Just one year ago, Kirk Ferentz told reporters that he was effectively shutting down Iowa's recruiting of the state of Florida. The Hawkeyes hadn't landed a productive recruit from Florida since the early 2000s -- Jake Rudock hadn't played yet -- and the coaching staff's connections led far more to the Mid-Atlantic than the Deep South. Iowa doesn't generally have the national prominence or the resources to effectively recruit nationwide, and the focus was moving away from the Sunshine State.
It was a bit peculiar, then, that Iowa was getting an unofficial visit this weekend from Leesburg, Florida-based wide receiver Adrian Falconer. It was a true surprise that Falconer committed while in town. Falconer is a 6'1, 190-pound wideout with a three-star rating from 247 Sports and a two-star grade at Rivals. His reported offer sheet included Cincinnati, Southern Miss, Marshall, Florida Atlantic, and a handful of other Conference USA/Sun Belt programs. He definitely has some wheels, if his highlight tape is any indication.
On its face, this looks a lot like the other Florida projects that Iowa's landed in recent years, a skill position guy with a modest rating from the scouts and no real competition from other programs of Iowa's caliber. In the recent past, these gambles haven't worked, but there are some additional factors here that provide room for optimism. For one, Falconer was targeted by Iowa's two best recruiters, Chris White and Bobby Kennedy. While, at least according to Rivals, neither White nor Kennedy has ever recruited a player out of Florida, both clearly have an eye for talent. Having Falconer's position coach involved in the decision obviously helps, as well. Finally, unlike some other Iowa commits from Florida, Falconer is playing some serious competition; Leesburg plays in Florida's second-highest class, and made the state playoffs last season.
Iowa's track record with Florida two-stars has been so poor in recent years that it's difficult not to look at this commit with some skepticism, but we'll save that for tomorrow. Today, Iowa's at ten commitments for the Class of 2015, and Florida might again be open for business.