Hello and welcome to Lunch Links, where we rewind what we may have missed in Hawkeye coverage over the past couple days.
First off, Kirk Ferentz addressed the media yesterday in regards to National Signing Day. I already picked out the best sound bites for you. Let’s get to it.
So much digital ink has been spilled here and elsewhere about the IOWA WAY and WIN. GRADUATE. DO IT RIGHT. That whole philosophy has been beaten to death by fans and coaches that it’s really all we know when it comes to Hawkeye mantras. So it’s no surprise then that Ferentz opened up his presser with a recitation of the IOWA WAY when discussing what he looks for in football recruits:
But I think a lot of things have stayed the same, and certainly what we look for, hasn’t changed an awful lot. We’re starting to see that the player has requisite talent and ability to be a good football player. We believe strongly in more significant the fact that we’re looking for guys are going to be good teammates in the program, be successful students, and also be people that are going to go out and contribute in their community and be positive community members. Those things are really important. And bottom line is it’s great to have a player that’s skilled, but if they don’t have the character to be successful it won’t mean much. We try to be mindful of that whenever we go out.
Kirk gets a little inside baseball-y with his answer on the recruitment of two particular players here, but I like it!
Q. How did you find McDonald and Merriweather?
Jayden is a guy we looked at and he committed to another school back in the fall. So really kind of fell off our group, if you will. And the timing was good for us, because with the early signing date we noticed that he wasn’t signed. So that to me indicated that he wasn’t committed. So that thing opened up again, for whatever reason, and we were able to get involved and I think everything just worked out really positively, and he and his mom were up here a couple of weekends ago, and had a great visit, and felt comfortable with everything they were exposed to. I’m so appreciative of the NCAA now, a lot of parents can travel, probably should have done it a long time ago. That really helps in recruiting when parents and prospects are together. So it worked out well for us, and we’re really happy about that.
And then Kaevon is a little different, we’ve been watching him for a long time. We didn’t say much about it, and pretty discrete about getting in and out of there, and he was limited with his surgery. He’s a guy that we had a lot of strong feelings for. And quite frankly he’s probably a better prospect on the basketball court than the football field, but we feel he can do both, but just an impressive young man.
So Jayden McDonald was committed to another school, but Iowa still pursued him? Got it. Snooooooooort.
Kaevon Merriweather is an interesting case. I trust Kirk when he says Iowa has been watching him from a distance for awhile, and his basketball ability is an interesting wrinkle. He’s one player I’m going to keep an eye on throughout his tenure.
Status update on running back Toks Akinribade:
Q. You have three running backs, do you have any update on Toks?
We’re still waiting, still working on that. He’s back in school. And got through the semester last semester, was the first concern, he missed a couple of finals. His grades are in, he’s doing well. Not full speed right now. That’s going to be a medical -- there are a lot of steps he has to go through.
Iowa has four scholarship running backs on the roster including Toks, five if you count Henry Geil, the lone running back recruit of this class. Ivory Kelly-Martin and Toren Young are poised to take the lion’s share of carries next year, but after that, Kyshaun Bryan, Toks and Geil all seem to have an even chance of seeing the field.
Status update on Adrian Falconer and Lucas LeGrand, who left the program a couple weeks ago:
Q. Falconer and LeGrand, are those guys out of the program?
Lucas is going to graduate. And to my knowledge is not going to go on to play. I think Adrian is looking to move on and play somewhere else.
LeGrand probably would have seen some playing time, or even pushed for a starting role this season. But hey that’s football.
And finally, Kirk sheds some light on what it’s like to have great success stories in the program, and how it helps him as a recruiter:
Q. What is your true sense of having high profile guys like Desmond and Josh has opened doors recruiting defensive backs?
It certainly doesn’t hurt. My favorite part of those guys is their story. A year ago at this time Josh had started one game in his career, to see all those neat things happen to them. I think what it tells prospects is that if you come here and put the effort in and have the right attitude, good things are possible. But I’ve always believed that successful people can come from anywhere, small towns, big towns. They don’t all have to go to Harvard. I know it’s a great school, I’m not knocking Harvard. Not every famous person went to Harvard. That’s the great thing in life, everybody has opportunity. Desmond’s case, first game of his career he’s in the ballgame, he never looked back. He never came out. Josh is just the opposite, once everything broke open for him. I think that helps with certainly the position recruits. But we always tell those stories to everybody. There are opportunity here. If we invite you to come here, it doesn’t matter how you get here, you’re in the program and what do you want to do with that opportunity? How hard are you going to run with it. The five guys at the top have commonalities, no matter how they got here, they all shared certain straits, and those traits serve you well. More importantly when you’re an adult, it’s really the same story.
Iowa’s newest assistant coach, Derrick Foster, also addressed the media yesterday for the first time. We don’t have a transcript of that interaction, but the trusty Iowa press corp was on the scene:
Foster, who coached running backs for the majority of his professional career at Samford and Northwester State University, will do the same in Iowa City. Brian Ferentz is switching over to coach tight ends, which he did for the New England Patriots, as you all know.
Foster met with Ferentz last season when Iowa had two positions open on staff. Those jobs went to Kelton Copeland and Tim Polasek. Foster, who’s from Goshen, Ala., said he has ties to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana. Iowa has had a tough time making inroads in those states, and Foster will likely wage some recruiting battles on Iowa’s behalf south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Foster told Marc Morehouse he was first exposed to Iowa by Seth Wallace, who he worked with at Valdosta State. The two kept in contact, and Wallace recommended him to Ferentz. I really like what I’m hearing out Foster in his first presser, and I look forward to seeing what he brings to this staff.
There will be links
- Hey, remember that HOA lawsuit Kirk Ferentz was named in? Well, it’s going away.
- Former Iowa running backs coach Chris White is heading to the Detroit Lions to coach tight ends. White was a special teams coach for the Vikings before heading to Iowa City. I look forward to his welcome back in the NFC North.
- SMOKE EM IF YOU GOT EM ... Iowa football’s spring game will be on Friday, April 20 this year. Yes, that’s 4/20. Insert joke he ... oh I already did. March 21 commences spring camp; there will be no Des Moines open practice this year, for some reason.
- Here’s our roundup of the five players signed yesterday, ICYMI.
- James Daniels, Josh Jackson, Akrum Wadley, Josey Jewell and Sean Welsh were all invited to the NFL combine.
- The latest mock draft from CBS has Josh Jackson going No. 4 overall to the Browns. Please don’t ruin our players, Cleveland.
- An excerpt from an upcoming book about The Wire. Excellent read for fans.
And that’s that. Go Hawks.