The whole Florida thing for Iowa recruting

Sunshine State worked early, but Hawkeyes have gradually pulled away

Published: February 20 2013 | 1:41 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:42 am in
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Florida recruiting had a huge hand in turning around Iowa's fortunes from 1-10 in 1999 to 11-2 (8-0 in the Big Ten) and the Orange Bowl.

This is when a young, hard-charging linebackers coach named Bret Bielema recruited Florida for head coach Kirk Ferentz. The Florida recruits included wide receivers Mo Brown and C.J. Jones, linebackers Fred Barr and Abdul Hodge, defensive back Antwan Allen and defensive lineman Colin Cole. Quarterback Brad Banks also was from Florida, but former Iowa D-line coach Ron Aiken is credited with that discovery while scouting Mississippi junior colleges.

Bielema left Iowa for Kansas State after the 2001 season. Iowa's relationships in FLA stayed strong for one more season, with linebacker Ed Miles and safety Marcus Paschal signing on in 2002.

After Bielema, defensive coordinator/secondary coach Phil Parker recruited the Tampa area. Former D-line coach Rick Kaczenksi also recruited areas of Florida.

When the Iowa staff went through the first-round of shakeups with two new coordinators in early 2012, Ferentz announced that Iowa wouldn't have a coach in FLA this recruiting season. Up until Feb. 6, every Ferentz recruiting staff had at least one Florida recruit.

Miles and Paschal were the last multi-year starters from Florida. They finished in '06. Since the 2002 class, Iowa has had 17 FLA recruits.

The 2013 Hawkeyes could have a Floridian at QB in sophomore Jake Rudock. Also, it's too early to see where the careers of defensive back Torrey Campbell ('11 recruit) and WR Greg Mabin and D-end Daumantas Venckus-Cucchiara are headed.

But of those 17 recruits, only two (RB Damian Sims and LB Troy Johnson) ended up as part-time starters. Nine FLA recruits left Iowa early during that stretch, too.

Ferentz said last February that Iowa wasn't going to commit to Florida. What sparked this is recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson reiterated that during an I-Club gathering in Des Moines on Tuesday night.

Ferentz has decided to focus Iowa's recruiting on the midwest. You're going to ask, where is the speed going to come from?

My guesses would be Chicago, metro Ohio and St. Louis.

The 2013 class included five players from Ohio, delivered by O-line coach Brian Ferentz. This included wide receiver Damon Powell, running back LeShun Daniels and safety Solomon Warfield. Outside of linebacker Reggie Spearman, Iowa didn't do a lot in the Chicago area, most likely because former running backs coach Lester Erb was out of the game.

For the first time in three years, Johnson again found recruits in St. Louis, bringing in three speed position players in WRs Derrick Mitchell Jr. and Andre Harris and running back Jonathan Parker. (Interesting note: The first St. Louis recruits during the Ferentz era didn't come until 2006, when WR Paul Chaney and DE Adrian Clayborn signed.)

Some unknowns here:

-- What about Texas? Offensive coordinator Greg Davis and linebackers coach LeVar Woods hit the state this year and that strategy likely will take hold. And, yes, there is speed in Texas.

-- What about Chicago? I don't know what's going to happen there.

-- I imagine Florida is not going to be totally closed. Iowa has connections there. The Hawkeyes will again play bowl games there. It's certainly not out of the question.

Summary: Credit Bielema. Florida clearly worked for Iowa in the late '90s and early '00s. Iowa gradually backed away from the state and, thus, had fewer big-time hits. It takes the right kind of recruiter and a commitment to make FLA work for a northern school whatever miles away. The logic to pull out is solid given recent evidence, but you can't deny the early home runs FLA yielded for the Hawkeyes.

I took a look at all of the signing day releases during Ferentz's era. It goes like this:

2013 -- 0

2012 -- (2) Venckus-Cucchiara, Mabin

2011 -- (2) Campbell, Rudock

2010 -- (1) RB De'Andre Johnson (dismissed from team)

2009 -- (1) RB Josh Brown (transfer)

2008 -- (3) QB David Blackwell (academics), RB Jeff Brinson (transfer), S Jack Swanson (four-year letterwinner; no career starts)

2007 -- (1) RB Jevon Pugh (transfer)

2006 -- (2) LB Troy Johnson (started 7 games), LB Lance Tillison (transferred and then returned)

2005 -- (2) RB Kalvin Bailey (transferred), DL Vernon Jackson (left team)

2004 -- (2) DB Wallner Belleus (academics), RB Damian Sims (rushed for 1,504 yards and 13 TDs in his career)

2003 -- (1) LB Chris Brevi (medical redshirt, I believe)

2002 -- (3) LB Ed Miles (207 career tackles, 23 for loss), S Marcus Paschal (199 career tackles, 3 INTs, 17 PBUs), DT Larry Thomas (transferred?)

2001 -- (6) QB Brad Banks (Heisman runner-up), CB Antwan Allen (started 38 games,235 tackles, eight career INTs), WR C.J. Jones (1,835 all-purpose yards in two seasons, 10 TDs), LB Abdul Hodge (No. 3 on Iowa's career tackles list with 435), WR Darius Butler (transfer), DL Fabian Dodd (transfer)

2000 -- (5) LB George Lewis (73 career tackles), CB Benny Sapp (dismissed), LB Charlie Bodiford (transfer?), WR Jhante Jones (transfer?), DB Aramis Haralson (transfer)

1999 -- (3) DL Colin Cole (23 career sacks, 47 career tackles for loss), LB Fred Barr (376 career tackles), WR Mo Brown (84 career receptions, 1,515 yards and 15 TDs)

Top 3 from Ohio: QB Ricky Stanzi (26-9 record as starting QB), WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (Iowa's career leader in receptions with 173), CB Micah Hyde (38 career starts, eight INTs, 240 tackles)

Top eight: LT Robert Gallery (Outland Trophy), TE Dallas Clark (Mackey Award, actually a walk-on), OL Marshal Yanda (Pro Bowler), LB Pat Angerer (145 tackles in '09), DT Mitch King (17.5 career sacks, 55 career tackles for loss), DT Matt Kroul (record 50 career starts), DT Jared Clauss (20 career tackles for loss)

Top four: DE Matt Roth (34 career sacks), TE Tony Moeaki (76 career receptions), OT Bryan Bulaga (Big Ten Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year in '09), P Ryan Donahue (five of longest 14 punts in school history, covering 82 (second), 76 (fifth), 73, twice (10th) and 71 (14th) yards)

Top four: DL Jonathan Babineaux (12 career sacks), DE Howard Hodges (21 career sacks), QB Drew Tate (8,292 career passing yards, 61 TDs), TE Scott Chandler (117 career receptions, 10 TDs)

Top two: WR Marvin McNutt (all Iowa receiving records except receptions), DE Adrian Clayborn (19 career sacks, 37.5 tackles for loss)

Top three: S Bob Sanders (three-time first-team all-Big Ten selection), CB Jovon Johnson (17 career INTs), WR Ed Hinkel (135 career receptions, 15 TDs)

Top two: RB Marcus Coker (1,385 rushing yards in '11, transferred), DT Darian Cooper (34 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss as redshirt frosh last season)


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