling Catholic quarterback Ryan Boyle.

Combine Iowa’s six in-state commitments with Iowa State having offered scholarships to at least four seniors-to-be from in-state, and 10 players from the state of Iowa have offers from either Iowa or Iowa State. And the calendar still isn’t even halfway through June.

INTERACTIVE DATABASE: WHERE HAWKEYE, CYCLONE RECRUITS CAME FROM, 2001-2014

“People talk about how a negative or a barrier for Iowa and Iowa State in recruiting is that there isn’t talent in Iowa,” said Rob Howe, publisher of Hawkeye Insider.com, which covers Iowa football recruiting for Scout.com. “I don’t think it’s that there isn’t talent. It’s just not as deep as Ohio or Texas or the other big states that produce a lot of players.

“Especially when you consider that most likely there will be at least 10 kids from in-state going to either Iowa or Iowa State in the same year. That’s a pretty darn good year.”

It’s not that unusual for the Hawkeyes to have at least six players from Iowa in a single recruiting class. It’s happened four times since 2002 under Ferentz, the highest total coming in 2009, when nine of the 20 players in the recruiting class were from Iowa.

What’s unusual about Iowa’s 2015 class is that six players from in-state already have scholarship offers this early in the recruiting process. It’s the timing more than anything that makes the 2015 class stand out, because Ferentz traditionally has waited until later in the recruiting process before offering that many scholarships to kids from in-state.

“There also are times when you have kids from in-state that you don’t offer that you get to walk-on,” Howe said.

Iowa and Iowa State often recruit the same players from in-state, but oddly enough that isn’t the case with the 2015 class, at least so far.

Howe thinks it’s strange that there is no over-lapping. None of the 10 players from in-state who have offers from either Iowa or Iowa State have offers from both schools.

“I could see if there were a couple, but to have 10, that seems like a lot,” Howe said. “I don’t know. It’s hard to say why. Maybe it could be just that Iowa State likes the guys they like and Iowa likes the guys they like.”

NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking publicly about a specific recruit. So it’s hard to know for certain why some players get scholarship offers while others don’t.

“It’s hard to know unless you got all of them in a room and were like, ‘All right, are you guys trying not to get beat by each other?’ ” Howe said of the coaches from Iowa and Iowa State.

Cedar Rapids Prairie offensive lineman Bryce Meeker, who committed to Iowa State on Monday, is ranked by Rivals.com as the top in-state recruit in the 2015 class. However, he still doesn’t have a scholarship offer from Iowa, nor does Waukee defensive end Anthony Nelson, who committed to Iowa State on Tuesday.

Iowa State also has offered a scholarship to Murray defensive end Seth Nerness and to Cedar Rapids Washington offensive lineman Julian Good-Jones, whereas Iowa has shown an interest in both players but without offering.

Dowling Catholic quarterback Ryan Boyle

Dowling Catholic quarterback Ryan Boyle

It makes sense why Iowa State wouldn’t offer Drew Cook a scholarship, considering he is the son of former Iowa all-America tight end Marv Cook and that he plays for his father and lives in Iowa City.

Boyle has an older sister who attends Iowa and his father received his MBA from Iowa.

The Paulsen twins grew up as Iowa fans, as did Newborg.

“If you look at it, they all kind of make sense,” Howe said.

Marv Cook was in his son’s position 30 years ago as an Iowa football recruit living in-state. They both committed to Iowa early in the recruiting process, with Drew committing in late February.

As the head coach at Regina, Marv Cook is familiar with the high school talent in Iowa. He also has become better acquainted with the recruits in Iowa’s 2015 class since his son committed and likes what he sees from a physical standpoint.

“It is a deep class,” said Marv Cook, who has led Regina to four consecutive state titles and to a state-record 56 consecutive victories. “You can meet some of these guys at some of the events like Junior Day and see that it really is a good group of big, athletic kids in this class.”

Howe believes that having this many kids from in-state with offers from either Iowa or Iowa State is cyclical. Iowa’s 2006 recruiting class had only one player from the state of Iowa, while Iowa’s 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2008 recruiting classes only had only three players each from in-state.

Part of it also has to do with who commits to Iowa from out of state and when they commit. At this stage, there are just three players committed to Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class who live out of state.

“It’s always a numbers game no matter how you look at it,” Howe said.

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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