Attention turns to Hawkeyes' recruiting class

Iowa needs help on the perimeter and the sell is opportunity

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IOWA CITY — During Monday’s news conference to introduce Brian Ferentz as Iowa’s new offensive coordinator, head coach Kirk Ferentz and his new OC noted that immediate recruiting appointments were waiting for them.

HawkeyeReport.com reported Tuesday that Brian Ferentz would visit wide receiver Harry Van Dyne (6-5, 185 pounds from Blue Valley High School in Kansas) this week.

Iowa’s recruiting class has 14 known commitments for 2017. Kirk Ferentz said Monday that Iowa plans to sign 20 to 22 prospects. The national signing period begins Feb. 1, that’s just more than three weeks away.

Iowa’s staff, currently one body short with Greg Davis’ retirement, will hit the road for two weeks beginning Thursday.

“I think we’re really well positioned right now, but like every year, certainly like last year, what happens in January, really helps shape and mold the recruiting class, and I think we are off to a good start,” Kirk Ferentz said. “We have a good core group of guys right now who are committed to us, and this class, thus far, at least, feels like (what) we had last year, which after having them on campus for whatever it would be, six, eight months, I think they have a chance to really be a good group.”

Iowa’s last commitment was Wisconsin wide receiver Max Cooper in December. Before Cooper, it was Florida defensive back Josh Turner in August.

Ferentz made his opinion on recruiting rankings loud and clear in November when he said, “At the end of the day, those recruiting rankings really don’t mean crap. I mean, with all due respect.”

So, if you’re into that sort of thing, Rivals.com has Iowa ranked 53rd nationally and 12th in the Big Ten. Iowa’s 14 commitments also are the fewest of any school in the conference.

Iowa remains in the mix for Iowa City West wide receiver Oliver Martin and recently extended an offer to Georgia cornerback Trey Creamer. Alabama linebacker Thomas Johnston and New Jersey athlete John Lovett are also on Iowa’s wish list. New Jersey wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette doesn’t have an Iowa offer, but is set to visit on Jan. 20, according to HawkeyeReport.

“We’re hoping that we can finish well,” Ferentz said. “We’ve got two and a half weeks here of hard work in front of us, and, hopefully, that all goes well.”

Iowa’s problems in the passing game were obvious last season. It was a prominent question on Monday. What’s the sell for wide receivers who might want to come to Iowa?

“I’d say they have a tremendous opportunity, I’d start there,” Brian Ferentz said with a laugh. “Certainly offensively we didn’t execute to the standard we hoped to this year at all times. There was some good mixed in with the bad. I think it’s hard to win eight games with all bad. But as far as getting guys excited to play, I think you sell them on opportunity and what we intend to do moving forward.”

Kirk Ferentz extended the “opportunity” sell to cornerbacks. Lost in the news of Brian Ferentz’s promotion was the release of the first depth chart for 2017. Iowa’s top four cornerbacks going into spring practice — sophomore Manny Rugamba, junior Joshua Jackson, sophomore Michael Ojemudia and redshirt freshman Cedric Boswell, with sophomore Amani Hooker probably No. 5 — have three career starts among them.

“That question came up earlier: What do we sell? You talk about opportunity,” Kirk Ferentz said. “You’re a perimeter guy, offense or defense guy right now — you create opportunity. Manny is a great example. I mean, he jumped in there and played in the biggest game of the year and did a heck of a job (Rugamba had an interception against Michigan and was named Big Ten freshman of the week).

“He could probably do the same thing on offense — and I think he’s either a one- or two-star guy, but the guy is a football player. I wish we had three like that, so we are trying to recruit a couple guys like that, and that’s what we tell them, ‘Hey, come on, door is wide open for right now.’”

There are three weeks left and Iowa has as many as eight scholarships to fill. It’s going to be a frenzied finish.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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