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Ferentz keeps focus on development rather than buzz

[ 0 ] February 6, 2013 |

If you’re an Iowa football fan in need of a boost, signing day may have felt a little flat.

The Hawkeyes received 21 NCAA letters of intent Wednesday, but none generated much of a blue-chip buzz.

Then again, coach Kirk Ferentz has a history of reaching new heights with a modest amount of star power.

“Thirteen or fourteen years ago, I don’t know if they had a star system,” Ferentz said of Internet recruiting services, “but we weren’t racking up a lot of big numbers there, either.”

Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa football team signed five receivers and three tailbacks. "We could have used more help last year," Ferentz said of both positions. (Adam Wesley/The Daily Iowan)

Coach Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa football team signed five receivers and three tailbacks. “We could have used more help last year,” Ferentz said of both positions. (Adam Wesley/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defied the experts from 2002-09 by going to two Orange Bowls and finishing four seasons ranked among the Associated Press top 10.

But the Hawkeyes were 4-8 last fall, and the recruiting class of 2013 is tied with Northwestern for 52nd nationally, according to Rivals.com — and eighth in the Big Ten Conference.

“I think last year we were third, fourth or fifth in the conference,” Ferentz said. “This year, we’re down at the other end, and I’m not sure I can tell you the difference.

“We felt good about last year’s class. We feel good about this one.”

Five wide receivers and three running backs will join Iowa’s roster. Both positions were a point of emphasis.

“We could have used more help last year,” Ferentz said.

Jonathan Parker, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound tailback from St. Louis, was a late addition, choosing the Hawkeyes over Missouri and slew of mid-majors.

“He’s another guy we’ve been watching very closely, probably since December,” Ferentz said. “He’s been on our radar.”

Parker rushed for 1,111 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior.

“He’s a guy we envision using a little bit outside, too,” Ferentz said. “He’s got great speed, and I think gives us a chance for some big plays, not only on offense, but also special teams.”

Parker and Akrum Wadley, from Newark, N.J., brings depth to an Iowa backfield that always seems short handed.

They are also two-star prospects, entering a program that has produced a galaxy of over-achievers.

Remember Scott Chandler, a two-star recruit in 2003, now a tight end with the Buffalo Bills?

How about Pat Angerer, a three-star recruit in 2005, who became a starting linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts?

Micah Hyde, a two-star quarterback in 2009, became an all-Big Ten defensive back and is the Hawkeyes’ best NFL prospect heading into this spring’s draft.

“It’s all those little things that add up,” Ferentz said. “There are a lot of guys with the requisite ability, but it’s really what they do once they take that next step.

“It’s really how guys meet the challenge once they get to college, and how they embrace all the hard work that’s going to be involved.”

Ferentz compared the recruiting of Wadley to Mike Daniels, another New Jersey native who flourished in Iowa City.

Daniels, a two-star player in 2007, started 21 games as a defensive lineman and became a fourth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers.

“Each recruit is a different story, I guess,” Ferentz said. “Some are more obvious than others.”

The absence of a four-star or five-star gem didn’t seem to bother Ferentz, although he would have liked to add another defensive lineman, or two.

“I think evaluations are really subjective,” he said. “It’s really amazing if you look at (the NFL). You look at (Colin) Kaepernick, who played (in the Super Bowl) Sunday, had one offer.

“And he’s pretty good.”

How good is Iowa’s class of 2013? The sky may be the limit.

“We’re obviously very pleased with the class,” Ferentz said. “I think for the most part, we filled most of the needs we felt were important.

“Most importantly, I think we found players we feel are going to fit our program.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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