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By JAMES ALLAN & DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — For Kirk Ferentz and the University of Iowa football program, a key to recruiting is finding student-athletes with whom the Hawkeye message resonates.
Fifteen prospects signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday to play football at Iowa. A few more have signed and will be announced in the next two days. (The regular signing period is Feb. 7, 2018).
“You have to get guys where your message resonates,” Ferentz said Wednesday at a news conference in the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center.
The new Hawkeyes hail from Iowa (four), Wisconsin (four), Illinois (three), California (one), Indiana (one), Missouri (one), and Pennsylvania (one).
Now, Ferentz said, the challenge and fun begins to complete the class of 2018.
“I told our staff there is no doubt in my mind there will be guys out there and we have to be willing to project a little bit,” he said, rattling off names of Hawkeye greats Micah Hyde, Desmond King, Mike Daniels, Josey Jewell, and Chad Greenway. “That is a challenge now and that’s actually kind of fun. As long as there are people to look at, that’s the biggest variable.”
Position-wise, the newest Hawkeyes include four defensive linemen, three offensive linemen, three defensive backs, two wide receivers, one linebacker, one running back, and one quarterback.
“I feel good about the class,” Ferentz said. “We’re excited about the young men that chose to sign with us.”
By February, Ferentz expects the class of 2018 to expand to between 20-22 student-athletes. This is the first time for an early signing period, which Ferentz favors.
“Right now none of us can make full judgment until this whole recruiting process is over because I think it’s going to be a learning period in the next six, seven weeks,” he said. “I’m eager to see how that unfolds. We will probably have a better perspective in February.”
Now that the early signing period has ended, Ferentz says that on Thursday Iowa’s complete focus is on Boston College and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
“It’s straight ahead,” said Ferentz. “We’re trying to get our guys ready to play against Boston College.”
Ferentz sees similarities between the Eagles and Hawkeyes when he studies tape of Boston College. He calls the 7-5 Eagles a strong, physical football team.
“In a lot of ways the style of football they play is like ours,” said Ferentz. “It should be an intriguing matchup. They have done an excellent job and have good football players on their team.
“For us to win this game, we’re going to have to be focused, detail-oriented, and work hard on the game field go bring home a victory.”
On the personnel front, the Hawkeyes will be without two starters during the Pinstripe Bowl. Starting left tackle Alaric Jackson will travel with the team, but will miss the game for a violation of team rules. Freshman Tristian Wirfs will slide to the left side, while sophomore Levi Paulsen is expected to start at right tackle.
Senior safety Miles Taylor will travel with the team, but he will miss his final game as a Hawkeye after undergoing a surgical procedure. Junior Brandon Snyder (violation of team rules) and sophomore Toks Akinrabade (medical procedure) will not travel with the team.
Ferentz is excited for the Hawkeyes to experience New York City during the holidays, including visits to the 9/11 observatory and the Rockettes Show. But he’s most excited about the 2017 team having a chance to take the field at Yankee Stadium one final time.
“We’re excited about playing this football game and for the opportunity for this team to play one more time together,” said Ferentz. “The guys have done a nice job in practice, but our most important work is in front of us now and that’s the challenge ahead of us.”
Tickets are available to the 2017 New Era Pinstripe Bowl by visiting Iowa’s Athletic Ticket Office at www.hawkeyesports.com/tickets. The game will be televised on ESPN at 4:15 p.m. (CT) on Dec. 27 with Kevin Negandhi, Mack Brown, Booker McFarland, and Jen Lada on the call.
|2018 Early Signing Class|
|Dallas Craddieth||DB||6-0||197||St. Louis, Mo. (Hazelwood Central)|
|Dillon Doyle||LB||6-3||220||Iowa City, Iowa (West)|
|Samson Evans||WR||6-0||205||Crystal Lake, Ill. (Prairie Ridge)|
|Henry Geil||RB||6-1||210||Green Bay, Wis. (Preble)|
|Cody Ince||OL||6-4||270||Balsam Lake, Wis. (Unity)|
|Jeff Jenkins||OL||6-3||260||Crystal Lake, Ill. (Prairie Ridge)|
|Tyler Linderbaum||DL||6-2||260||Solon, Iowa (Solon)|
|Riley Moss||DB||6-1||182||Ankeny, Iowa (Centennial)|
|Daviyon Nixon||DL||6-4||285||Kenosha, Wis. (Indian Trail Academy/Iowa Western CC)|
|Spencer Petras||QB||6-5||225||Greenbrae, Calif. (Marin Catholic)|
|Jack Plumb||OL||6-7||255||Green Bay, Wis. (Bay Port)|
|Terry Roberts||DB||5-10||170||Erie, Pa. (Cathedral Prep)|
|Noah Shannon||DL||6-1||310||Oswego, Ill. (Oswego)|
|Tyrone Tracy, Jr.||WR||6-0||190||Indianapolis, Ind. (Decatur Central)|
|John Waggoner||DE||6-6||240||West Des Moines, Iowa (Dowling Catholic)|