Iowa Hawkeyes Recruiting Coordinator Eric Johnson and former Iowa Defensive Coordinator Norm Parker paid a visit to Des Moines on Tuesday night for the Polk County I-Club’s annual Recruiting gathering.
Johnson led things off with some comments related to how a handful of recruits asked about the status of Iowa’s indoor practice facility, as a factor in their recruitment. Iowa is about a year away from their new football complex being totally completed and the new indoor practice facility was completed last August.
Fans in attendance were able to ask Johnson some recruiting questions and one fan in attendance asked why Iowa didn’t sign anyone from Florida in this class, which I believe is the first time that has happened during the Ferentz era.
Johnson said that as a staff, the Iowa coaches would rather spend the time and resources recruiting players who live in a closer proximity to the Iowa campus, most of them being no more than six to eight hours away from their homes. That means less emphasis on Florida.
On the surface, that might make some people question the logic given that a lot of good football players come from Florida. It certainly blew up my twitter timeline when I tweeted it on Tuesday night and even the BTN’s Gerry Dinardo chimed in.
Here are the number of players Iowa signed from Florida in recent classes followed by the number of players who are either still in the program or stayed at Iowa for their entire careers:
2012: 2/2 (Greg Mabin, Daumantas Venckus both still at Iowa)
2011: 2/2 (Jake Rudock, Torrey Campbell both still at Iowa)
2010: 1/0 (De’Andre Johnson transfer)
2009: 1/0 (Josh Brown transfer)
2008: 3/1 (Jeff Brinson transfer, David Blackwell grades, Jack Swanson grad in four years no two deep impact)
2007: 1/0 (Jevon Pugh transfer)
2006: 2/2* (*Lance Tillison left, then came back and finished, Troy Johnson neither two-deep impact)
2005: 2/0 (Vernon Jackson transfer, Calvin Bailey grades)
2004: 1/1 (Damien Sims was a ‘hit’)
2003: 0/1 (Chris Brevi transfer)
2002: 3/2 (Marcus Paschal, Ed Miles, Larry Thomas transfer)
Looking over that list, one might suggest that Iowa hasn’t really actively targeting Florida for a decade now, or at least there in lies quite a bit of evidence as to whatever their modus operandi has been down there has been broken. Rick Kaczenski recruited Florida for Iowa from 2007-2011. Before him I believe Phil Parker spent some time in the Sunshine State, though I think it was a joint effort.
The truth of the matter is that the Florida talent that Iowa landed in the early days of the Ferentz era (Colin Cole, Fred Barr, Antwan Allen, Mo Brown, CJ Jones, Brad Banks, Abdul Hodge etc) had a huge helping hand from Bret Bielema, Iowa’s best recruiter and the assistant coach in charge of Florida. While Bielema and Iowa struck out on a lot of the players they signed from Florida, the hits were pretty darned good.
There are a great many great players who play in the Sunshine State each year. For whatever the reasons, Iowa has chosen a different recruiting strategy since their early years and Johnson’s statement on Tuesday night about Iowa not focusing as much on Florida isn’t actually a surprise at all, as you can tell.
Is Florida THE answer? Not necessarily. The starting lineup for Iowa’s 2010 Orange Bowl champs didn’t include a Florida native and did include five Iowans. Conversely, the starting lineup for the 2002 Big Ten Champs included at least seven Florida natives. If not Florida, then you have to mine another talent rich state and Iowa has been shifting their attention to Ohio, which is roughly eight hours away from Iowa City.
Other notes from Tuesday:
-Johnson said that Derrick Willies might be the best receiver they have ever had in one of their summer camps
-Norm Parker said he feels this year’s defense will be better at each position grouping than they were one year ago
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