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Rallying the Troops: Black Heart Gold Pants on the State of Iowa Recruiting

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It's OK, Kirk. I don't get it all either.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
It's OK, Kirk. I don't get it all either. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The latest in this series is that team many of us love (or, at least love to hate): the Iowa Hawkeyes. Planned Sick Days from the SBN Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants (you may have heard of it; they're kinda a big deal) was kind enough to answer some questions about Hawkeye recruiting, 2013-style.

BSD: What are your overall feelings of the 2013 class so far?

PSD: It’s done, per recruiting coach Eric Johnson. It’s a small class. There’s 16 or so verbal commits, but I think Iowa adds two to three more recruits before signing day. It feels like an Iowa class. By that, I mean it’s mostly made up of three-star recruits with a four-star or two. There’s also the two-star recruits in which Iowa beat out a handful of MAC schools. Iowa addressed some depth for the second year in-a-row at the defensive line. They also snagged their usual QB, two OL and a three defensive backs. Iowa still has yet to add a running back and I suspect they will before February. It’s a good class and will probably will rank in the 30-40ish range around the recruiting sites. That’s about normal, I think.

What areas/position groups do you think are most important for the 2013 class? How is this class measuring up to this so far?

The defensive line is perhaps the most important. Attrition at the position left Iowa thin in 2011 and again it’s an issue this year. The staff did a great job of addressing this in the 2012 class by signing Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson and they should contribute next season and beyond. With most college teams running some version of the spread offense, teams need to have depth at the defensive line. Iowa has a verbal commit from David Kenney, Nathan Bazata and Brant Gressel.

There’s also Trevon Young, of Des Moines Lincoln, who might be a defensive end recruit but there’s a possible issue with his scholarship offer. Young was arrested with a group of peers a month ago and since coaches can’t discuss recruits there’s no way, unless Young publicly makes a statement, we know if his offer is still there.

On the other side of the ball, I must mention running back. The curse is real; AIRBHG exists. Hello!? Running backs? Iowa? Maybe?

What recruit in the 2013 class are you most excited about and why?

I’ll throw out Jon Wisniewski, but only because he plays for my high school alma mater. He’s the first West Des Moines Dowling prospect to accept a scholarship to Iowa since Ross Verba. So there’s that.

I’ll add Nic Shimonek, QB from Corsicana, Texas. I add Nic because he is a Greg Davis recruit. Davis still has contacts in Texas and his name still carries some weight despite being demoted/resigning from the Longhorns offensive coordinator position. Davis has coached talented signal callers and I’m interested to see how his choice for QB stacks up with the others on the roster next fall.

Who do you think is the top target left for Iowa?

There’s a possibility that Laquon Treadwell may visit this fall. He’s friends with freshman Maurice Fleming but I don’t think Iowa has a chance there. It’s probably Berkley Edwards, running back from Chelsea, Michigan. Why Edwards? The AIRBHG thing. Why Iowa? Berkley is the brother of former Michigan great wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Braylon was, of course, coached at Michigan by current Iowa wide receivers coach Erik Campbell.

Ferentz (and the Iowa program in general) has a history of "coaching up" lower starred players to be, at the least, a dangerous team every year. From a recruiting standpoint, how do yout hink the Iowa staff measures up in the Big Ten? What do you think can be/should be done to compete more on the trail with the Ohio States and Michigans in the country? Is that even a concern?

I think the new practice facility, which is gigantic by the way, will help Iowa keep up with the upper half of the Big Ten. There’s also the growing list of Iowa alumni now collecting paychecks in professional football leagues. Iowa will never pull in Top 10 recruiting classes; it’s just the nature of this thing. The state of Iowa lacks a strong recruiting base. Iowa has success when Illinois’ schools and Notre Dame are in transition. They do well going into Chicago and snagging a Jaleel Johnson or Bryan Bulaga but that’s not an every year situation. It’s cyclical in the surrounding states and the one constant is the state of Iowa’s lack of Division I talent.

It’s not a concern, at least to me. Iowa’s coaching staff has proven over time they can spot and develop talent. Current defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Phil Parker recruited, or at least coached, Jovon Johnson and Bob Sanders at Iowa. They both were two-star guys that were later named Defensive Player of the Year in the Canadian Football League (JJ) and the National Football League (Bob Sanders).

That seems to be the standard Iowa recruiting "diamond in the rough" story. It’s a cliche. Not every two-star kid becomes an NFL legend. There’s certainly a share of recruiting misses too. For Iowa, it’s about finding the balance. Each year’s class has to have a few diamonds because there will be attrition and underperforming players

After this year, Penn State and Iowa won't meet again until 2015. What class of 2012 or 2013 recruits do you foresee having an impact that far down the road?

I can’t forecast much for the 2013 class because they still haven’t signed that letter of intent and I’ve only had YouTube highlight videos to watch. I have seen the 2012 class on the field so I’ll focus on them. I think Iowa’s 2012 class of wide receivers is strong and two, Maurice Fleming and Trevaun Smith, may play this season. Defensive backs Sean Draper and Kevin Buford were getting significant reps. Draper was a three-star and Buford a two-star recruit. They both may play this season and be impact players down the road.

I’d love to mention Greg Garmon, Michael Malloy and Barkley Hill at running back but if they make it that far that would be a miracle. Ryan Ward is already working with the second team at tackle and might be an NFL draft pick in four years. Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie are physically ready for the defensive line but it’s a matter of learning the position and playing the speed of the Big Ten game. Finally, Conner Kornbrath might be Iowa’s starting punter this season. Yes, Kornbrath. He’s a big kid with a big leg and you know how much Ferentz loves to punt.

Thanks again to PSD for the insight! For more info on Iowa football, recruiting, and anything else you could possibly want to know about the Hawkeyes, visit or follow him on twitter at @PlannedSickDays.

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