Receivers generally aren't Iowa-style projects. It's not like you can take a 235-lb. high school linebacker and turn him into a prototypical wideout, like you can at defensive end or tight end. Iowa's recent classes have been 75% the linebacker-or-bigger types with some pure wide receiver and halfback commits (and a handful of receiver-like walk-ons) tacked on.
That's not to say they can't be projects, of course. Despite the fact that Iowa has successfully recruited just one four-star wide receiver in the Kirk Ferentz era (Keenan Davis), the Hawkeyes have cranked out the two best receivers in school history, each a three-star "athlete" type. Ferentz's other recruiting hallmarks -- camp superstars, small-school players, MAC-ish offer sheets, and the "overlooked" chip on the shoulder -- remain, of course, regardless of position.
Greg Mabin is a wide receiver in the purest sense -- 6'2", 190 lb., high school wideout -- and not a converted quarterback or linebacker or offensive lineman. And yet, Greg Mabin might be the most Kirk Ferentz recruit Iowa's ever landed. Mabin (3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 2* ESPN) is a soon-to-be graduate of Cavalry Christian Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which plays in Florida's lowest high school division. He held offers from Tulane, Middle Tennessee State, and FCS Jacksonville State, with interest (but no offers) from Wisconsin, Miami, and Vanderbilt, due in no small part to that lower level of high school competition. He's tall, he's a bit skinny, he's fast as hell, and he's raw. And, as Rob Howe reported yesterday, he's got the ideal Iowa mentality:
While at the Pittsburgh and Georgia camps, he reported that the receiver coaches at those schools said he stood out above the crowd at his position.
"Yet, I haven't heard from them since," the 2012 Florida wide receiver said. "I've been overlooked during this whole recruiting process, I think. Everyone that I talk to tells me I should have way more offers than I do right now.
"I feel like I have a lot to prove. I feel like a lot of people are doubting me."
There is one slightly troubling fact here. Since taking over Florida recruiting in 2007, Rick Kaczenski has specialized in this type of overlooked three-star skill position player, with results that are mixed-at-best. None of the seven players Kaz has brought in from Florida in those five years have made a meaningful contribution. Jeff Brinson suffered injury after injury and eventually transferred back to Florida. David Blackwell was shuffled off to Iowa Western. Jack Swanson has made ten tackles in three years. Josh Brown left before he had a chance. De'Andre Johnson has looked tentative and drawn some "meh" responses from coaches. Jake Rudock and Torrey Campbell look promising, but haven't had a chance to prove it yet. Iowa's Florida pipeline, a vital source of skill position players and defensive secondary players during Iowa's first resurgance under Ferentz, needs to come back if the Hawkeyes are going to have a shot of doing it again. Mabin (and Rudock and Campbell and Johnson from the last two classes) could be the start of that revitalization.