Wednesday brings a final reminder of 2012.
Even though Iowa’s football coaches and players quickly put that 4-8 season in the rearview mirror, it continued to linger in the minds of recruits.
And National Signing Day 2014 could be a reflection of those doubts.
The Hawkeyes are expected to receive national letters of intent from 21 players — including four-star prospects Jay Scheel of LaPorte City (Union) and Tyler Wiegers of Detroit — but will draw little fanfare.
“They’ve got a couple impact players, but they’ll finish in the lower half of the Big Ten rankings,” said Josh Helmholdt, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “It’s been tough for Iowa to generate the momentum, the buzz nationally that other teams in the Big Ten and other conferences have been able to do.”
Rivals.com lists Iowa’s recruiting class No. 46 overall and eighth in the Big Ten. Scout.com ranks the Hawkeyes No. 41, seventh in the conference.
“This class was going to be tough for Iowa based on that 4-8,” Rob Howe of HawkeyeInsider.com said. “If you look at what they’re doing in the 2015 class, that’s more of an impact of what they did this past fall.”
An 8-4 regular season in 2013 and Outback Bowl appearance, will pay dividends in the months ahead.
It will also help quell any whispers about coach Kirk Ferentz’s job security.
“Uncertainty is a killer on the recruiting trail,” Helmholdt said. “And even though he’s been in Iowa City forever, after that season in 2012, there certainly was talk.
“And recruits listen to that talk.”
For those who tuned out the rumors, the future is wide open.
Scheel played quarterback for Union, but his athleticism may remind some of former Hawkeye receiver Marvin McNutt.
“He’s going to have to have some time to adjust to playing wide receiver at the college level,” Tom Kakert of HawkeyeReport.com said. “There is (history) to sell him, ‘Hey, you could be a pretty good here.’”
Wiegers, meanwhile, could be the Hawkeyes’ quarterback in waiting.
He originally committed to Rutgers, before switching to Iowa in December.
“I really like Tyler Wiegers,” ESPN’s Tom Luginbill said. “An excellent pocket passer, not too dissimilar to (2013 Iowa starter) Jake Rudock.
“He’s a guy who is going to play from within the pocket, under center, has good ball skills and all the play-action stuff you’re going to see an Iowa offense do.”
The rest of Iowa’s recruits are less heralded, but come with a high ceiling.
“Most of the prospects in this class I would term to be high-end three stars,” Luginbill said. “What we mean by that is, (someone) we think is a BCS-caliber player, with potential to be a two- or three-year starter. And possibly upgrade into something else throughout the course of development.”
Luginbill continued his analysis with a question.
“Well, what do you think of Iowa and development?” he asked. “You think of a coaching staff that does it about as well as anybody in the land, and has for a considerable amount of time.”
Which of these 21 commitments could make an immediate impact?
A few eyebrows were raised when the Hawkeye brought in junior college punter Dillon Kidd. He’ll likely challenge incumbent Connor Kornbrath.
Incoming freshman Mick Ellis may compete for placekicking duties, with No. 2 all-time leading scorer Mike Meyer out of eligibility.
“Ten years ago or even five years ago, you could get a kid who is a punter or kicker to walk on, then maybe earn a scholarship later,” Kakert said. “It’s becoming more and more that you have to scholarship them right out of the gate. Otherwise, you’re not going to get the best kickers and best punters.”