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. First up, the guys in the backfield:
(reminder: catch video for all the prospects at the GoHawks recruiting blog)
JAKE RUDOCK (6'3", 185)
St. Thomas Aquinas (Weston, FL)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (78)
Arguably the most important recruit in Iowa's entire class, Rudock was the source of considerable angst from Iowa fans over the past month as Miami went all-in to get him to switch his commitment from Iowa to the Canes. But no amount of sweet-talking could persuade Rudock (or his Miami season ticket-owning dad) to back off his commitment to Iowa. On the surface, he seems almost too good to be true: he's a well-spoken kid with a pre-medicine major who seems to value integrity highly. And, oh yeah, his quarterback stats are staggering: he completed 64% of his passes over his career, threw for over 5000 yards and 73 touchdowns, and had 31 wins as the starting quarterback on a team that won three state championships and two (mythical) national championships. You can't go ten feet without finding something about Rudock that's impressive.
So why is he "just" a consensus 3-star and why didn't he have every major program beating down his door? Damn good questions. His size isn't quite ideal (although at 6'3", 185 lbs. he's just an inch shorter and about ten pounds lighter than Stanzi when he arrived at Iowa) and there's been considerable debate about how much of the credit for his gaudy stats and the team's stunning record is owed to him and how much is owed to the prolific talent that surrounded him; it's certainly easier to dominate the prep ranks when you have a slew of teammates also headed to major programs. Still, it doesn't take a Tom Lemming to look at Rudock's film and be impressed: he shows great touch on a lot of his deep balls and appears to have an uncanny knack for hitting his receivers in stride. Rudock's the most celebrated QB recruit to come to Iowa since another guy named Jake -- let's hope the only thing they have in common is recruiting hype and their first names. In terms of demeanor and mechanics, Rudock already looks ahead of JC6.
2011 Outlook: Redshirt, unless he's absolutely lights-out at fall camp and earns the QB2 job -- and don't rule that out.
Fun Fact: Rudock greatly prefers the teachings of Descartes to those of his school's namesake.
MIKA'IL MCCALL (6'0", 215)
Thornridge (Dolton, IL)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (77)
Mika'il probably isn't a guy you want to fuck with: his dad is former heavyweight boxing champion Oliver McCall. Punching dudes is generally frowned upon in football (and not nearly as effective anyway, what with all those pads and helmets), so McCall will have to make do with metaphorically knocking out his opponents. He had offers from about half the Big Ten (Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois, and Purdue) and even ended up verballing to Sparty last summer. He started getting a wandering eye during the fall, though, and eventually found himself drawn to Iowa -- a move which prompted him to leave MSU in the lurch. Consider it the Melvin Gordon story, only the opposite and with a happy ending (unless you're an MSU fan, in which case it kinda sucks).
McCall seems destined to get overlooked a little compared to the other running backs in this class. He doesn't have the freakish strength and power of Coe, nor does he have the jitterbug speed of Canzeri. He has fairly standard RB size (6'0", 215) and speed (fake 40 time of 4.5) and mainly just seems to be a solid mix of size and speed. He's the sort of running back whose highlights may not blow anyone away but who seems like he could be a very steady performer given time. It's hard to tell where he fits in with the rest of the running backs this year. Iowa probably wants to redshirt 1-2 of these running backs in order to spread out their eligibility and because it's unlikely that they'll all have an opportunity to play (barring AIRBHG's usual machinations, of course).
2011 Outlook: Redshirt, unless he can produce on special teams.
Fun Fact: Mika'il is not the last son of a dying planet, rocketed to Earth to protect us with his fantastic powers; he's just another kid invading Iowa City from the Chicago 'burbs.
JORDAN CANZERI (5'9", 172)
Troy (Troy, NY)
2* Rivals, 3* Scout, N/A ESPN (45)
Canzeri was one of the latest prospects to sign on with Iowa, but he's certainly one of the most intriguing. He was headed to Villanova before late offers from Iowa and UConn rocked his world. He chose Iowa (obviously), thus following nearly the exact same career path that led Mike Daniels to Iowa a few years ago. 'Nova is really going to start to hate Iowa at this rate. Canzeri had a solid junior season (1252 yards), but absolutely blew up as a senior (2048 yards and 33 touchdowns rushing, plus three special teams touchdowns). Aside from being a relative late bloomer, the other thing preventing Canzeri from drawing much attention is from bigger programs is his diminutive size: 5'9", 172 is definitely on the small side for a running back. Then again, how important is size? Ferentz specifically referenced having passed on Danny Woodhead because of his small stature, and he only went to have ridiculously productive college career (albeit at a much lower level of competition)... and, oh, yeah, be a pretty good NFL player, too.
But oh lord that speed. If you haven't watched his highlights yet, you really, really, really should. As always with highlight reels like this, it's hard to know how good the opposing defenses are, but his acceleration in the open field is breathtaking to see. There are a few plays where a defender seems to have the angle to tackle him -- only Canzeri just accelerates right past him. His fake 40 time is listed at 4.4 and even if he isn't quite that fast, he still looks pretty damn fast. He represents the sort of running back that Iowa really hasn't had since probably Damian Sims: the quick-strike back that can provide a welcome change of pace. Sims was half of an effective one-two punch with Albert Young back in 2005; Canzeri could be the perfect counter-punch to the more bruising running of guys like Coker and Coe. If nothing else, he could provide another welcome option in the return game; he had three kick return touchdowns as a senior and with his speed he seems like a natural choice to try out back there.
2011 Outlook: Special teams; outside shot at carries.
Fun Fact: "Canzeri" is Italian for "one who is proficient in the art of super-fast stabby-time."
DAMON BULLOCK (6'0", 195)
Mansfield (Mansfield, TX)
2* Rivals, 2* Scout, N/A ESPN (45)
Bullock is a guy who wasn't on the radar of even the most hardcore
creepsters recruitniks until the past few days. Bullock's other interest came from North Texas and Tulsa, but he seems like a classic late-bloomer. He played only three games as a junior because of injury, but had a very productive senior season: 1606 yards (on 6.7 ypc) and 22 TDs. He has pretty standard running back size and speed (fake 40 time of 4.5) and seems like a talented prospect who slipped through the cracks, mostly because he didn't do much of note until his senior season. That said, he looks a step or two behind the other running backs in this class (he doesn't look as fast as Canzeri, nor as powerful as Coe, nor as smooth as McCall), so he seems like a good bet to redshirt (unless AIRBHG wreaks his usual havoc, of course). He also seems like a possible option to switch to defense, although with only two scholarship running backs on campus until this class arrives (and with the litany of maladies that have struck down Iowa running backs in recent years), the coaches may just opt to keep as many running backs around as humanly possible.
2011 Outlook: Redshirt.
Fun Fact: Despite the storied efforts of his distant relative to enforce law and order in a time of general lawlessness and moral turpitude, Bullock has no desire to visit Deadwood.
RODNEY COE (6'3", 238)
Running back / Linebacker / Human Bowling Ball
Edwardsville (Glen Carbon, IL)
4* Rivals, 4* Scout, 3* ESPN (79)
And finally, the curious case of Rodney Coe. Coe is the most celebrated back in this class, with a laundry list of offers from BCS schools (including Auburn, Florida, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, USC, and Wisconsin), although his decision reportedly came down to Illinois and Iowa. Just as the Polish Hat did a year ago, Coe spurned the Zooker's clumsy advances to wear the black and gold. The controversy surrounding Coe has been just what position he'll play at Iowa. For one thing, he's fucking huge -- not quite John Clay size, but still pretty enormous for an incoming freshman at running back. For another, many of the schools recruiting him preferred to put him on defense and he played linebacker at the U.S. Army All-America high school all-star game.
But he chose Iowa in part because they promised him a chance to play running back and in his presser today Ferentz again reiterated that he'd have a chance to play running back. But it's not as if guys haven't quickly switched to another position soon after they got a lay of the land; Christian Ballard came to Iowa to play tight end, but he was on the defensive line before you could blink. Still, given the non-existent nature of Iowa's depth at running back (unless Ferentz does a U-turn on the A-Rob dismissal, Marcus Coker and walk-on Jason White will be the only Iowa running backs who've logged a carry in a game), the smart money is on Coe getting a long, hard look at RB. And we'd be lying if we didn't think there was something pretty appealing about having two bruising backs to grind defenses into paste.
2011 Outlook: Sees carries at RB and plays on the coverage units on special teams.
Fun Fact: Rodney has a record of 11-2-1 (including seven knockouts) in his secret career as a cagefighter under the nom de plume "Sir Wrecks-a-lot."
MARCUS GRANT (6'3", 195)
Lawrence Academy (North Carver, MA)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (76)
Grant was supposed to be part of a one-two twofer from Lawrence Academy, along with LB Mike Orloff, but Orloff got cold feet at the eleventh hour and decided to take his ball to the sun and sand of UCLA, leaving Grant as the only representative from the Bay State. Grant was actually the very first commit to verbal to Iowa in this class, doing so waaay back in April of 2010. Considering that he committed so long ago and that he wasn't subject to the intense scrutiny of guys like Rudock or Coe, it was fairly easy to overlook him. He certainly didn't post eye-popping stats in high school (JR: 22 catches, 413 yards, 6 TD; SR: 26 catches, 557 yards, 8 TD), but he has impressive size and a respectable fake 40 time (4.5). And, hell, over the past 2-3 years Iowa has gotten monster careers out of two converted quarterbacks who didn't play a lick of wide receiver in high school, so seeing what Soup can do with a prospect that's already familiar with the position is plenty exciting.
2011 Outlook: Possible redshirt, but there's a definite opportunity for playing time, with only two returning receivers with experience.
Fun Fact: Grant never misses an episode of Hoarders.
JACOB HILLYER (6'4", 195)
Somerset (Somerset, TX)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (76)
Iowa made a concerted effort to hit up Texas harder than usual this year and they came away with three prospects (Hillyer, Bullock, and LB Melvin Spears), with Hillyer maybe being the best of the bunch. Like Grant, Hillyer has prototypical size (6'4", 195) and solid speed (fake 40 time of 4.5). Unlike Grant, he also boasts ridiculous productivity from high school: 72 catches, 1024 yards, 8 TD as a junior, and 87 catches, 1647 yards, 18 TD as a senior. Frankly, his senior stats alone would be incredible career stats at Iowa. The opportunities are certainly there for a freshman wide receiver to possibly earn a spot in the rotation; Iowa returns only two receivers who've caught even a single pass. One of the freshmen likely redshirts; who it is probably depends on which receiver picks up the playbook faster -- and which receiver is a better blocker.
2011 Outlook: Like Grant, a possible redshirt, with the possibility of playing time.
Fun Fact: Hillyer always thought it was a little racist that the White Power Ranger always had better weapons and cooler Zords than the Black Power Ranger.
NOTE: Per FOTP Mas Casa, Iowa has "parted ways" with WR recruit Austin Vincent, who needed to get a better test score to become eligible anyway.