COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL SIGNING DAY IS TOMORROW. Iowa is still waiting to hand out a couple of scholarships as Reggie Spearman and Jonathan Parker will announce their college choices today. Jacquille Veii will decide between Maryland, Nebraska and Iowa tomorrow. Fans of Alabama, Ohio State and others wait to hear if one of the nation's elite prospects will pick their school. Spearman's announcement is about as exciting as it gets this year for Iowa. Instead of debating the choices of five-star running backs, we're going to discuss the list of new walk-ons to the Iowa Football program. Because it's the most Iowa thing ever.
Before we get to the list let's talk about the importance of Iowa adding several "preferred walk-ons" to the program. I won't rehash all the rags to riches stories that have come from Iowa under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa is a developmental program that relies heavily on finding underrated or undervalued prospects (due to size or foot speed) and getting them through a top notch weight program molding them into Big Ten, and sometimes, NFL football players. Iowa's preferred walk-on program is their over-signing in a way. It doesn't work the way it does down South, where SEC schools stockpile talent at each position, but it's proven effective.
Now, to be fair, one of my first posts on this blog was a rant about the abundance of walk-ons in Iowa's two-deeps. I bitched and moaned about seven walk-ons, of 44, and that being a factor in Nebraska handing Iowa their ass in 2011. I belive it's about balance. Walk-ons are important because they fill a role on your team's practice squad and occasionally can emerge at a position in which previously a recruiting miss may have occurred. Occasionally, being key. Too many and the team is arguably competing at a level that's lower than Big Ten quality.
As already mentioned, every program needs kids that are willing to take a beating for a couple of years. Walk-ons spend just as much time in the weight room as scholarship players and that means there's sacrifice of the college student life. It's a tough road and not all the athletes that give it a go last very long. There's the few that are highly motivated or were just overlooked by everyone that do in fact get that chance to run out of the tunnel (cue the Rudy theme song). That's why we'll quickly profile the prospects that have committed to join the Iowa football team and pay their own way. Because there could be another Mark Weisman in this bunch.
THE LATEST TO COMMIT. Bo Bower had an opportunity to walk-on at Iowa State or Iowa. He also had a full scholarship at Northern Iowa if he wanted it. Bower decided yesterday to take the "preferred walk-on" opportunity at Iowa. He is currently 6'2" and projects as an outside linebacker.
Paul Brown decided Sunday to take the walk-on opportunity. Rivals lists Brown as a dual-threat quarterback from Spirit Lake, Iowa. He's 5'10" and 190 pounds so expect a tryout at a defensive backfield position. His Rivals profile lists Brown with a concrete feet-like 4.93 forty-yard dash. His Hudl highlights show he's not exactly running in sand.
Alden Haffar went to Iowa Central Community College after high school. Prior to attending ICCC, Haffar graduated from West Des Moines Valley. He was a solid kicker for ICCC and even hit a 51 yard field goal. He's already on campus as he joined Iowa at the Spring semester.
Andrew Stone would have been teammates with Haffar at ICCC if he had gone to ICCC. He didn't, as it was pointed out in the comments, he went to Iowa Western Community College. He hauled in 60 receptions for 685 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Stone is originally from Northern University High School in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Here are his highlights:
Iowa Western Football 2011 - Andrew Stone #11 WR (via ReiverFootball)
Chad Gilson played high school football with Travis Perry, in Urbandale Iowa. Perry is another walk-on to two-deep success story. Gilson was the CIML defensive player of the year in 2009. He spent the last two seasons at Northern Iowa and played in seven games at linebacker last season.
Corbin Blythe didn't get enough of his older brother pushing him around growing up, so he joined the Iowa team. Corbin doesn't have Austin's size. He's 6'1" 225 pounds. He'll add some weight and end up at a defensive tackle or an offensive guard position.
Connor Keane is a wide receiver prospect from Cretin Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota. Keane is 6'1" 185 pounds. In his YouTube highlight video he does flash some speed and fluid hips. Maybe he ends up in the defensive secondary.
Boone Myers is athletic enough to play tight end in high school. That at 6'5" 255 pounds. He'll surely add some L-Bs and try to find a way into Iowa's offensive line rotation in a few years. Of the "preferred walk-ons", I'd wager Myers might have the most upside (video).
Drake Kulick is a two-star linebacker, according to Rivals. Kulick is from Muscatine, Iowa, and could play the inside linebacker position. He's listed at 6'2" and 205 pounds and like the others, will need a couple years in the weight room before he sees the field (video).
There will be more names added to this list and I may have missed a couple too. If so, please add in the comments and I'll update the post. There's still another prospect the Iowa staff is waiting on. Trev Hadachek, a two-star "athlete" on Rivals, who has a Northern Iowa scholarship on the table.
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