In the wake of the Joe Paterno era ending at Penn State, expect the cell phones of the Nittany Lions’ 16 commitments to start buzzing . . . right . . . about . . . now.
While most college coaches try to keep recruiting at a respectful level, the honest assessment is that when a coach is on the hot seat in November or perhaps gets relieved of his duties, other programs will start contacting their committed recruits. That’s the harsh reality of big-time college athletics today.
With the shocking developments this week in State College, Pa., and the firing on Wednesday evening of legendary head coach Joe Paterno, expect the phone lines to the Nittany Lions 16 verbal commits in the Class of 2012 to start burning up.
Some of those phone calls will probably be coming from Iowa City. The Hawkeyes had offered and received unofficial visits from several of the prospects who committed to Penn State.
With a pressing need on the Iowa defensive line in this recruiting class, two names off the Penn State commit list jump out immediately, four-star prospects Tommy Schutt and Brent Wilkerson.
Schutt is a massive 6-foot-3, 301-pound powerhouse in the middle who Rivals.com ranks as the top prospect in the state of Illinois in 2012 and the 40th best overall. Shutt is from Glenbard West High School in suburban Chicago and was a high school teammate of Iowa freshman offensive lineman Jordan Walsh, so the Hawkeyes have some connections to him and the program.
Thus far Schutt, who has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All American game in early January, has not commented on the status of his recruitment, but expect Michigan and Notre Dame to also be players if he opens up his recruitment.
The Hawkeyes also could use an impact player at defensive end, with Wilkerson fitting that bill. The 6-4, 250-pound defensive lineman committed to Penn State in March and, like Schutt, it’s unclear if he will open up his recruitment. Also, like Schutt, Wilkerson held an Iowa offer and the Hyattsville, Md., and DeMatha Catholic High School prep has former teammates on the Hawkeyes football team in sophomore Marcus Coker and freshmen Jordan Lomax and Darian Cooper.
In June, it appeared that 2012 Connecticut prep Malik Golden was close to making a verbal pledge to the Hawkeyes after visiting Iowa City and picking up an offer. Then, an offer came from Penn State and he made his commitment to the Nittany Lions in late August. The 6-foot-1 and 185 pound receiver could open up his recruitment and Iowa, along with UConn and Boston College could be near the top of his list of schools.
A name that might be a bit of a long shot for Iowa on the list of Penn State commits is 5-foot-9, 185-pound cornerback Armani Reeves. Defensive back is a need area for the Hawkeyes. If the four-star prospects opens things up, expect Iowa to at least reach out to see if he’s interested. Expect Michigan and Notre Dame to also inquire about the status of the Roxbury, Mass., prep.
One final name that the Hawkeyes could look to get involved with from the Penn State recruiting class could be quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg from Philadelphia, Pa. With A.J. Derby moving to linebacker last month, quarterback is a need for the Hawkeyes, so the interest from Iowa would be natural.
Mornhinweg did not list an offer from Iowa before he committed to Penn State, but that would not stop Iowa from picking up the phone and making a call to the son of Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Remember, Iowa does have some links to the Eagles staff. Defensive back Greg Castillo is the son of Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
Iowa’s two visitors last weekend enjoyed watching the Hawkeyes’ win over Michigan. Four-star defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie from Lake Forest, Ill., reportedly has the Iowa at the top of his list of schools following his visit. Ekakitie also visited Boston College last week for their Thursday game against Florida State. The 6-foot-2 and 255 pound defensive end told running back David Smith, a fellow 2012 recruit from the Chicago area, that Iowa was his top school after his visit. Expect Northwestern to be a player in his recruitment.
The other visitor, three-star defensive tackle Aaron Curry from Keller, Texas, says he had a good time on his official visit to Iowa. Curry said the Iowa coaches told the 6-foot-3, 275-pound tackle that he would have the opportunity to come in and play right away. Curry is still scheduled to visit Mississippi on Nov. 11, but the Rebels announced this week that coach Houston Nutt would leave at the end of this season. He also has an official visit schedule to Missouri in early December.
An unofficial visitor worth watching as recruiting heats up in December and January is defensive back Jordan Fields. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound safety committed to Central Michigan in July, but Iowa has been showing increased interest in the last month, although the Hawkeyes have not yet offered a scholarship.