Iowa football #MusterOneUp Mailbag: Important recruiting date coming up

This is not 'Hangover 3: The Electric Booglaloo'

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One little bit of business before we get to the interaction.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was asked Tuesday if he expected the Hawkeyes’ currently committed 2018 class to jump on board during the early signing period, which begins Dec. 20. That’s kind of sneaking up.

The Hawkeyes currently have 14 commits, with Indianapolis, Ind., defensive backs D.J. Johnson and Julius Brents and Michigan linebacker Ben VanSumeren being the latest to join Iowa’s class, which is currently ranked 59th in the nation by Rivals.

Ferentz basically said the plan is for current commits to sign, but it’s not a given. This is the first early high school signing period since the NCAA approved it last year. The signing period will last 72 hours, beginning Dec. 20 and running through Dec. 22. Players who choose to sign early this year can take official visits after their senior year of high school begins, which has been standing NCAA policy. For future years, the official visit period is slated to move up to April during players’ junior years.

“We’re optimistic. We’re hopeful,” Ferentz said. “And the vibe we’re getting is that will be what takes place. But you never know, recruiting as you well know is very, very unpredictable.”

Players will have the choice to sign in December or wait until the signing period that starts on the first Wednesday of February (Feb. 7) and runs until April 1.

Does the prospect want to keep things open and wait for whatever they’re looking for? Or do they just want recruiting over?

You know Iowa isn’t into the recruiting drama.

“And to me it’s really the first signing date, at least with the guys we have committed right now, prospects we have committed, seems like we’ve all had a really good mutual relationship and we’re all on the same page,” Ferentz said. “So if they choose not to sign in December, then that just tells us maybe that there’s a little pause in their thinking and in turn it will cause a pause in our thinking.”

On to the #MusterOneUp mailbag. Last one.

From emailing Seth:

This is likely to sound crazy but I had a thought about the Hawks punt return situation. It’s clearly bad and, outside of Dez King the last few years, has rarely been a strength under KF. I’m wondering if Iowa could potentially manufacturer a competent punt returner? Hear me out, check out the roster and look at the guys who are RBs, WRs, and DBs (they presumably have some ball skills) who have a few years in the system (or walk-ons) and aren’t on the two deeps thus they aren’t getting any meaningful reps in practice outside of the scout team anyway.

A quick look shows D Young, Falconer, Quarells, Dafney, & Joly. Guys whose positional development has hit its apparent ceiling. Why not make them a specialist like you would a punter, kicker or long snapper? What if their sole purpose was developing as a punt returner? I’m not saying that a Devin Hester will be mined out of this group but what if you found someone who is simply able to not negatively affect the game?

What difference this could have made in the MSU, NWern, & Purdue games? Maybe not making great plays, simply the right plays. Plus, Iowa could be getting something out of it’s otherwise non-productive parts of it’s roster. (Other special teams spots these guys may occupy not withstanding- now they’re full time special teamers.) And yes, it’s too late this year but something that could happen in the future.

This falls into the Ferentz conundrum that he doesn’t play the best players. I don’t think that’s exactly what Seth is getting at here, but a lot of people just blindly buy into that notion. That’s what gets coaches fired. And the right answer is Iowa recruiting.

Just a real up-and-down year for special teams. Kicker Miguel Recinos has been solid. Iowa will be recruiting another punter, or probably will. Matt VandeBerg and punt return the last two weeks has been mind boggling. You saw how the corners were rotated out after getting burned in back-to-back-to-back-to-back plays. Punt return doesn’t offer the immediate implosion, but it’s erosion and it eventually has the same effect.

This is the time of year where people look around at the scholarship and start turning over rocks. Iowa already sort of does what Seth suggests with special teams, but I’m not sure Iowa can afford having a scholarship player just be a returner. I don’t know, it’s not an unsound idea.

If you want to discuss scholarships, how does offensive tackle go from seniors to freshmen? And, man, would Brett Waechter not have really helped there.

Emailer David:

I think we all expected some kind of hangover after the euphoric Ohio State game, but it seems we got “Hangover” the movie. Two games and Iowa still can’t piece together what happened the night they manhandled the Buckeyes. Do you see any chance this ends before Nebraska on Friday or should we just give up hope until next season? Getting “tasered” by a kid has to be better than what we’ve watched since then.

I’ve not seen any face tattoos, so it’s not “Hangover 3: Electric Boogaloo.”

The Ohio State result was more Ohio State than Iowa. I think we all can agree on that at this point. Nate Stanley made some plays in that game that were above and beyond. After that, this was OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano making some huge miscalculations in game plan and preparation. He’ll be great as Tennessee’s head coach.

 

You should expect to be Wisconsin. That’s not going to happen overnight.

How huge are the next two years for Iowa football? Attendance is officially sagging. Kinnick is getting a new $90 million north end zone that had to happen. You’ve already seen the Hansen Performance Center.

If there’s not a Big Ten West Division title in the next two seasons, Iowa can’t reasonably expect you guys to keep wearing the “Win, Graduate and Do it Right” T-shirts.

I’m not ripping athletics director Gary Barta and that saying. It’s what you should be shooting for. It is college sports. But tracking toward 7-5 for the fourth time in a decade? Iowa can’t afford to make the mistake of shrugging off how much winning means to you guys.

That attitude will make Iowa a desolate B1G West outpost just as fast as making the wrong coaching hire.

Wisconsin is run by Barry Alvarez. I’d argue he’s the biggest reason for the Badgers’ staying power.

 

All of the above.

And, hey, the week’s not over.

 

I’d love to see you guys happy. I’m not sure I ever will, though.

Turkey day beer? Keep it light. Save room for pumpkin pie. Wait, make mine a bourbon.

 

Yes.

Iowa had a historically bad game against Wisconsin. The Huskers are having a historically bad season, especially on defense.

This game feels like a two-foot putt. I’m not sure either team is capable of sinking that right now, so that makes this game really, really weird.

I feel like Iowa can win 40-10 or lose 28-24. It doesn’t look like the Huskers can throw a punch on defense. But then Iowa scored 55 against Ohio State and 15 against Purdue.

Weird season. Not the worst, not the best. I feel like Iowa is tracking toward another drop in season ticket sales, just like 2015.

Anyway, I can’t wait to eat a glop of cranberry with the ribs of the can still imprinted in it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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