IOWA CITY — In recruiting, you don’t know if it’s going to work. You don’t know if today’s letter of intent will end up being tomorrow’s all-Big Ten superstar.
Sometimes, you get a better idea by what a player does when, oops, hey there’s this other guy, too.
Iowa coaches caught of glimpse of that with Ohio tight end Ray Hamilton.
Hamilton, out of Strongsville, Ohio, was the second tight end Iowa nabbed in the 2011 recruiting class. Mount Pleasant’s Henry Krieger-Coble was the first. And then, about a month later, there was this other guy.
He turned out to be Jake Duzey, a 6-foot-4, 224-pounder out of Michigan.
Krieger-Coble and Hamilton were in. Iowa coaches told them the Hawkeyes would stop shopping at two tight ends. Then, after performing well at Iowa’s summer football camp, Duzey wanted in.
Wait, before you throw out the “promises broken.” There’s a little more to the story.
“We actually asked the other two tight ends,” said Eric Johnson, Iowa’s recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach. “Hey, this is a guy we feel strongly about. We know we said we were going to take two of you guys, but this is a guy we feel very strongly about as a football player.”
All three were among Iowa’s 24 signees Wednesday, when the national signing period began. Iowa received 23 signed letters of intent Wednesday. Ohio safety/linebacker Johnny Lowdermilk still hadn’t received his because of transportation woes with the blizzard.
ESPN.com rated Iowa’s class just outside the top 25.
Hamilton, who picked the Hawkeyes over UCLA, Florida State and North Carolina, was totally fine with a third tight end.
“He said, ‘Coach, this is our team now, whatever it takes to help us win,’ ” Johnson said. “When you have guys who take that kind of attitude, you have a pretty good chance of being successful.”
With only two scholarship running backs on campus, Iowa signed four — Rodney Coe, Mika’il McCall, Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock. Bullock is the only one mentioned for a position switch. Other than that, the attitude is the more the merrier.
Coe, who played linebacker in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, is actually bigger than the 6-3, 238 he’s listed. Johnson guessed between 250 and 255.
Iowa likes him at running back. For now, at least.
“You know, if he can hold at that area, 250, 255, maybe,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said, “but if he outgrows it that won’t be a bad thing, but our intentions are to play him at running back and we’ve shared that with him and we’re excited about that. We think he’s a good running back.”
McCall, 6-0 215 out of Dolton, Ill., originally committed to Michigan State but kept attending Iowa games before deciding to switch.
“He’s a tremendous football player,” Johnson said. “He has really deceptive speed. I’m not sure people really know how fast he is.”
Canzeri, a 5-9, 172-pounder out of Troy, N.Y., committed to the Hawkeyes Tuesday night. His courtship was the shortest, with Iowa contacting him just three weeks ago.
Size is the biggest difference of the three, but Iowa coaches feel Canzeri has the vision and feet to be effective.
“He was worried about his size,” Ferentz said. “We blew that one on (New England Patriots running back) Danny Woodhead, 177 pounds when he went to Chadron State. We didn’t want to blow it again.
“You have to go by what you see on tape and the passion he plays, with the toughness he plays and the determination, that really — told his dad we are not going to ask him to rebound. We just want him to run the football.”
After injuries decimated linebacker last season, the Hawkeyes went hunting for those and found four in Lowdermilk, Melvin Spears, Quinton Alston and Marcus Collins.
“Been hit pretty hard the last two years at that position and certainly our injuries last year, between that and the running back position, it really affected our team and affected our special teams,” Ferentz said.
Iowa’s secondary lost both safeties and so there was a reload there, too, with four recruits — Torrey Campbell, Cole Fisher, Nico Law and Jordan Lomax.
Along the line of scrimmage, Iowa beefed up on the defensive line with tackle Darian Cooper (6-2, 280) and rangy ends Riley McMinn (6-7) and John Raymon (6-5).
Iowa didn’t get a lot of O-linemen, but Johnson said Williamsburg guard Austin Blythe and Glendale Heights, Ill., Jordan Walsh were on the top of Iowa’s recruiting board. He added that Iowa Western Community College’s Dan Heiar, who is enrolled and will participate in spring, was too good to pass up.
Linebackers coach Darrell Wilson was the staff MVP, hauling in seven recruits including highly regarded defensive tackle Darian Cooper and defensive back Jordan Lomax out of DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, Md.). Last season, Iowa found running back Marcus Coker at DeMatha and was in the running this year for O-lineman Cyrus Kouandjio, one of the top recruits in the country.
Iowa picked up five recruits in the last three days, including Cooper, who visited Iowa’s campus when the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis landed 13 players in the hospital.
Ferentz said Iowa’s staff tried to be proactive on the subject.
“It’s the elephant in the room, one of those deals,” Ferentz said.