116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY -- It's an interesting concept. It might work, but then it might not.
Either way, you'll probably see Kirk Ferentz and his Iowa staff pick off a player or two every recruiting season who has committed or has been recruited heavily by schools in the Mid-American Conference. You know the MAC, that fun conference that plays weeknights on ESPN.
“I'm not so sure there aren't times we shouldn't wait till December, try to raid the MAC commitments, get the All-Stars,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I'm serious. There are a lot of good players in that league.”
Former Iowa safety and Indianapolis Colts all-pro Bob Sanders had offers from Ohio University and Iowa. Former Iowa quarterback and current Kansas City Chief Ricky Stanzi had offers from Miami (Ohio), Purdue and Iowa.
Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley is a current example.
The 6-foot, 205-pound redshirt freshman was a standout in football and basketball at Brother Rice High School in Pontiac, Mich. He attended several summer camps of Big Ten schools, but he didn't get any offers.
Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Toledo offered, and Martin-Manley committed to Bowling Green before the start of his senior year.
"I was a Bowling Green Falcon for a couple of months," Martin-Manley said.
It wasn't over, though. Martin-Manley worked out with former Michigan receiver Ron Bellamy. Bellamy put in a call to his former coach Erik Campbell, now receivers coach with the Hawkeyes, and told him to look up Martin-Manley.
Campbell checked the tap and had Martin-Manley come for a visit in December 2009.
Iowa, being the biggest name in Martin-Manley's recruitment, played the "big boy" card.
"Coach Campbell told me straight up, he was honest, he said, 'Look, we're going to bring you down for a visit and you're going to commit and if not, we're going to go on to another guy,' " said Martin-Manley, who has 28 catches for 292 yards and three TDs for the Hawkeyes this season. "He's an honest guy and I'm glad he did that.
"I understood that I had to commit now if I wanted to come. I came and I think it was a Sunday right before I left, I committed."
Martin-Manley called the Bowling Green coaches before he boarded the plane home to Michigan. It was a lot of pressure for a high school senior, but it's not like these guys don't face pressure with every step they take.
"My family had my back," he said.
Martin-Manley wasn't the first player Iowa pillaged from the MAC and he won't be the last.