Feb. 2, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Recruiting rivals may portray the University of Iowa in the same rural light as the television comedy Green Acres, but it is head coach Kirk Ferentz and his football coaching staff with big smiles on their faces Wednesday after signing 23 high school student-athletes to National Letters of Intent.
“We feel great about this group collectively,” Ferentz said. “We address needs, but more importantly I think it’s a group of guys that we are eager to work with. The group is widespread in terms of their talents and the positions we tried to address.”
Want even better news? The class isn’t complete just yet — one more is expected to sign in the next few days, bringing the total to an impressive two dozen.
“Our biggest challenge I think in recruiting, two things, is perception. Some people try to portray this to be it like Green Acres,” Ferentz said. “The second part would be distance. We have to travel in recruiting.”
Of the signees, 11 are from outside the state’s borders and three are from DeMatha Catholic High School, the same program that produced Iowa’s phenomenal running back, Marcus Coker. (Click HERE to read a Signing Day exclusive feature on Coker.)
The group includes 23 multi-sport athletes, 20 team captains and five that played on state championship teams. There are also three home-grown Hawkeyes: junior offensive lineman Dan Heiar (Charlotte, Iowa/Northeast High School/Iowa Western Community College), offensive lineman Austin Blythe (Williamsburg, Iowa) and tight end Henry Krieger-Coble (Mount Pleasant, Iowa).
Heiar, Blythe and offensive lineman Jordan Walsh (Glendale Heights, Ill./Glenbard West) comprise a solid group of Arnold Ziffels — or, for those unfamiliar with Green Acres — hogs.
“Both Austin and Jordan are guys that I think are really excellent high school football players,” Ferentz said. “Jordan comes out of a tremendous program (Glenbard West) and we have tried to recruit players out that have program unsuccessfully and we are just really excited to get Jordan. Dan was semi accidental in that we don’t actively recruit junior college players, but he came to our attention and we liked what we saw on tape and thought that he would be a really good fit and we are excited about him, too.”
“We feel great about this group collectively. We address needs, but more importantly I think it’s a group of guys that we are eager to work with. The group is widespread in terms of their talents and the positions we tried to address.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
The 2011 recruiting class includes one highly-touted quarterback in Jake Rudock of Weston, Fla.
“Obviously we want guys that can throw the ball accurately and have requisite talent, but all of the things that made us feel good and the fact that he led his team (St. Thomas Aquinas) to a state championship,” Ferentz said. “He’s a great leader and a humble guy and very, very modest.”
Four running backs will add depth to a position that desperately needs it. The newcomers are Damon Bullock (Mansfield, Texas), Jordan Canzerri (Troy, N.Y.), Rodney Coe (Glen Carbon, Ill.) and Mika’il McCall (Dolton, Ill.).
“We are excited about the group,” Ferentz said. “Some of the guys we were aware of and obviously the most recent developments — Damon Bullock — that happened kind of late and also Jordan (Canzerri) is just a really intriguing guy.”
As of now, the newest Hawkeyes include 13 offensive players and 10 on defense; there are four running backs and four defensive backs.
Ferentz also used the gathering to speak publicly for the first time about a bizarre medical situation that briefly hospitalized 13 football players after a grueling strength and conditioning workout.
“First and foremost, our focus was on the health and well-being and privacy of our players,” Ferentz said. “They are all progressing well and moving forward.”
Ferentz said that the workout in question will not be repeated.
“We can’t run the risk again and we won’t,” Ferentz said. “Our workouts are challenging by design, our workouts are safe by design.”
Calling football “a tough sport for tough people,” Ferentz said that the Hawkeyes will continue to work hard in the off-season, but they will also “work as smart as we can.”