Feb. 6, 2004
Coach Kirk Ferentz introduced Hawkeye fans to the newest members of his 2004 Outback Bowl Champion-team Wednesday, the signing day for 20 standout recruits from across the country.
“I’m very pleased with the class,” he said. “Everybody in the country always feels that way on signing day, but I feel good about this class.”
While the Hawkeyes couldn’t snag any members of analyst Tom Lemming’s Top 100 Prospect list, Ferentz and his team were able to bring in five players ranked in the top 25 for their respective positions.
“I’m not sure where we rank. I’m not big in the rankings,” Ferentz said. “I think the recruiting rankings are a lot like preseason rankings in that they’re great to get discussion going, but I’m not sure how important they are. I really believe and have always believed that the end of the process is what’s important.”
Ferentz says he tells new recruits that their last three years is the most important part of their careers, not their first three months.
“The bottom line is that this group possesses the mentality, the character, and the attitude that’s necessary and required to be successful in the Big Ten and compete at a championship level,” Ferentz said. “I think we did a nice job, and we’re really anxious to greet these guys in August.”
“The bottom line is that this group possesses the mentality, the character, and the attitude that’s necessary and required to be successful in the Big Ten and compete at a championship level. I think we did a nice job, and we’re really anxious to greet these guys in August.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
Iowa’s top recruit appears to be inside linebacker Kyle Williams, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound native of Bolingbrook, IL. According to Lemming, Williams ranks ninth in the nation for his position, and Ferentz did not hesitate to call him a “headliner.”
“He got a lot of notoriety and committeed to us at a fairly early date,” said Ferentz. “We’ve been impressed with Kyle for over a year. He’s an excellent linebacker and interestingly enough, this past fall he did a nice job at running back. We’re very, very excited about him.”
The Iowa coaching staff met Williams through the recruitment of A.J. Johnson. Williams ended his prep career with 257 tackles, nine quarterback sacks and five interceptions. And while Ferentz says Williams will be strictly a defensive player, he tallied 1,393 career rushing yards, 118 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns.
Nyere Aumaitre, a 6-5, 300-pound offensive linesman from Camden, NJ, ranks 11th on Lemming’s list for offensive tacklers. In his senior season, Aumaitre was named to the first team all-conference and all-South New Jersey teams.
With the recent success of Outland Trophy winner Robert Gallery, Ferentz says Iowa may be starting to gain a reputation for developing interior linesmen.
“We had some excellent guys on the list, and I’m really happy with the guys we got,” he said. “I think they’re going to fit in with the way we do things. Again, I feel good about where they stand there too, not only now but in the future as well.”
But while Iowa may have a solid reputation across the nation for interior linesmen, Ferentz said his staff and he are still fighting perceptions about the university when they speak to prospects.
“It’s improving,” he said. “But we’re still Iowa. Unfortunately, recruiting is not really that objective. It gets frustrating a little at times.”
But Ferentz is quick to point out that Iowa is among six teams to have finished in the top eight for the last two seasons.
“If you look at the other five teams, it’s pretty elite company we’re keeping,” he said. “But I think our odds of beating those teams are better on the field than they are in recruiting. That’s just the reality of the situation. On one hand it’s very frustrating, but on the other, I think we’re certainly in a better position than we were five years ago.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com