Iowa signs 21 to letters of intent
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has never paid much attention to
That’s a trait that could serve him well this week.
The Hawkeyes announced their latest class on Wednesday, a group
that recruiting services have rated near the bottom of the Big Ten.
The 21-player class is ranked 52nd nationally by both Rivals.com
and Scout.com, though Rivals has the class slotted eighth in the
league while Scout ranks it 10th out of the 12 Big Ten schools.
Those aren’t the kind of numbers likely to excite a fan base
that watched Iowa finish last season with six straight losses and a
4-8 record. But coach Kirk Ferentz said he couldn’t tell much
difference between this year’s class and last year’s – which was
ranked in the top half of the league.
Ferentz also doesn’t think the disappointing 2012 season had
much, if any, impact, on this latest class.
”It’s funny. I think players to look much broader than one
season or one game,” Ferentz said. ”We felt awfully positive
about selling a lot of things about this program … so I’m not
sure it really impacted us all that much.”
After a dismal season throwing the ball, the Hawkeyes announced
on Monday week that wide receivers coach Erik Campbell has left the
program. Though Iowa has yet to name Campbell’s replacement, it
loaded up on receivers.
Iowa signed five wideouts, including a rare junior college
transfer who could see immediate playing time in Damond Powell and
a back, St. Louis product Johnathan Parker, who could also line up
as a receiver.
Powell, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound junior, averaged an astounding 30
yards per catch on 41 receptions last season at Snow (Utah)
Community College. He could get plenty of touches in 2013 for a
team bereft of playmakers.
Ferentz identified Powell as a player most likely to jump into a
starting role, while also acknowledging that a running back could
emerge given the program’s recent poor history at that spot.
”That showed up last year. Just an area that we needed to
fortify a little bit and improve on,” Ferentz said about wide
receiver. ”They’re not only guys that could get open, but guys we
felt could catch the ball and then hopefully do something with it
The quarterback in this year’s class is Texas-born Nic Shimonek,
who is 6-foor-4 and threw for 2,714 yards and 33 touchdowns and
rushed for 850 more as a senior.
Shimonek will almost certainly redshirt because sophomore Jake
Rudock, junior college transfer Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman
C.J. Beathard are ahead of him on the depth chart.
Though Shimonek has put up big prep numbers as a runner, Ferentz
said that offensive coordinator Greg Davis was sold after seeing
his passing skills in person.
”He’s a good athlete…got good height, good size. The first
thing that comes to mind I think is that he’s a thrower,” Ferentz
The eight new players currently pegged for defense include a
pair of 280-pound linemen in Nathan Bazata and Brant Gressel –
though Ferentz acknowledged he would have liked to have found
Iowa also found three linebackers to help replace three senior
starters at that spot; John Kenny, Decorah’s Josey Jewell and
Reggie Spearman, and three defensive backs; Malik Rucker, Solomon
Warfield and Desmond King, who are all at least 5-foot-11.
Though the rankings for this year’s class appear down, few
coaches from power conferences have had more success than Ferentz
in developing unheralded recruits.
Part of the reason Iowa doesn’t put as much into recruiting
rankings is because the Hawkeyes pride themselves on being a
developmental program – and it should have enough upperclassmen
depth to allow this group to develop at its own pace.
The Hawkeyes will have eight starters back on offense and seven
on defense. The healthy return of players like offensive lineman
Brandon Scherff and running back Mark Weisman could dramatically
alter the look of a team that finished with six straight
But in the past few seasons, Iowa has also had to lean on
freshmen a bit earlier than they would have liked.
So there’s a decent chance the Hawkeyes might need a few of
these newcomers to emerge ahead of schedule – and above their
”There are a lot of guys with records and ability. But it’s
what they do once they take that next step,” Ferentz said. ”It’s
really how the guys meet the challenge once they get to college,
how they embrace all the hard work that’s going to be