If the purpose of a Junior Day is to inspire those who attend, Kirk Ferentz and his Iowa football coaching staff were successful Saturday.
Nearly 30 prospects for the 2015 recruiting class from several Midwestern states withstood the wintry conditions to take a closer look at the program.
The juniors, which included Regina quarterback Drew Cook and West High defensive back Tyler Eads, gathered in the snow at 9 a.m. Saturday near the statue of Nile Kinnick on the south entrance of Kinnick Stadium to begin their experience.
It was a chance for both sides to get better acquainted, but also a chance for Iowa to deliver its recruiting message, with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle doing the honors.
Veteran recruiting analyst Tom Lemming also was in Iowa City to interview the 2015 prospects for his annual publication in which he ranks the top seniors-to-be in each state for the upcoming season.
“I left motivated and inspired by strength coach Chris Doyle’s message of what it takes to be successful at the next level,” Drew Cook wrote in an email.
Cook said the best part of the day was listening to a panel of current Iowa players describe what it’s like being a UI student-athlete. Drew also has heard his father, former Iowa all-America tight end Marv Cook, describe that experience, but Saturday was special because only a select few players were invited to hear it.
“I had a great time at Iowa Junior Day and I was extremely honored to have been invited,” Drew Cook said.
Like most of the juniors who attended, Drew Cook doesn’t have a scholarship offer from Iowa. Being invited simply means that he is on Iowa’s radar and that his progress will be closely monitored.
It’s easy to see why the Iowa coaches are interested in Drew Cook, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs about 200 pounds. He threw for more than 2,500 yards as a first-team all-state quarterback this past season, leading Regina to the Class 1A state title and is now averaging more than 20 points per game for the undefeated Regina basketball team. Drew also runs well for somebody his size, which could lead to other opportunities.
Marv Cook was a standout quarterback in high school before switching to tight end at Iowa, where he was on scholarship throughout his career. Perhaps Drew will have the same opportunity.
West Des Moines Dowling Catholic quarterback Ryan Boyle also was impressed with what he saw and heard. Boyle met with Ferentz and with Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis to discuss his recruitment in more detail.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” said Boyle, who led Dowling to the Class 4A state title and a 14-0 record this past season. “It was a great experience and I really got to talk one-on-one with coach Davis and coach Ferentz.”
Boyle is still waiting for his first scholarship offer, but he’s hearing from several BCS schools on a regular basis, including Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Kansas State, Cincinnati and Michigan State. He said the Iowa coaches still seem interested despite already having received a commitment from 6-6 high school junior quarterback Jack Beneventi, who is from suburban Chicago.
“From what coach Davis and coach Ferentz told me, they’re still really interested in me and that they want me to keep in contact,” Boyle said.
The 6-2 Boyle is working to improve his strength in the offseason and he currently weighs 210 pounds. He is a proven runner who blossomed as a passer this past season.
“I feel like I really showed through my progress in the season that I have a Division I arm,” Boyle said.
West Des Moines Valley offensive lineman John Raridon was one of the few who received a scholarship offer while attending Saturday’s Junior Day event, but, ironically, he’s only sophomore. The fact that Ferentz pulled the trigger this early speaks volumes about Raridon’s potential.
The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in Raridon’s case. His father played college football at Nebraska, one older brother played at Notre Dame and another is a defensive lineman at Wisconsin.
Speaking of family ties, the younger brother of former Iowa all-Big Ten offensive lineman Riley Reiff recently told HawkeyeInsider.com he was offered a scholarship to Iowa.
Brady Reiff is listed as a 6-foot-4, 215-pound athlete from Parkston, S.D. He has played several positions in high school, including defensive end, so it’s hard to project where he’ll end up in college.
Riley Reiff began his career at Iowa as a defensive end before switching to the offensive line, where he now starts for the Detroit Lions.
GRAY SHIRT OFFER: The Iowa coaches have a history of offering scholarships to instate kids late in the recruiting process. Waukee offensive lineman Ross Reynolds is the latest example.
Reynolds said Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan extended him a gray shirt offer Monday with the possibility of him being on scholarship at the start of the 2014 season. As a gray shirt, Reynolds would come to Iowa as a walk-on for the 2014 season before being put on scholarship.
Reynolds told HawkeyeReport.com that he plans to visit the Iowa campus this weekend.
Iowa currently has 19 players committed to its 2014 recruiting class, all of whom are high school seniors.
STAYING PUT: Despite a late a rush by several high-major programs including Iowa, offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor plans to stick with his commitment to Western Michigan.
The Southfield, Mich., native told HawkeyeReport.com that he enjoyed his visit to Western Michigan this past weekend and that he thinks he’s done with the recruiting process.
In addition to Iowa, Okorafor also had scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Florida and Virginia.
DETROIT’S FINEST: Two members of Iowa’s 2014 recruiting class are listed on the Detroit News Blue Chip rankings of top 60 local football recruits.
Quarterback Tyler Wiegers was ranked sixth on the list, while defensive back/receiver Jalen Embry was ranked 17th overall. Wiegers previously was committed to Rutgers before switching to Iowa on Dec. 20.
2014 IOWA FOOTBALL RECRUITING CLASS
With position, home town, height, weight, rating and date of commitment
Mick Ellis, K, Lucas, Texas, 5-9, 190, 3-star, 7/8/13
Jalen Embry, ATH, Detroit, Mich., 5-11, 180, 3-star, 10/6/13
Terrance Harris, DE, Paramus, N.J., 6-3, 250, 3-star, 7/16/13
Parker Hesse, ATH, Waukon, 6-3-208, NR, 11/26/13
C.J. Hilliard, RB, Cincinnati, Ohio, 5-10, 185, 3-star, 6/6/13
Josh Jackson, DB, Corinth, Texas, 6-1, 170, 3-star, 8/22/13
Marcel Joly, DB, Forestville, Md., 5-11, 180, 2-star, 9/23/13
Jyaz Jones, DB, Dallas, Texas, 6-1, 180, 2-star, 6/14/13
Lucas LeGrand, OL, Dubuque, 6-5, 260, 3-star, 4/3/13
Aaron Mends, LB, Kansas City, Mo., 6-0, 200, 3-star, 8/17/13
Matt Nelson, DE, Cedar Rapids, 6-8, 240, 3-star, 6/27/13
Ben Niemann, ATH, Sycamore, Ill., 6-3, 200, 3-star, 7/20/13
Jameer Outsey, LB, Somerset, N.J., 6-3, 225, 3-star, 6/21/13
Keegan Render, OL, Indianola, 6-3, 310, 3-star, 6/22/13
Jay Scheel, ATH, La Porte City, 6-1, 170, 4-star, 1/20/13
Markel Smith, RB, St. Louis, 5-10, 210, 4-star, 11/5/13
Omar Truitt, DB, Washington D.C., 5-10, 180, 3-star, 6/3/13
Tyler Wiegers, QB, Detroit, 6-4, 215, 4-star, 12/20/13
Dillon Kidd, P, Torrance, Calif., 6-1, 210, 2-star, 1/9/14
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football