Junior days are critical to the recruiting efforts of FBS teams in this this accelerated zoom that has become recruiting. (Remember, Iowa has had the core of its class in place since August.)
But junior days have gone from fringe to an absolute. Iowa has had its for several years. And it's not just an open house for juniors. Coaches know whom to invite. Young players are identified at the coaches' summer camps. They are recommended by high school coaches in the area.
Iowa's junior day is this weekend. HawkeyeReport.com publisher Tom Kakert tells us of some of the prospects who'll be in Iowa City on Sunday.
Last Saturday the Hawkeyes received some much needed recruiting momentum when 2014 offensive tackle Ross Pierschbacher called Ferentz and let him know that he was verbally committing to the Iowa. Pierschbacher grew up a Hawkeye fan, so his commitment wasn’t a surprise. The timing was a bit of a surprise. The 6-foot-4 and 275 future offensive lineman from Cedar Falls has recently said he was going to take a few visits this spring and it appeared that Notre Dame was gaining ground on the favored Hawkeyes.
In a bit of irony given the annual Ferentz to the NFL rumors, it was Irish coach Brian Kelly dancing with the National Football League that pushed Pierschbacher towards his home state school.
Interestingly, one of the first phone calls that Pierschbacher made after making his commitment was to fellow 2014 in-state prospect Jay Scheel. The Union High School athlete also grew up a Hawkeye fan and Pierschbacher wanted him to know that he was on board.
On Sunday the Hawkeyes will be hosting what has become an annual Junior Day, where top prospects from the Midwest come to Iowa City for an unofficial visit. Scheel, a 6-foot-1 and 170 pound athlete who projects to either wide receiver or potentially quarterback, his position at the high school level. In addition to an offer from Iowa, Scheel holds scholarship opportunities from Iowa State, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Stay tuned on Sunday and see if Scheel becomes the second member of the Class of 2014.
Another in-state prospect who will be visiting on Sunday is Keegan Render, a 6-foot-3 and 310 pound offensive lineman from Indianola. Iowa offered Render last fall and has been to Iowa City a couple of times during the season. He also holds an offer from Iowa State and has interest from Wisconsin, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Minnesota.
Elsewhere in-state, Iowa has invited Cedar Rapids Xavier's Matt Nelson who is also a Division I basketball prospect at 6-foot-8, along with Mount Ayr's Jacob Sobotka, West Marshall's Duncan Ferch, and brothers A.J. Allen and Trevor Allen from Waukee, among others.
The visitors won’t be limited to state of Iowa prospects. In fact, two out of state quarterbacks will be visiting this weekend and both already hold scholarship offers from the Hawkeyes. Dimonic McKinzy from the Kansas City area is a dual threat signal caller and Clayton Thorson is more of a traditional quarterback from the Chicago area. McKinzy has offers from Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota, while Thorson, who attended two Iowa game last fall, has offers from Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, Penn State, Indiana, Northern Illinois, and North Carolina State.
In addition to Thorson, several other top prospects from the state of Illinois will be visiting Iowa City for the Hawkeyes Junior Day. Leading that list is offensive lineman Nick Allegretti from Lincolin-Way East High School. He has camped at Iowa and attended a game in Iowa City last fall. He already holds offers from Illinois and Cincinnati and the Hawkeyes could be one of the next schools to offer.
Oak Lawn Richards athlete Tommy Mister will be visiting this weekend. Mister could play running back or defensive back in the future and the 6-foot-1 and 190 prospect has offers from Notre Dame, Illinois, and Indiana. He could leave Iowa City with an offer from the Hawkeyes.
Iowa always likes to add tight ends and one of the hottest prospects in the state of Illinois will be visiting this weekend. Ian Bunting from Hinsdale Central High School has picked up offers from Illinois, Purdue, and Vanderbilt recently and the 6-foot-7 and 215 pound prospect is making a return trip to Iowa after camping with the Hawkeyes last summer and attending a game this fall. It would not be a shocker to see Iowa extend an offer fairly soon.
Other names to watch include Shane Evans from Crystal Lake High School. He is a lineman with an early offer from Northern Illinois, and quarterback Jake Kolbe from Naperville Central High School. He holds an early offer from Toledo and is getting interest from Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, and Cincinnati.
Illinois isn’t the only state that will be represented this weekend. 6-foot-3 and 280 pound defensive tackle Preston Woods Jr. will make the trip from the Twin Cities. He is receiving plenty of interest from multiple Big Ten schools.From the state of Missouri, Dalvin Warmack will be visiting. Warmack is a 5-foot-9 and 180 pound running back from Blue Springs High School and he put up some big numbers this past season. He rushed for 2,249 yards and 45 touchdowns and has an offer from Toledo and serious interest from Iowa Cincinnati, Kansas State, and Tulsa. St. Louis will also be represented as the Hawkeyes host quarterback Tyler Creath. He threw for 2,697 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and is hearing from Iowa, Michigan State, Missouri, and Indiana.