WE LINKED IT HERE. But let's go deeper into the transcript of two hours of discussion from Kirk Ferentz from Friday's media session in Chicago. It's a lot to digest as Ferentz talks a little bit about his philosophy when it comes to recruiting and Iowa football.
Ferentz was asked about his strategy for forming a Hawkeye football roster. He went into an old tale of the 2002 football team. It's becoming something Ferentz is known for these days. Taking us on a trip in the wayback machine. Ferentz talked about Bob Sanders and USC's Troy Palamalu, both being overlooked recruits out of high school. (Palamalu being the last recruit taken at USC.) Ferentz said,
"We can't be a size or speed team, a combine team"
That's an important note because the type of athlete that Iowa recruits certainly reflects that statement. Ferentz added,
"At Iowa, you need to keep an open mind. It's more about mentality and personality and perseverance. You have to have requisite skill and ability, but the mental part is more important because it's a hard race to run. It's not for everybody."
Since the recruiting debate has emerged the last couple of weeks it's important to note these remarks. Ferentz admits that Iowa isn't the most attractive school for top flight athletes. Your five-star recruits. The coaching staff needs to find kids that fit their program. This is where the wrestlers and weightroom warriors fit in.
Ferentz used Bret Van Sloten as an example. Van Sloten was with Ferentz at Media Days in Chicago, one of three players selected to travel to the event. He'll start this season and anchor and offensive line that's thought to be a team strength. Ferentz was asked if Iowa was Van Sloten's only scholarship offer out of high school. He thought there were some others but discussed why Iowa offered him when seemingly no one else did.
"With him, it was more about intangibles than anything else"
The questions then moved to "about Iowa guys." Kids from Iowa's home recruiting base. Ferentz, again discussing Van Sloten and other Iowans on the team, said,
"On the field, they were not the most gifted for athletic of guys, but boy they were determined, smart, physical and tough. Those guys have a chance...they find a way to rise to the top."
There's also talk about those four-star guys. Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard, specifically. Ferentz noted that not often at Iowa players walk in ready to play like Ballard did. He used the NFL draft pick bust as a scenario when asked if four and five-star recruits can be overrated. He talked about projecting football players and compared the differences to basketball, a sport with summer AAU leagues and kids playing competition around the country. He talks about the changes in recruiting, the parents and the challenges.
"Parents are still saying that, but there are a lot of them more interested in the playing time than education, and that is just my opinion and in generalities."
We've seen a change over recent years in the number of true freshmen playing for Iowa. Whether it be special teams or a solid contributor on either offense or defense. The coaching staff has adapted with time to the changes of the landscape.
Moving on to the upcoming season, Ferentz believes Greg Davis will be a better coach this year. Ferentz didn't admit last season was bad but did state that Davis and the team had challenges with the transition from O'Keefe's previous style, jargon and offensive philosophy. Ferentz went so far as to call the transition "traumatic for everyone." He added that everyone is more comfortable now and Bobby Kennedy, Iowa's new wide receiver coach, has a "great relationship" with Davis.
Ferentz is going to keep the quarterback competition open to start off camp. He thinks it's only fair to get an equal amount of reps before deciding on a starter. He also says the wide receiving corps is probably the weakest position on the offense. He added,
"the good news is we have a fairly veteran line, a group of tight ends that are veteran and runnings backs we didn't have last year"
He was asked if Weisman could be a 20 carry per game running back and replied, "I can see that." He said that Canzeri kept getting better as spring went on and they'll "use anybody we can use to move the ball down the field." Receiver seems to be a real concern and that last quote could perhaps signal that Iowa will use Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri somewhere in passing situations.
There's also the tight ends. Ferentz was asked if 45 catches was kind of the ceiling for C.J. Fiedorowicz. Ferentz said "I hope it's 60." He added that they have five capable players in the tight end group. It's a position that needs to be a big part of the 2013 Iowa offense.
Ferentz was asked about the critisism directed towards James Morris, senior linebacker. This is where Ferentz gets a little protective, like these are his children. Ferentz said,
I don't get that. I've gotten some feedback on that. I just don't get that. I don't know. Other than the fact he's had an appendicitis attack, I'm trying to think of something negative I could say about James and even there, he had it at a good time as opposed to October, November. It started with his first appearance, the Penn State game . It was pretty phenomenal really. He's an outstanding football player. If there's anything negative being said, I don't get it. What's the knock on him?
Ferentz went on to add that Morris is "in an elite category," when it comes to a person both on and off the field. He mentioned Morris' attitude and work ethic and said he believes he'll be a great player even long after his career at Iowa is finished. Insinuating a professional football career.
"When you're 4-8, everything is bad, " Kirk said. He didn't make excuses. In fact, other than skipping back 10 or so years, he was mostly about moving forward. Iowa hosts NIU on August 31st and at home. "I'd rather play at home against anybody, " Ferentz added. Although he did note "we lost at home plenty last year. That doesn't guarantee anything."
That summarizes about half of the transcript. If you continue reading, Ferentz discusses: off-the-field issues, coaching changes around the Big Ten, more Greg Davis, team leadership, breakout players, expansion, new college football rules, social media and labels.
When asked about labels he went into a story about Barry Alvarez and Joe Tiller joining the B1G. He said,
"So you know, you just got to figure out what your best method is and both those guys changed and tweaked to along the way. It's just what you think is best."
And that sums up Ferentz and Iowa. He seems to know who they are and the challenges it takes to win at Iowa. He should by now, he's been doing it for 15 years. It takes a particular athlete with specific intangibles to fit into a system that probably isn't changing much. It's worked in the past and by this interview it's obvious the Kirk Ferentz believes it will work again.
Iowa football dates: Team reports Aug 4. Practice begins Aug 5. Media day is Aug 8. Public scrimmage Aug 17, gates open 4 pm, practice at 5.— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) July 26, 2013
TODAY IS ANOTHER BIG RECRUITING WEEKEND IN IOWA CITY. For a complete list of who's visiting, the Cedar Rapids Gazette got the help of Hawkeye Report dot com. While the focus mostly is on 2014 prospects there will be the nation's #1 rated recruit (by ESPN) in attendance. Jashon Cornell will again make the trip down from Minneapolis to check out the Hawks.
- James Vandenberg, 4th string
- Riley Reiff filling Jeff Backus' role so quickly, they thought it was him
- Best Case/Worst Case: Iowa Hawkeyes
- Podcast: ‘On Iowa' with Ferentz audio
- ‘Targeting' rule definitely in the crosshairs
- Micah Hyde having a helluva first day
- Ricky Stanzi interview at training camp
- More about the new video equipment in Kinnick
- Gabe Olaseni catching eyes
- Iowa basketball #5 on the rise
- No. 31 - DE Faith Ekakitie
- Iowa football aims to reverse six-game losing streak
- Ferentz doesn't lose sleep over bottom-5 rank
- No. 30 - SS Nico Law
- No. 29 - C.J. Beathard