A little over two weeks ago, I was sitting in a hospital room at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. I was staring down at my newborn son, our second, and everything felt surreal. I’ll spare you all the sappy details, but seeing your child for the first time is truly a life-changing moment. I thought it might be different the second time around. It wasn’t. And, just like with the first, I felt I had a new perspective on things. In the shadows of Kinnick Stadium, here I was thinking perhaps Iowa Football didn’t mean as much to me as it had just a few hours prior. As I awoke the next morning to an Overreaction Monday post, my newfound perspective was telling me perhaps I shouldn’t be spending my Mondays overreacting any more. Perhaps I should let Iowa sports be something fun that I enjoy and am not so heavily invested in.
Then I caught a tiny portion of the Spring Game and nearly lost my mind. I brought myself back from the brink and remained composed. Then I found myself glued to the TV for hours and hours Thursday night watching the NFL Draft. Same thing Friday night. And then half the day Saturday, right to the point where the last of the Hawkeyes expected to be drafted finally had his name called. And now I’m back, baby!
Listen, I love my wife and my kids. They mean the world to me. But if having two children has taught me nothing in this short time, it’s that when you add wonderful things to your life it doesn’t mean you have to love something else less. Your love multiplies and I sure as hell don’t want to live in a world where I’m not emotionally invested in Iowa athletics. They’ve given me way too much joy and entertainment (and heartburn and heartache) over the years to let it just be a casual hobby. And I really don’t think any level of effort on my part is going to stop my gut reactions to spring games or my mindless hours railing against NFL teams’ front office idiocy for not drafting Hawkeyes. So let’s get to back overreacting again, shall we?
I don’t have much to say here. I mean, that went basically as we had all predicted, right? Desmond King, former Thorpe Award winner and All-American was a borderline first-rounder who went in the second. Jaleel Johnson came off the board in the late second and even C.J. Beathard and George Kittle got to hear their names called on day three.
Wait, that isn’t how it went down? Oh come on!
I mean, congrats to C.J. for going to the San Francisco 49ers as the first Hawkeye off the board in the 3rd round, but how the hell did he go before Desmond King? And not just right before, but two whole rounds before King? Shouts to the Los Angeles Chargers (smh at them being in LA and the Rams can kiss my rear end for moving there) for finally taking King in the fifth. But I think it’s time we talk about this.
Desmond King was a Jim Thorpe Award winner in 2015 and a consensus All-American. Had he come out last year, I don’t think there’s any way he falls out of the first round barring some injury, off-field news or a seriously bad combine day. But he took his mom’s advice, helped Iowa win some more football games, was named an All-American again and found himself falling all the way to the fifth. So what changed?
Not a lot if we’re being honest. Teams stopped throwing at him. He literally shut down the entire side of the field for roughly two years. He was in Tyler Boyd’s pocket, picking it twice, a year ago. Now Boyd’s in the league. King didn’t let ISU’s Allen Lazard make any plays of consequence in a game when the Cyclones were getting trounced and forced to throw. Those two Michigan WRs, Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, drafted this weekend? They combined for 3 catches and 35 yards against Iowa this year. Sure, his INT numbers were down, but that was to be expected. I mean, people have to throw your way for you to make a play on the ball.
If you want to tell me he isn’t fast enough to play corner at the next level, I’m going to disagree with you, point to a bunch of film (including the games noted above) and then probably just let it slide. But did that change from last year? Did that change from a month or two ago when he was projected as a second rounder, potentially even sliding into the late first? N. O. NO. It seriously baffles me. Give me the guy who has shown he can overcome his physical limitations and beat better athletes on the field over the guy who has spent a career underachieving despite all their physical gifts.
Maybe that’s why I’m a random guy sitting behind a keyboard and not an NFL GM or scout. We’ll see.
The worst of it was watching the impact on King and his family. By all accounts, they’re good people and we all have heard we have his mom to thank for buying us all an extra year watching him for Iowa. So watching him slide after seeing an inside look into his family at Kinnick during the first two rounds was rough. It’s pretty clear they were expecting him to go much sooner and everyone was in a pretty celebratory mood.
We have a proposal in Iowa City! Desmond King's brother just popped the question at his draft party at Kinnick Stadium. pic.twitter.com/tz57i4pHod— Jordan Loperena (@JLope34) April 28, 2017
On Saturday, they gave up on watching from the stadium and apparently moved to a local eating/drinking establishment. It’s hard not to be excited about going to the NFL, but the mood was decidedly different. More relief than the pure joy we might’ve seen a day or two earlier. Either way, congrats to Desmond King.
Iowa DB Desmond King, Chargers. pic.twitter.com/90RXbjFxK4— Jordan Loperena (@JLope34) April 29, 2017
At the end of the day, we have further evidence Iowa is indeed an NFL factory. This year's marked the 40th year in a row the Hawkeyes had a player selected in the draft. Come to Iowa, work under Doyle, get a shot at the league. In addition to the aforementioned King and Beathard, Jaleel Johnson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth and George Kittle was taken by the Niners in the fifth.
That makes a total of 4 former Hawkeyes selected in the 2017 draft. We’ve also seen 4 added as undrafted free agents to date. Riley McCarron earned himself a spot with the Houston Texans after his impressive pro day performance. King’s former partner in the defensive backfield, Greg Mabin, was picked up by the Tamp Bay Buccaneers. And a pair of Hawkeyes, OL Cole Croston and RB LeShun Daniels Jr., were signed by the New England Patriots.
Congrats to all the former Hawkeyes. I’m currently seeking a new NFL team to root for following the Rams’ departure from St. Louis so perhaps one of these guys can give me a reason to make a decision. Probably not.
On to guys who are still wearing the black and gold.
OK, I admit it, I’m late to the party here. But cut me some slack, I was watching my wife do all the work of having a kid. So I need just a moment to touch on the current Iowa Football situation following the spring game. Here we go.
OH GOD THIS IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THOSE YEARS WHERE WE POTENTIALLY DON’T MAKE A BOWL GAME, ISN’T IT?!?!?!
The QB situation is a dumpster fire. Wiegers and Stanley looked equally brutal. The stat lines were (in my best Charles Barkley voice) turrible. They were the exact reason they don’t keep stats in the spring game.
If the top 2 QBs are done, as it appears (unofficial):— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) April 22, 2017
--Wiegers 11-for-19, 94 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
--Stanley 6-for-16, 17 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Now, I get it. It’s April. Both guys are competing for a starting spot for the first time (like actually competing for it, not just in theory). Both guys are learning a new offense. And there are serious issues at WR right now as well. But guys, those stats are brutal. A combined 17-35 (48.6%) for 1 TD and 3 INTs is going to lose a LOT of games.
I think it’ll improve. I think it has to. It can’t get much worse. But with both of them looking so bad, how is this not Stanley’s job? This is classic Kirk Ferentz at work. Rather than do what every armchair coach in the country would do and go with the younger guy, who you burned a RS on last year (there’s a side rant here - let’s go grab a drink), you are saying this is an open competition and you would “have to flip a coin if you played today.” The folks at HawkeyeNation put forth an interesting theory on a recent podcast that I pray is what’s happening here: perhaps this is just KF/BF/KOK keeping Wiegers from transferring by leading him to believe he has a legitimate shot at starting so they have a quality backup in case Stanley stinks it up. I hope. But my brain is telling me Kirk ain’t that wiley and we are just walking into a train wreck.
Speaking of train wrecks, check out this receiving core. The meerkat, Matt VandeBerg, is still out of commission. Iowa fans everywhere better be praying he’s at 100% all of 2017 or this group is going to be a serious black eye. The other returning starter, Jerminic Smith, didn’t participate due to academic issues and rumors are now swirling that he may not make it back. I don’t think there’s anything to the rumor as it sounds like his spot is there come summer provided he gets his schoolwork straightened out, but it’s not like it’s his first semester in Iowa City. If his issues are just now surfacing, this could be trouble. Again, get on your knees and pray to your favorite deity (unless it’s one who shall not be named - we could be looking at a name change if Wadley makes it through the season unscathed). Everyone has been raving about JUCO walk-on Nick Easley. That’s all well and good, but I’m still gonna be a littler nervous if we get to September and he’s still being touted as the #1 guy. And I think incoming freshman Brandon Smith could be a real stud (there are three other WRs coming in who could also be great, but I really like the tools I see with Smith), but he’s still a true freshman. We know how KF feels about freshmen playing in general: if they do the small things well, block, secure the football and know the playbook, they’ll get time - but those aren’t exactly givens.
So what’s a new offensive coordinator to do when he has a shortage of playmakers on the outside?
I had Iowa for 98 plays last night. 53 of those included a fullback or multiple tight ends.— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) April 22, 2017
What would Iowa Football be without fullbacks or multiple tight ends?
We didn’t see much of it in the open practice or the spring game, but I’m still holding out some hope that Brian can find a way to utilize Wadley in space to make up for any shortcomings in the WR and QB group. We haven’t had a guy with the home run potential of Wadley in a while, folks. BF has mentioned a couple times they want to get him out in space and maybe even line him up there with another RB in the backfield. That sounds like a dream, but I’ve been led astray by the Ferentz family before.
To Kirk’s credit, he seemed to be OK with more touches for Akrum in the passing game as the season went along last year. So maybe there’s a chance Brian’s being straight forward. I hope so. And I hope they find a way to get the ball out of the QB’s hands quickly to him, as well as guys like Fant, VandeBerg and the Smiths (if they’re both there). And I hope that all doesn’t come at the expense of taking deep shots in play-action or straight up in non-obvious situations. Hope is a beautiful thing.
Much like the draft and the spring game, last week brought some ups and some downs for the Hawkeyes on the recruiting trail. Iowa Football added three commitments over the course of a few days. Following the spring game, Iowa notched a pair of commitments. Wisconsin RB Henry Geil joined the class of 2018 and Iowa OL Ezra Miller became the first member of the class of 2019. Geil is widely thought to have been the top RB on KF and staff’s board for this class. Hawkeye fans with decent memories may recall a certain other RB from Wisconsin who once pledged to Iowa and ended up backing out once the home state school came calling. He turned out OK for the Badgers... But, according the HawkeyeNation, there’s nothing to fear except fear itself with Geil.
“I’m not Melvin. What Melvin did is his business, but his business isn’t mine. I’m a Hawkeye 100 percent. I’m from Florida originally. Wisconsin isn’t my dream school. I don’t even have a dream school. The Hawkeye fans can relax. I’m here to stay.”
Good to hear. And the good news was needed.
Just a few days after Geil and Miller joined the Hawkeyes, the first commit in the class of 2018, also from the state of Wisconsin, went back on his word. LB Mike Bruner de-committed on Tuesday, bringing the class of 2018 back to 3 members.
The good times kept rolling on Thursday when the Hawkeyes lost a member of their class of 2017. Kicker Cole Hahn was set to walk on this year, but was offered a scholarship by Michigan State and decided to join his teammate Rocky Lombardi and play for the Spartans.
Such is life, I suppose.
But just as quickly as the worm turned for the worse, so it turned back over the weekend. Iowa brought their class of 2018 back to 4 members when Indianapolis athlete Tyrone Tracy committed to the Hawkeyes. If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s a look at his announcement video.
Not exactly what we’re used to seeing out of guys Kirk Ferentz has invited to Iowa City. He seems to have a bit of flash and plenty of athleticism. Those are things I think the roster could use a bit of.
On the basketball side of recruiting, we’ve known for a while now that Fran McCaffery’s squad was in a bit of a strange position with his son Connor in the fold for the class of 2017. He’s a borderline top 100 recruit in basketball, but also a very good baseball player with a shot at making the majors at some point. With two open scholarships and three players committed, Connor cleared things up last week when he announced he would be walking on to the hoops AND baseball teams, but taking a redshirt in basketball his freshman year. The redshirt year will allow him to further explore his baseball career, while also helping to space the classes for Fran and giving him an extra year to play with his younger brother, Pat, who is a top 50 recruit in the class of 2019.
This is the plan for next year‼️ ⚾️ GO HAWKS I'm excited to get started. Let's go to work pic.twitter.com/wzhpDGgYQs— Connor McCaffery (@connor_m30) April 28, 2017
Those other two members of the class of 2017 are also borderline top 100 guys and look pretty damn good in their own rights. Jarrod Uthoff clone Jack Nunge finished second in the Mr. Basketball race for the state of Indiana last week. The guy who topped him? McDonald’s All-American Kris Wilkes who is headed to UCLA. Pretty good company for the future Hawkeye.
Finally, because it’s Monday, we all need a laugh. The NFL Draft gave us plenty to laugh at, so we’re coming full circle here.
First, Philly knows nothing if not how to boo.
Philly booed the heck out of Roger Goodell pic.twitter.com/lBUdSi3uwy— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 28, 2017
NFL Draft: Bears trade up and give up 3 third round picks and a 4th to 49ers for 2nd overall pick to select QB Mitch Trubisky— Ottie Schefter (@OttieMo) April 28, 2017
The Bears gave Mike Glennon $18M guaranteed and a month and a half later used 3 picks to move up 1 slot to take Mitch Trubisky.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 28, 2017
At least he seems like a class act.....
Now, I’m sure it’s tough to get up in front of all those booing Philly fans with the lights and the cameras, but man people were struggling to get out their message at the draft.
Except this guy, wow.
And finally, perhaps ol’ Roger deserves the boos.
Wow, man, just wow.
Happy Monday. Go Hawks. And Niners. And Vikings. And Chargers. And Patriots. And Texans. And Bucs. And about a dozen other NFL teams with Hawkeyes already sitting on their rosters. It’s good to be back!