Interview with Iowa's Eric Johnson (Part I)

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March 31, 2014 | 10:55 am

Eric Johnson is a recruitnik's recruitnik. But it's his job, so what's the excuse for the rest of us?

Johnson is in his 13th year at Iowa  and his eighth year as recruiting coordinator. Johnson returned to coaching Hawkeye tight ends in 2010 after assisting with Hawkeye linebackers the last two seasons. He coached Iowa's tight ends for five seasons (2003-07) and previously served as Iowa's quality control assistant for three years. He was a defensive graduate assistant during his first year (1999) at Iowa.

I talked with Johnson for about 20 minutes on signing day. I want to thank him for the interview. It's an extremely long and busy day. Plus, the Hawkeyes did some business yesterday with DeMatha's Darian Cooper. There are letters of intent still out (Johnny Lowdermilk).

And, oh yeah, DeMatha O-lineman Cyrus Kouandjio is still considering the Hawkeyes, according to the Tusacaloosa (Ala.) News.

Q: Class had a lot of movement at the end (five commits in the last three days). That's the most movement for Iowa in a long time if not ever. Why so much?

EJ: I think most of it was the fact we had so many scholarships this year. You're positioning and seeing what guys you have to fill positions. We had a couple guys we didn't get at particular positions we were looking for. We always have those guys, well hey, it you've got something, we're going to give it to this guy even though we've already taken at his position. We're going to give it to this guy and that's kind of how it worked out.

You take a Marcus Collins, for example. He was a guy who coach Ferentz had a close friend who told us about him three months ago. From a linebacker and numbers standpoint, we were fairly full. Even with someone switching [LB Mike Orloff decommitted early this week for UCLA], we were still pretty comfortable with the number of linebackers we had.

When it came down to it yesterday [Tuesday], he was a player who'd been on our radar for three months, a guy we felt very comfortable with, an excellent player on tape, a very good wrestler, one of the top hurdlers in his area. All the intangibles from an off-the-field standpoint, grades, everything. When we had a spot open, he was the guy we wanted to give a scholarship to.

He's going to be a linebacker.

Q: I think an Ed Miles [2003-06]. Am I way off there?

A: Very similar. Very similar.

Q: Tell me about running back. I know it was a need for this class.

A: It was a big need for us.

Mika'il McCall was the first one to jump on board. He was a kid who was committed somewhere else. Came to a bunch of our games. So, we asked if he was sincerely interested in us. He said he was. So, we opened the door to recruit him at that time. He was a guy we felt very strongly about, but we wanted to do a little bit more research before we ended up offering him a scholarship. We felt comfortable offering and we feel he's going to be a tremendous football player.

He really has deceptive speed. I don't think people know how fast he really is. Good speed, power back. Reminds you of a guy we've had here before in that respect.

Rodney Coe was the next one to jump on board, a different type of player. He's 6-3 and about 250 to 255 pounds. Unbelievable hands. He's a guy you can play in the slot and do a number of things with. He has good speed and good enough feet to make you miss.

You've got the two big guys right there and then we added Jordan Canzeri. That one did come on our radar fairly quickly, the last couple weeks. He contacted [offensive coordinator] Ken O'Keefe, that's Ken's area [Canzeri is from Troy, N.Y.). Ken really liked the tape and sent it to [running backs coach] Lester [Erb]. Coach Ferentz loved the tape. We decided to go on him.

He's a little bit of a smaller back at 5-8, 5-9 and probably 175 to 180 pounds. He has excellent vision. We just feel very good about him as a football player. You can line him up in the slot and do a number of things with him.

Q: Are all three of those guys slotted at running back?

A: Yes, all three are slotted at running back.

Q: What about Coe playing linebacker in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl?

A: We recruited him as a running back. That's what we thought from day one. That's what we're going to start him out as, at running back.

Q: He was your recruit. How many trips did you make to Edwardsville? [Coe is from Edwardsville, Ill.]

A: Once you make contact with a recruit at the end of November and beginning of December, you're allowed six in-person contact visits with him. So, we made six.

Q: What did he think about playing linebacker in that game?

A: He wasn't excited about it, but then he bought into the concept and I think he had a really good time in that all-star game and during that week.

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