– Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson weighed in at 320 pounds on his visit, according to Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson. Iowa believes he’ll make a living as an inside defensive tackle. Linebacker Laron Taylor also weighed in a little bigger than coaches thought at 225. He’s around 6-feet and will play inside linebacker.
– Junior college quarterback Cody Sokol has three years to play two seasons. He’s open to taking a redshirt in 2012, but it’s not set in stone, coach Kirk Ferentz said. When talking about the possibility of having incoming recruit Connor Kornbrath as No. 1 punter, Ferentz said he’d like to have the job figured out during spring practice with sophomore Jonny Mullings and senior John Wienke as the main competitors.
Wienke was the No. 2 quarterback last season. If he wins the punting job, he’s probably not a quarterback anymore. Sokol and redshirt freshman Jake Rudock would be in competition to backup starter James Vandenberg. Vandenberg proved to be durable last season, with the only exception being possible concussion in the fourth quarter of the Insight Bowl.
– There is a lot of “bring him in and figure it out” with this recruiting class. For example, running back Nate Meier, the eight-man star from Fremont-Mills, is coming in as a running back. Johnson said he’s also coming in bigger than Mitch King and Matt Kroul, who starred as D-tackles for the Hawkeyes in ’08 and made NFL rosters.
– Running back Jason White is back. The walk-on from Davenport took the walk with the seniors last fall, because as a junior walk-on, he would’ve had to pay for an extra semester of school as a senior. Ferentz said he’s back, but didn’t say if he was on scholarship. Probably have to assume so, because that would be quite a financial commitment for one semester.
– Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Iowa’s scholarships are now considered a four-year deal. Scholarships had been one-year with renewal up to the discretion of coaches. The Big Ten made a push this offseason to increase that to four. Ferentz said Iowa always considered them a four-year relationship.
– Ferentz was asked about departed running back Marcus Coker, who left school after suspension and under suspension amid an assault investigation that has ended and yielded no charges. Stony Brook University, an FCS school, announced this week Coker transferred there.
Ferentz also was asked if recruits and families asked about what, for the most part, were unexplained suspensions and departures of Coker and running back Mika’il McCall (who ended up at Southern Illinois).
“Players make decisions at times that have consequences, with those consequences come actions, it’s as simple as that,” Ferentz said. “. . . There are somethings players do and the consequences are set in stone. There are others that are open to interpretation and you just deal with them.”
– Iowa used to be locked into regional recruiting assignments for assistants. This season, Ferentz switched to a mix of regional and positional. So, for example, offensive line coach Reese Morgan would travel to Colorado and Chicago for prospects.
“I think we have to do that,” Ferentz said. “You try to make sure players are really familiar with everybody on the staff. I only get one crack at a home visit, so I think if position coaches get involved, too, that helps. You try to do every little thing you can. It helps us get to know the players and the prospects a little bit better.”
Expect Iowa to stick with this arrangement.
– Ferentz’s youngest son, Steven, will graduate from Iowa City High in May. The idea of walking on and playing for his dad — he would be the third, following Brian and James — is being discussed.
“He’s looking around here. He’s looking pretty hard at Iowa, as you might imagine,” Kirk said. “If that ends up being what he does, that’s great. You know, we’ll support him, whatever he chooses to do.”
– Of course, Brian Ferentz is the tight ends coach for the New England Patriots, who happen to face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Brian’s degree of difficulty has gone up this week with Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski nursing a high ankle sprain.
Gronkowski caught 17 touchdown passes in the regular season.
“Welcome to the world of coaching, right?” Kirk Ferentz said with a laugh. “It was all looking pretty good for awhile.”
Beyond that, yes, of course, it’s exciting for dad. Kirk Ferentz chased the Lombardi Trophy for six seasons with the Baltimore Ravens/Cleveland Browns.
“You never know, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity unless you’re really fortunate,” he said. “I never had that opportunity, so I’m almost envious in some ways. It’s a really neat experience.”
Iowa has its junior day on Sunday, when the school hosts prospects it’s interested for the 2013 recruiting class. Kirk Ferentz vowed to make it to Indianapolis for the game, however.
NOTE — I had the opportunity to sit with recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson for about a half hour on Wednesday. I made sure to get some sort of comment on each recruit and I will be breaking out the “Hello, My Name Is . . .” features beginning tomorrow.
Enough for today.