IOWA CITY — Iowa’s decision to stop recruiting Florida was about better allocating staff resources, Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson said Thursday.
“We just kind of looked at there’s so many schools in Florida,” Johnson said at Iowa’s annual media day. “There’s so many people recruiting Florida that who are you actually getting out of Florida? Could you utilize your time a lot smarter where parents can make the drive and bring their kids, see them play?
“It’s hard to pull a kid from an area where they’ve got to take two planes to get here. That’s a 16-, 18-hour drive. Their families can’t see them play. That’s hard on a kid.”
Iowa’s recruiting preference is an eight-hour radius around Iowa City, which includes major Midwestern cities Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and into Ohio and Michigan. Iowa also is invested in the Northeast and in Texas “where there are direct flights or we have a lot of ties in those areas,” Johnson said.
The school builds its recruiting bases around their assistant coaches’ comforts and strengths. Former defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski was involved in Florida, while his predecessor, Ron Aiken, was more invested in Texas. Second-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis and first-year wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy spent decades recruiting Texas, so that’s one reason for the shift.
“(Linebackers coach) Levar (Woods) didn’t really have a recruiting area. He’s a great personality, does a great job, a hard worker in recruiting so last year we put him in Texas,” Johnson said. “We brought Greg Davis on the staff that had a ton of Texas ties. Bobby Kennedy now has a ton of Texas ties. So that’s an area we’re trying to mine a little bit more.”
Iowa is facing a few more competitors on the recruiting trail for Midwestern talent, Johnson said. Big Ten newcomers Maryland and Rutgers, who begin league play in 2014, are coming west for talent. Johnson said they’ve bumped heads with their recruiters.
“You never saw Maryland and Rutgers in Chicago or in Missouri before,” Johnson said. “Shoot I recruit Minneapolis; they’re in Minneapolis. So I think that’s what you see they’re trying to pull up the Midwest kids out east a little bit.”
But adding those schools could help Iowa strengthen ties in Maryland and New Jersey. Iowa currently rosters five players from those two states, including four on its two-deeps.
“You talk about the distance a parent has to travel, all the sudden they can see their son play in their home state with a two-hour drive,” Johnson said.
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