Although the 2010 season was disappointing for Iowa football fans, the offseason has finally arrived and given fans a new year to look forward to.
With an already solid group of young players on the roster, the Hawkeyes have hauled in an impressive recruiting class ranked No. 29 in the nation by scout.com.
Among the 20-man class are three four-star commits and 14 three-star commits. And although Kirk Ferentz doesn't put very much stock in star ratings, it's clear Iowa has a fair amount of talent coming to Iowa City next fall.
Let's take a look at the top 10 recruits in Iowa's 2011 class.
Iowa has often been called a tight end factory, and rightfully so, as the last seven Hawkeye tight ends have been drafted and Iowa succeeds with its "next man in" mentality.
Some of the best tight ends in the country are attracted to Iowa City because, in the new age of spread offenses, Iowa still uses its tight end as a receiver and sometimes employs two tight end sets.
Duzey is fast and athletic, and at 6'4", has the frame needed to be a successful Big Ten tight end. At 215 pounds, he needs to put on some weight and will likely spend a year redshirting and in Chris Doyle's strength and conditioning program. He will also have the opportunity to learn under Iowa's already deep, veteran unit.
Duzey was very productive last season for Athens High School, collecting 535 yards and six touchdowns on 37 receptions. Within a few years, he should be a major contributor for college football's "Tight End U."
Like Duzy, McMinn has a tremendous upside because of his massive frame. At 6'7", he has the potential to play a number of positions besides defensive end, including defensive tackle and somewhere on the offensive line.
Iowa needs some help on the defensive line next season, with three seniors departing, so there is a possibility that McMinn could contribute next season. However, at 220 pounds, he could definitely benefit from a redshirt year working on his size and strength.
It's clear, though, Kirk Ferentz has a tremendous young athlete who could play a major role at a variety of positions before his eligibility is up.
McMinn and Raymon are toss-ups for this spot, but I put Raymon ahead because his size is more college-ready right now.
At 6'5", 235, Raymon has a tremendous upside, and, like McMinn, would benefit from a redshirt year in Iowa's strength and conditioning program.
Raymon is athletic and played tight end in addition to defensive end in high school, and because of his size, could be used at a number of positions for the Hawkeyes.
He could be used on the inexperienced defensive line if needed in 2011 but looks more like a player the Hawkeyes can lean on to play a vital role in the future.
Like Wisconsin, Iowa is known for producing solid, in-state offensive linemen, and Blythe could be the next NFL player to come out of Kirk Ferentz's offensive line factory.
In high school, Blythe played on both the offensive and defensive lines, proving he has athleticism to go along with a 6'3", 275 frame.
Iowa's offensive line should be good next year, but like Blythe, it lacks size. He would benefit from a year in Chris Doyle's strength and conditioning program before seeing the field but has adequate size to be a productive player in the Big Ten right away.
The Hawkeyes will need to fill in an offensive guard spot in 2011, and if he is needed for a unit that was injury-plagued last season, Blythe could see the field next fall.
At 6'5", 230, Hamilton has the potential to be yet another NFL tight end to pass through Iowa City. He will likely redshirt for a year because of Iowa's depth at his position but seems to have all the physical tools to be successful for the Hawkeyes in the future.
Hamilton is very athletic to go along with his massive frame, posting a 4.7 second 40-yard dash. He also has good hands and is a solid receiving tight end, something the Hawkeyes have made a living off during Kirk Ferentz's tenure.
Scout ranks the three-star prospect as the No. 17 tight end in the 2011 class, and his physical skills point to him being a major contributor for Iowa in the future.
Grant was the Hawkeyes' first commit in the 2011 class and chose Iowa over a trio of Big East schools—Connecticut, Syracuse and Rutgers.
The wide receiver is ranked No. 117 in the country at his position, so such a high ranking on this list may be surprising. However, with all-time leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and teammate Colin Sandeman graduating, wide receiver could be an Achilles heal for the Hawkeyes in 2011.
This could present an opportunity for Grant to gain experience right away.
At 6'2", 190 pounds, he has adequate size and may have a chance to learn of the job, which would pay off later in his career. Marvin McNutt and Keenan Davis will be the lead receivers next season, but Grant could receive an opportunity to earn playing time soon after arriving on campus.
Jake Rudock might have been the most publicized Iowa recruit this season, ranking as the No. 29 quarterback in the country and leading perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
At 6'2", 185, Rudock is considered a pro-style quarterback, which is one of the main reasons he chose Iowa but has the ability to move around in the pocket. He is very athletic and is always a threat to run—something Ricky Stanzi and successor James Vandenberg are not.
Rudock is also a stats machine. He passed for 2,784 yards in 2010, throwing 26 touchdowns and only three interceptions in the process.
Expect him to redshirt as a freshman, considering the quarterback depth in front of him. However, by at least his junior year, he could be leading the Hawkeyes under center.
A four-star recruit from Forestville, MD, Law has a good chance to receive playing time during 2011. He has great size at 6'3", 190, and will be an option for an Iowa team looking to replace two three-year starters at safety.
Law is ranked as the No. 24 corner in the 2011 class and is possibly more physically gifted than the Hawkeyes last two safeties—Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood.
He is already decent sized but will definitely benefit from time in the strength and conditioning program.
While Law probably won't start right away, expect him to play an active role fairly early in the season, especially if Iowa has trouble with its new, inexperienced safeties.
Walsh ranked as the No. 2 offensive guard in the country this year and the four-star prospect received scholarship offers to 17 major college football programs.
He is already college-ready, boasting a 6'3", 275 frame and is very strong and athletic.
Because Iowa must replace an offensive guard in 2011, expect Walsh to be given the chance to play early in his career. He and Blythe will compete and should make each other even better.
Like Blythe, Walsh could always benefit from some time in the weight room, especially in a league full of massive defensive linemen. However, if he is needed, he has the tools to be a solid Big Ten player right away.
Coe's commitment has been hailed by many Iowa fans and writers as one of the biggest during Kirk Ferentz's tenure.
The four-star recruit is ranked as the No. 6 running back in the country, and at 6'3", 240 pounds, is described by Scout as "a running back in a defensive end's body."
To go along with his massive frame, Coe has tremendous speed, boasting a 4.67 second 40-yard dash.
Marcus Coker will likely be Iowa's starter next season after a tremendous 219-yard performance in the Insight Bowl against Missouri.
However, as Iowa has learned the hard way, there is always room for more running backs. The Hawkeyes started 2010 with a trio of solid running backs, but because of transfers, injuries and suspensions, none ended up playing in the bowl game.
Coker and Coe are both big backs who will complement each other very well and wear down opposing defenses, just like Shonn Greene did in 2008.
And behind an experienced offensive line, Iowa could have one of the country's best running back duos in 2011, if both can stay healthy.