PHOENIX — Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater referred all NFL questions to coach Kirk Ferentz.
Monday, Ferentz said the junior from Omaha has submitted his name to the NFL’s draft advisory committee for a gauge of where he would be selected in the 2011 draft if he opts to make himself eligible.
Prater joins junior safety Tyler Sash and junior wide receiver Marvin McNutt in checking his NFL option.
“It’s become a fairly common practice for any junior who’s played at all,” Ferentz said. “It’s a resource the NFL has made available to players. I think it’s wonderful. It’s better them to get information from people who do this for a living as opposed to people who might be advising or offering advice who really have no idea.”
Ferentz believes all three players should return for their senior seasons at Iowa.
“We’ll let the [NFL evaluation] committee do their work on that,” he said. ”I’m out of that business right now. I’m not a NFL personnel guy. Let’s see what they say, and we’ll go from there.”
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the April draft is Jan. 15.
“We encourage it, we have no problem with it,” Ferentz said. “They have to get the feedback fairly quickly. It’s a player’s decision. If a guy has a great opportunity, then they make that decision based on their situation.”
That makes seven underclassmen who’ve asked for their NFL evaluations in tonight’s Insight Bowl. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert is one of four Tigers who’ve submitted their names for a draft evaluation, which is a confidential process.
The Hawkeyes lost offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and defensive back Amari Spievey to the draft early last season. Both start for their respective NFL teams, the Packers and the Lions.
Iowa and Missouri do share a border, so, yes, the two schools tread over each other a little bit in recruiting.
Iowa has snagged Adrian Clayborn, McNutt, Don Shumpert and Christian Kirksey out of the St. Louis area. Missouri reached into western Iowa and grabbed the Hoch brothers, Dan and Matt. Dan, 6-7, 315 pounds, is a starting offensive tackle for the Tigers. Matt is a redshirt tight end.
Hoch sees where a successful result tonight could throw some weight behind the winner’s recruiting efforts when Iowa and Missouri end up in the same living room.
“Guys want to go with the winning or the hot team at the time,” said Hoch, a two-year starter who played as a true freshman. “Recruits want to be successful and they want to go to places that will allow them to be successful. Both these programs are great, but I think the winner will get some help in recruiting.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel believes recruits have their own agendas and one game probably won’t turn it either way.
“Kids see two good programs, they’re going to look at both and choose between them,” he said. “I think [the game result] lasts for about a day and a half. It comes down to do you respect the program, do you like the players in the program? Do they win and graduate their players? And both programs do that.”
Road to recovery
Iowa senior running back Paki O’Meara suffered back-to-back concussions in September with the second, covering a kick at Arizona, classified as severe.
He was cleared in just the last couple weeks to do just about everything — covering kicks is definitely out — but it took a long time to get there.
“There were three or four weeks where I was feeling symptomatic,” he said. “It wasn’t too scary unless I sat down and really thought about why I was feeling like that. When you’re dealing with a brain injury or a head injury, it’s always kind of nerve-wracking.”
School wasn’t a problem being a fifth-year senior, but he spent a few weeks in his Iowa City apartment, trying to minimize exposure to bright light and avoid TV.
That’s behind him now. He’s the No. 2 running back tonight behind true freshman Marcus Coker.
He was even able to joke a little on Sunday about the torrent of injuries and disarray that has struck Iowa running back in the last couple years.
“It seems like every year, it’s the same thing. Guy are going down for this reason or that reason,” said the former Cedar Rapids Washington star. “Luckily, there has been just enough of us to make it through the season.”
Ferentz said Monday “as far as I know” there won’t be any eligibility surprises for tonight’s game. . . . Don’t look for a revival of the Iowa-Missouri series, which is being played tonight for the first time in 100 years. Ferentz said he believes the move to a nine-game conference schedule in the Big Ten and Iowa’s commitment to the Iowa State rivalry will pretty much lock out any ideas for new rivalry games. . . . Pinkel acknowledged Monday that he’s had some talks with the school on a contract extension. His current contract runs through Dec. 31, 2015.
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