Sure, caring is creepy. That's why we generally leave it to the Rivals/Scout guys. But once their signature goes on the dotted line of an Iowa letter of intent, caring ceases to be creepy and becomes essential. So, without further ado, your objects of affection and/or scorn (sometimes both at the same time) for the next four or five years. Next up: The tight ends and linemen.
RAY HAMILTON (6'5", 230)
Strongsville (OH) H.S.
4* Rivals, 3* Scout, 4* ESPN (79)
Unless Cyrus Kouandjio has a late change of heart, Ray Hamilton might be Iowa's biggest recruiting coup of 2011. The stars, while impressive, don't really tell the whole story: Hamilton chose Iowa over offers from Oregon, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida State, and 14 other suitors from across the country (though, surprisingly, not Ohio State). That interest was not just on athleticism and promise, either. Hamilton racked up 1,570 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns on 99 catches in his high school career, including 55/902/11 as a senior. The recruiting services had him ranked between the 8th- and 18th-best tight end on the board. Hamilton's commitment marks the second consecutive year that Iowa's landed a top tight end, and only solidifies the program's growing reputation among tight end recruits.
There's no denying Hamilton's size and athleticism: At 6'5" and 230 pounds, he's nearly ready-made to play tight end. He's also a good enough blocker to at least be considered for the offensive line, should the staff determine that is where he can be used best. Normally, we would say this would be the ticket, especially with Polish Hat poised to take the reins at tight end in the next year or two. But Hamilton's hands might be too good to waste on the line, and weight work can always be done. Expect a redshirt, a year or two backing up Fiedorowicz, and two years as a starter.
2011 Outlook: Redshirt, barring injury to Brad Herman or C.J. Fiedorowicz.
Fun Fact: Only pays in $20 bills.
HENRY KRIEGER-COBLE (6'4", 220)
Mt. Pleasant (IA) H.S.
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (78)
There aren't that many circumstances anymore where Iowa and Iowa State go head-to-head for a recruit; even for in-state players, coaches generally have an idea of a player's preference and plan accordingly. Krieger-Coble is the now-rare exception, having received an Iowa State offer in late May, an Iowa offer in mid-June, and committing to Iowa before anyone else could get in the mix. HKC had a productive high school career, racking up just over 1100 yards receiving on 69 receptions, while playing wide receiver as a junior and senior. Potentially more important is his defensive experience: as a linebacker, Krieger-Coble recorded 108 tackles in his senior season.
The reason we say it may be more important is that, despite being listed by the services as a tight end, Henry Krieger-Coble might be a classic case of an "Iowa body": A big enough frame and just enough experience on both sides of the ball that he could be moved to linebacker or defensive line if necessary. His coaches have praised his hands, and Iowa State was considering him as a slot receiver. In other words, we have no idea where he'll end up playing.
2011 Outlook: Redshirt, while he puts on 20 pounds as a man without a position. Spring 2012 is time for placement.
Fun Fact: His cousin is Jess Settles (this one is actually true).
JAKE DUZEY (6'4", 220)
Tight End/Wide Receiver
Athens H.S. (Troy, MI) (this seems inappropriate)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 2* ESPN (73)
Normally, I would say Duzey is a classic tweener: A player with the size of a tight end/H-back who primarily played slot receiver (and some halfback) in high school, much like the aforementioned Krieger-Coble. The difference here is that, where HKC was heavily involved in the run game and routes across the middle, Duzey was deployed frequently as a deep threat and outlet near the sideline. If you're going to play tight end or H-back at Iowa, it's block-first (you're not playing TE2 in two tight end formations to catch passes), and those skills would need to be developed if he were to move into one of those spots. His offers belie this fact: Oregon wanted him as a tight end, in their "slot TE" role. Same goes for Purdue, Cincinnati, and Toledo.
Because of that, it's hard to say what Iowa plans to do with Duzey. His high school coach says he runs a 4.4 40 (so, yeah, probably 4.6 or so), and Iowa lost a receiver on Signing Day, so the initial inclination is wideout. On the other hand, he's added 20 pounds over the last year and is still slightly undersized, so if he can learn to block, he can be a consummate Iowa tight end. Expect everything, believe nothing.
2011 Outlook: Either he redshirts, or he's Iowa's fifth receiver.
Fun fact: Again, this one is actually true: His high school team's logo is the Tiger Hawk.
AUSTIN BLYTHE (6'3", 280)
Williamsburg (IA) H.S.
4* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (79)
Austin Blythe is a mountain, and he is ready to go tomorrow. He's a multi-sport athlete (two-time Iowa high school heavyweight champion). He's wanted to play for Iowa his entire life. He's basically the perfect recruit. Blythe grew up 25 miles from Iowa City and, after browsing through a field of Wisconsin, Stanford, and the Big 12 North, stayed close to home. The early commit and the generic small-school giant Iowa kid thing might be why he's been reduced by Scout and ESPN (to be fair to TWWL, 79 is borderline 4-star).
Any concern over his generic small-school Iowa white giantness went out the window yesterday, when Kirk Ferentz answered a question about him by flatly admitting Blythe is better prepared as a freshman than his own son. There are two spots open at guard, and the options aren't exactly setting the world on fire: Gettis has had two shots to win the job and never has held it for longer than a couple of weeks, Nolan MacMillan can't seem to stay healthy, and other options like Brett Van Sloten are just as inexperienced as Blythe. Normally, a freshman guard would be looking at a redshirt and at least one more season backing up an upperclassman before seeing action. That might not be the case here.
2011 Outlook: Backup guard in September. Starting guard in November.
Fun fact: Worked at the Brooks Brothers Outlet in Williamsburg, despite the fact that none of their clothes fit him.
JORDAN WALSH (6'3", 275)
Glenbard West H.S. (Glen Ellen, IL)
4* Rivals, 4* Scout, 4* ESPN (79)
And yet, for all the accolades Blythe received at Wednesday's press conference, it was Walsh who received the most praise from the recruitniks. Due to his enormous size and distinctly average mobility, Walsh projects as a guard, and does he ever: Scout placed him second in the country at that spot, with Rivals and ESPN dropping him in the teens. In any case, Walsh enters Iowa as one of the most ballyhooed offensive linemen in the country, and with good reason: He is nearly ready-made for duty at guard. Preparation and participation are different things at Iowa, though, even in a transition season, and so it will be difficult at best for Walsh (who is repeatedly praised for his raw talent but lacks in refined technique) to break into the mix as a true freshman.
2011 Outlook: Redshirt,
Fun fact: Grandson of Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh and, as a result, rocks the ponytail during the offseason.