Since the NCAA introduced an early signing period for college football, a staple of the Iowa coaching staff’s approach to recruiting has been to get players on campus early with the intention of having the majority of spots filled come December signing day. That has traditionally meant unofficial fall visits for high school juniors ahead of a single, but official visit weekend in the summer.
In recent years, that has been the final weekend in June, ensuring the Hawkeyes leave the last impression on seniors-to-be before the July dead period in recruiting. That’s proven effective with several commits coming out of the big visit weekend each of the past several years, leaving time for recruiting efforts to be more concentrated entering the fall. The Hawkeyes have capitalized with progressively better recruiting classes culminating in a top-25 class a year ago
We now find ourselves on the final weekend of June with the Iowa staff employing the same strategy that’s been so effective. The Hawkeyes were slated to have nearly 20 official visitors on campus this weekend with several more unofficial visitors.
Let’s! Freaking! Go! #Hawkeyes #Swarm22 https://t.co/toTS3nSskq— LeVar Woods (@LeVarWoods) June 25, 2021
But while this would typically be a weekend when the Hawkeyes could conservatively expect a handful of commitments, head coach Kirk Ferentz did his best to temper expectations during his media availability earlier this week.
That sentiment seems to be largely driven by the unique environment we find ourselves in this year. Recall that because of COVID-19, there were no junior visits. There was no junior day barbecue last summer. The players set to be on campus this weekend have largely never been to Iowa City. Those that have have either done so on their own dime without any guidance from coaches or players, or they haven’t been to campus in well over a year.
As our first year guys got here I was reminded what a strange year it was. We weren’t working last April and May, so you are having all these Zoom conversations with prospects. So we felt like we knew each other, but you never shook hands with them and now they are here, so that was strange. The other thing that dawned on me was we are would see a lot of interesting things, including players make what appear to be irrational decisions.
I think one of the thing that helps sell our program is players come to Kinnick Stadium as juniors and sophomores and we have been afforded that opportunity with the prospects we are talking to right now. I know this, if it were a prospects third or fourth time on campus this weekend we would be in a lot better shape. All that being said, last year was unusual and this year no matter how it turns out, it’s a long way to December and February. We try to be smart with the decisions we make. What I don’t want to do is do things to do things. We will make up for it next year and we will have good stories on this year’s team too. It will work itself out, but my point is that maybe this year will be an even stranger year than last year.
The comments on decommitments and getting to signing day are an allusion to the events we’ve already seen begin to transpire. While the Hawkeyes were originally set to have nearly 20 official visitors this weekend, that list has dwindled. First to 17 and now we enter the big weekend with just 14 visitors officially on campus.
The reason? Prospects have been taking other official visits since things opened up June 1 and opposing coaches have been quick to apply pressure for early commitments. Just this week the Hawkeyes have seem a pair of top targets shut things down as tight end prospect Tommy McIntosh committed to Wisconsin and wide receiver Eian Pugh committed to Illinois. Both were set to be in town this weekend but have now cancelled their plans. The question will now be how many of these June commits who only took one or two visits will stay committed come signing day.
You can see the video of the full presser with Ferentz below.
Regardless of the tone the head man is trying to set, it’s hard not to feel a bit of excitement for Iowa’s prospects with so many visitors in town. The Hawkeyes typically site their biggest hurdle as getting that first visit with prospects often noting Iowa City was not at all what they expected.
The uncommitted visitors will no doubt have some help in learning about not only the campus, but also the program from the four committed players who will be in town visiting this weekend. That list includes defensive linemen Aaron Graves and Caden Crawford and offensive linemen Jack Dotzler and Kyle Krogh. Iowa’s other commit, Jayden Montgomery, is the only one not making the trek this weekend.
Here’s a look at the full list of visitors expected this weekend, according to Rivals.
Aidan Laughery - 5-foot-11, 186-pound RB from Gibson City, IL
Jacob Bostick - 6-foot-2, 165-pound WR from Palatine, IL
Micah Riley-Ducker - 6-foot-6, 235-pound TE from Bellevue, NE
Andrew Keller - 6-foot-6, 215-pound TE from Waunakee, WI
Carson Hinzman - 6-foot-5, 280-pound OL from Hammond, WI
Landen Livingston - 6-foot-5, 285-pound OL from Leo, IN
Brian Allen Jr. - 6-foot-4, 243-pound DE from Oakdale, CT
Chase Carter - 6-foot-6, 215-pound DE from Minneapolis, MN
Hunter Deyo - 6-foot-2, 292-pound DT from Council Bluffs, IA
Christion Stokes - 6-foot-1, 180-pound DB from Harper Woods, MI
Kale Krogh - 6-foot-6, 267-pound OL from Huxley, IA (Iowa commit)
Jack Dotzler - 6-foot-7, 265-pound OL from Waunakee, IA (Iowa commit)
Caden Crawford - 6-foot-5, 240-pound DE from Lansing, KS (Iowa commit)
Aaron Graves - 6-foot-5, 270-pound DL from Gowrie, IA (Iowa commit)
Xavier Nwankpa - 6-foot-2, 185-pound DB from Pleasant Hill, IA
Drew Stevens - 6-foot-1, 173-pound K from North Augusta, SC
Beyond those in town this weekend, it’s worth noting Iowa did have 2023 superstar offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor on campus earlier this week for yet another visit. He may have received some words of encouragement from a former Hawkeye as well.
Photos from Kadyn Proctor on his visit with the Iowa Hawkeyes today https://t.co/Erc9jDiwgC pic.twitter.com/naV8xb5lyd— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) June 25, 2021
Certainly no decision is expected from Proctor anytime soon, but despite the warnings from Coach Ferentz Iowa fans should keep their eyes peeled for multiple commitments from the other visitors scheduled to be in town this weekend. If not while in town, likely in the days that follow.