Iowa got commit No. 22 of the 2014 class Tuesday night, when JUCO defensive end Torey Hendrick finally announced that he had picked the Hawkeyes. Hendrick's commitment had been rumored for months and briefly flashed across Twitter at one point during the season; it's finally official.
Hendrick is a 6'4, 230-lb. rush end from Dawsonville, Ga. by way of ASA College in Brooklyn. He's a consensus three-star prospect who held offers from the likes of Florida State, Rutgers, Arizona State, Kansas State, and Kansas. 247 Sports ranked him as the No. 7 JUCO strongside defensive end nationally. His composite grade was on par with Trevon Young, who had committed to Iowa as a high school player, spent a year at Iowa Western, and snubbed the Hawkeyes for Louisville. Hendricks received interest from Georgia Tech, Rutgers, and a handful of Sun Belt/CUSA programs out of prep school, and has only increased his presence since then. He's a solid pickup at a position of need.
Of course, none of that matters if he can't contribute right away, and therein lies the problem. Hendrick miscalculated his credits in his first semester at ASA and ended up a credit short of graduating on schedule. That means he cannot take visits, sign a letter of intent, or appear on campus in Iowa City until June at the earliest. That's a spring camp and at least some summer workouts missed. Iowa stuck with him even after the problem was discovered in December -- that loyalty was crucial to securing his commitment -- but it runs contradictory to Ferentz's usual view on junior college tramsfers. From the Hawk Central story of Damond Powell, who didn't make it to campus until August last year:
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been reluctant to recruit college players over the years. And when he does, Ferentz prefers that they join his program at the start of the spring semester, or at least early in the summer, in order to have more time to adjust.
Ferentz made an exception with Powell, who averaged a whopping 30 yards per catch as a sophomore last season. Powell finished with over 1,900 receiving yards in two seasons at Snow College, including 1,231 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall.
Powell was exactly what they thought he would be: A deep threat and much-needed playmaker on the outside, and yet he barely saw the field because he didn't know the nuances of the system.
And so when Hendrick, who could very well see playing time next year if he can get here, says he can't get to campus until June at the earliest, the odds of him getting buried increase exponentially. Iowa might have won his commitment by being loyal, and coaches must see something that makes them believe that their patience will pay off, but Hendrick is going to have to do something fast when he gets here to make this work and avoid the fate of every JUCO transfer since Marshal Yanda.
Iowa's 2014 class was projected at around 20. At 22, the Hawkeyes have blown through that number. The decision to take a punter is so weird that something has to be amiss with the existing group. Presumably a running back or two is on the way out. Iowa can find spots. But Hendrick's commitment could well mean the end of this class for Iowa. No late reaches, no Casey McMillans or Greg Castillos, just a solid, three-star-packed class for the first time in nearly a decade with 2015 looking like a fucking monster of a class. Regardless of how next season goes, at least one aspect of the program is back on sound footing, and not a moment too soon.