Iowa Football Recruiting: Hawkeyes' National Signing Day Wish List
Aside from all the other negative momentum the Iowa Hawkeyes football program is riding, CBS Sports' Dave Carey described their recruiting class as being "on shaky ground."
That was toward the end of the regular season, and since then, according to ESPN, the Hawks have parted ways with Des Moines defensive end prospect Trevon Young.
As recruiting season winds down to its culmination on national signing day (Feb. 6), there are still some opportunities for things to go right for Kirk Ferentz and his football program.
The following will look at the Hawks' top national signing day priorities and "wishes," in no particular order.
The only "wishes" considered were within the realm of possibility. It would be great if Rivals' No. 1 recruit in the nation, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, randomly spurned LSU, Georgia, 'Bama and most of the other teams in the country in order to sign with Iowa. But it's not going to happen.
The majority of the information about the recruits was gleaned from Rivals—as opposed to Scout or ESPN Recruiting—primarily because Rivals has a much more user-friendly search and database than the two other major sites.
Lastly, when I refer to "fallback" in terms of the recruit or the recruit's preferred school, I am referring to either the recruit or the school not being the preferred option. Rather, it is a backup or "fallback" choice.
All Current Verbals Commit to Iowa
This may seem obvious, and it is a "wish list" item for every program in the country.
Coming on the back of an unimpressive four-win season and with morale in Iowa City and among the fanbase as low as it's been in a while, the Hawkeyes program can't shoulder much more negative momentum.
Complicating the issue is the nature of Iowa recruiting. The state of Iowa is a talent-poor state. In effect, many Hawkeyes football players come from elsewhere. Iowa is a fallback school for many would-be student athletes who didn't receive offers from their home-state schools.
For instance, Iowa has four verbals from the state of Ohio. If any one of them were to receive an Ohio State offer tomorrow (thankfully for Iowa, none of them will), each of them would more than likely decommit on the spot.
That is the tenuous nature of recruiting to a second-tier team in a talent-poor state, and it is why it is necessary for Iowa to build relationships with out-of-state players and hold on to them.
David Kenney Has a Change of Heart
The first of those decommitments was David Kenney, who switched from Iowa to Indiana.
Losing on the recruiting trails to Michigan or Ohio State is one thing. Even losing commits to Wisconsin or Michigan State is understandable. But getting beaten by Indiana for a defensive end is humiliating.
However, there are extenuating circumstances.
As Jared Shanker of ESPN documented, Kenney was following his father to IU, as head Hoosier Kevin Wilson had hired Kenney's father.
A few months later, Kenney's father secured a position with Indiana State, and the recruitment seemed to open back up.
Hawkeyes coaches went to meet with the defensive end, but Rob Howe of HawkeyeInsider.com tweeted:
Hopefully, Kenney will come to realize that 2007 was the last year Indiana wasn't one of the worst two scoring defenses in the Big Ten. Then he'll realize that Indiana has put two defensive linemen in the NFL draft since 2002. In the same time, Iowa has put nine into the draft.
Next, he will see that since 1993, the Hoosiers have been to one bowl game. Iowa has been to 13 bowl games in the same stretch. Finally, he will see that Indiana has had six head coaches in the last 20 years, while Iowa has had two. And even if Wilson turns the Hoosier program around, in all probability, he would then take a job offer from a more prestigious school. By contrast, Kirk Ferentz, for better or worse, isn't going anywhere.
Then, maybe against all odds, Kenney will have a last-minute change of heart, because frankly, the Hawkeyes could really use him.
Snag Another Defensive End
As RossWB of Black Heart Gold Pants recently noted, much is made of the attrition Iowa has experienced at running back, but the defensive end position is also a mess. Moreover, it has been a mess for two years despite the presence of 2011 All-Big Ten second-teamer Broderick Binns.
The Hawkeye defense doesn't work without top-notch defensive ends, and right now, there doesn't look to be any on the roster.
It is doubtful that any but the country's best could come in and make an impact right away. Nevertheless, anyone would help, if not next season then in the future.
At this point, Daniel, a Rivals 4-star recruit, seems to have taken the Hawkeyes out of the picture, but Iowa is still plying for Dunbar's services.
At Least One More Fast Wide Receiver Who Can Play Davisball
As has been mentioned multiple times since Greg Davis was hired as the offensive coordinator (OC), he prefers different types of receivers than those Iowa previously employed.
He needs fast receivers who can catch the ball on the run and make plays after the catch. This is in comparison to the receivers former OC Ken O'Keefe worked with—big, physical receivers who made plays downfield and battled for the ball at its highest point.
The transition between the two has not been smooth, as evidenced by the Iowa receivers' play in 2012. However, the receivers the Hawkeyes are going after fit the mold Davis is looking for.
Current offers to uncommitted potential receivers include Tennessee's Cornelius Elder (listed as an athlete by Rivals), Houston's Devin Lauderdale, Pennsylvania's Brian Lemelle and Texas's Cameron Smith.
Elder and Lauderdale have trimmed their lists, and Iowa is not on either of their top fives.
On the other hand, according to Rivals, Lemelle and Smith are visiting Iowa City this weekend.
It would be great to get a tweet from recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson that there are two new (non-fallback) commits for a high-need position.
Commitment from Maryland's Jacquille Veii
Jacquille Veii is also visiting this weekend.
Rivals lists Veii as an athlete, but he will probably wind up at cornerback if he comes to Iowa.
This is an area of need for the Hawks, but not an area where the player in question has a great shot of coming in and landing on the depth chart.
More importantly, over the last few years, Iowa has done a great job of bringing Maryland recruits to Iowa City. Current Hawkeyes from the Old Line State include safety Nico Law, defensive lineman Darian Cooper, defensive back Jordan Lomax and linebacker Jim Poggi. All but Poggi project to be on 2013's two-deep depth chart.
That is how a program builds a pipeline. The more recruits a program gets from an area, the stronger the connections are to that area's high school coaches and athletic programs. The more this happens, the more likely the same program is to get more commits down the road.
Aside from being a solid player at a high-need position, Veii can further entrench the Iowa-Maryland pipeline, and that is how a program from a talent-poor state remains competitive.