It's raining recruits! While our amigos over at Zapatos Negros Diarios are lamenting the state of their own recruiting, Iowa football welcomed not one, not two, but three recruits to the fold yesterday. Or to the verbal commitment portion of the fold, anyway; it's a long, long way 'til February and Signing Day. We already spoke effusively about Jake Rudock earlier this morning, so what of the other two men joining the fold? The first domino to fall in yesterday's Commitmentpalooza was TE Ray Hamilton (3* Rivals/3* Scout/4* ESPN). ESPN rates him as the 12th best TE prospect in this year's class, and while his measurables aren't eye-popping, he seems like the prototypical Iowa tight end: big, physical, and good at catching the ball. And regardless of his star ratings, Hamilton had a list of offers a mile long, including ones from some high-profile schools (Florida State, Cal, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin). Hamilton becomes the third high-profile tight end recruit in recent years to sign on with Iowa (joining Tony Moeaki and C.J. Fiedorowicz); clearly the fact that Iowa keeps churning out NFL tight ends is starting to pay dividends.
Most importantly, Hamilton clearly gets the Stanzi-ian ethos that define the current Iowa team:
"It’s going to be fun, that’s all I have to say," the 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end said. "Love it or leave it."
The second recruit to come aboard yesterday was less-heralded, but perhaps no less talented. DE John Raymon (NR Rivals/NR Scout/NR ESPN) has flown under the radar of the recruitniks, but he quietly picked up a handful of offers from FBS programs, including Iowa, Illinois, NC State, Purdue, and West Virginia. Most recruiting hype stems from production early in a recruit's career; Raymon simply hasn't had that much experience yet. He more than passes the eyeball test at 6'5", 245 lbs., with a 4.6 40 and a reported wingspan of 6-10/6-11 (Binns 2.0?). Lord knows how accurate those figures are (the 40 is almost certainly fudged, as nearly all HS 40 times are), but he looks like the perfect specimen to stash with Doyle and Kaczenski for a few years to develop into the next terrormonster along the defensive line. Raymon also has one of those life stories that should provide great fodder for Iowa sportswriters:
"People are going to write books about John," Jack Finney said. "He had a tough upbringing. When we met him, he was 12 and really had an A-typical (sic) upbringing.
Meet the new boss, just as destructive as the old boss (hopefully). Our new buddies in Nebraska know a thing or two about highly-touted defensive line prospects that come back for their senior year in hopes of terrorizing quarterbacks, improving draft positioning, and, oh yeah, hauling in armloads of trophies. So we can only hope that Adrian Clayborn has a senior season as amazing as the one Ndamukong Suh had last year.
"I want to finish off what I started," Clayborn said. "I don't think I've done all I've wanted to do yet. I want to finish off right."
That should sound familiar.
It was almost exactly Suh's mission statement at this time last year, when the emerging NFL prospect resisted the draft-day temptation and committed to one final season at Nebraska.
Suh, the second overall pick in 2010, is now a Detroit Lion. The patience paid off. Suh had 85 tackles, 24 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 20 sacks as a Husker senior, earning seemingly every notable defensive award and a trip to the Heisman finalist banquet in New York City.
That Suh did that as a goddamn defensive tackle is, of course, utterly stupefying. For the record, Clayborn had 70 tackles (20 TFL), and 11.5 sacks a year ago. Teams will certainly be gameplanning to limit Clayborn's ability to wreak havoc, but the overall quality of the rest of the Iowa defensive line could make that a disastrous approach, too. Even if you can curtail Clayborn's influence, you're still going to have to deal with The Incredible GULK, The Fantastic Mr. Binns, and Big Bad Christian Ballard.
"Up-tempo" is the only tempo we care to go. ESPN's Dana O'Neill has an excellent profile of Fran McCaffery's move from Siena to Iowa and while there lots of great nuggets of information in there, if you ever wanted to know just how desirable the Iowa men's basketball coaching job appeared to outsiders last spring, well...
The friend, a long-standing member of the college basketball fraternity, called Fran McCaffery and said what more than a few people were thinking.
"He just screamed, 'Are you crazy?'" McCaffery said of his unfiltered friend, whom he preferred not to name.
As Iowa fans, we certainly hope McCaffery is crazy like a Big Ten-winning fox. In the meantime, though, he knows how to win over a disgruntled fanbase:
One way McCaffery will make the Hawkeyes more attractive to potential recruits: He's upping the tempo. Lickliter brought his methodical game to Iowa City, and unfortunately, what worked at Butler did little to win games or woo fans at Iowa.
The Hawkeyes averaged just 60.5 points per game last season and six times failed to reach 20 by halftime.
Conversely, McCaffery's Saints, with their full-court and 3/4-court trap, averaged 75 points per game en route to a 27-win season.
Certainly McCaffery wasn't hired on his style of play, but there is no denying it is an added bonus.
In Iowa, up-tempo translates to one thing -- Davis and the Hawkeyes' glory years in the late 1980s and early 90s that saw Iowa make nine NCAA tournament appearances, an Elite Eight berth and a No. 1 ranking during the 1986-87 season.
"You might beat us, but we're going to attack you,'' McCaffery said of his philosophy. "We might lose some games, but I think fans are more tolerant if you lose that way. When you squeeze the air out of the ball, people aren't happy. That worked for a few people -- guys like John Chaney and Pete Carril, Hall of Famers. If you're going to be playing games at 52-50, you better have a lot of 52.''
As O'Neill notes, "up-tempo" is catnip for Iowa basketball fans, since it evokes memories of Lute and Dr. Tom, Ronnie Lester and B.J. Armstrong, Roy Marble and Andre Woolridge. We can't help but agree with ESPN's Eamonn Brennan, though: winning is still what will ultimately bring fans back to Carver (and TV sets around Iowa), but at least they won't be so joyless and soul-crushingly dull to watch now.
BHGP Betting Consultants, LLC is not a real company and does not encourage you to fritter money away at sports books, but if you must... Mas Casa brings word of a handful of early betting lines for Iowa football games this fall (which Hlas confirms); get your calls in to your bookies now. Morehouse has more analysis at the link, but here's a quick and dirty look at the lines:
9/11: Iowa State at Iowa (-14)
9/18: Iowa (-2.5) at Arizona
10/2: Penn State at Iowa (-3)
10/16: Iowa (-3) at Michigan
10/23: Wisconsin at Iowa (-3)
10/30: Michigan State at Iowa (-7.5)
11/20: Ohio State at Iowa (+4)
11/27: Iowa (-9) at Minnesota
Way-too-early gut feeling? Hop on that Iowa-ISU line (last year aside, Iowa never ever covers that goddamn line) and that Iowa-Minnesota line -- hell, a touchdown and a field goal and you're in the clear there, right? Oh, and in the last twenty years, nine of the fifteen Iowa-MSU games have been decided by 7 pts or less... just sayin'.
- Rittenberg continues his pre-season countdown of player rankings and Tyler Sash checks in at #5.
- Speaking of our favorite oddly-coiffed sportswriter, he's also got a look at some of the transition in the line-up and has some raves for those defensive tackles we love so much.
- Iowa had a rare mid-summer quasi-Media Day; cliches were on full display.