Barbecue bonding for Iowa recruits

Hawkeye coaches invited '13 & '14 commits

March 31, 2014 | 10:38 pm

IOWA CITY - With a record-setting 16 verbal commitments by the start of fall camp, the Hawkeye football coaches aren’t about to sit back and enjoy themselves.

They know what every other college football coaching staff knows; recruiting is never over until signing day in February when you have a signed letter of intent in your hand.

As crazy as it might seem, their work is just beginning.

Living in the age of the early commitment means college coaches are also living in the era of the de-commitment as restless teenagers are swayed to change their mind about their college choices.

The Iowa coaches took a pretty significant step to help solidify the Class of 2013 last Sunday when they hosted many of their verbal commitments, along with several uncommitted prospects from the Class of 2013 and 2014 for a barbecue in Iowa City.

This seems to be the hot recruiting tool just before fall camp, with several schools hosting these casual events in late July to bring together committed and uncommitted prospects.

The comments from the Iowa commits coming out of Sunday’s barbecue? They loved it.

“I’ve been talking to a few of them on Facebook and Twitter, so today I got to like match a name with a face. Guys like John Kenny, David Kenney, Derrick Willies, Delano Hill and Andre Harris” said three-star commit Malik Rucker. “It was great to get around those guys and get to know them better.”

Facilitating a bonding experience like the one these Iowa commits had Sunday could reduce the chances of de-commitments before signing day.

Ferentz on class size

One of the nice things about Big Ten Media Day in Chicago is talking recruiting with Coach Kirk Ferentz and getting an idea of where the Hawkeyes might be headed in terms of numbers.

With a small class of seniors, it’s safe to say that with 16 commitments Iowa doesn’t have a whole lot of room left in 2013.

The best guess is Iowa will add four or five prospects to this recruiting class. Since Ferentz arrived, he has not signed a recruiting class of fewer than 20 prospects, so adding four puts them once again at 20.

The Hawkeyes are without a running back commitment.

Ferentz could have probably finished this class by Aug. 1, but he likes to keep a few scholarships open for senior prospects with strong film who could help the team. It’s been a strong suit of the Hawkeyes under Ferentz and he likes having this option on the table.

“It’s probably not a bad idea to keep some room in the class because historically, we have had a lot of guys who’ve had good senior years but were maybe in the B range and not on the offer list,” Ferentz said.

He was quick to point out that two seniors with him in Chicago, James Vandenberg and Micah Hyde, were prospects they evaluated as seniors and offered later in the recruiting process.

“That’s really the history of our program. I don’t want us to lose sight of who we’ve been,” Ferentz said.

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