Iowa does it better than most

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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff do a great job of evaluating and developing players. In fact, Ferentz has a reputation for doing the best job in the nation of developing offensive linemen. Not bad for a Big 10 school located in a state that doesn't produce many blue-chip players.

Iowa was a top 10 team last season. But the Hawkeyes never sign a top 10 recruiting class. Instead, they do a great job of evaluating kids and finding the right kids to fit into their system. This year's class likely will finish fourth in the Big 10 behind Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan. They could finish in the top 30 nationally.

So how do they do it?

They got the only big-time prospect in Iowa this year, 6-4, 220-pound quarterback A.J. Derby, who is going to Iowa to play quarterback but could be an All-Big 10 linebacker. His father played linebacker at Iowa.

The other Iowa product that the Hawkeyes offered was 6-2, 280-pound defensive tackle Austin Blythe of Williamsburg. It shows that there isn't an abundance of football talent in Iowa. In fact, Iowa offered only three in-state players this year.

But Ferentz and his staff have done an excellent job elsewhere. They got two outstanding Illinois players, C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg, the best tight end in the nation, and 6-3, 235-pound defensive end Louis Trinca-Pasat of Lane Tech.

Another standout is 6-7, 285-pound offensive tackle Andrew Donnal of Whitehorse, Ohio.

Iowa went to Baltimore to get two commitments from the Gilman School, 6-2, 215-pound linebacker Jim Poggi, the head coach's son, and 6-2, 280-pound defensive tackle Anthony Ferguson.

From Appleton, Wis., came 6-5, 260-pound defensive end/punter Mike Hardy.

The Hawkeyes went to Michigan to get 6-2, 220-pound linebacker Austin Gray of Warren and 6-5, 300-pound defensive tackle Carl Davis of Sterling Heights.

They also did a good job in St. Louis by landing two players from Hazelwood East, 6-2, 200-pound wide receiver/defensive back Christian Kirksey and 6-2, 185-pound wide receiver/defensive back Don Shumpert.

They went to basketball-minded DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md., to get running back Marcus Coker.

Two sleepers in the class are 6-6, 300-pound offensive lineman Brandon Scherff of Dennison, Iowa, and 5-8, 210-pound running back DeAndre Johnson of Miami, Fla.

Aside from Derby, they aren't household names now. It will be interesting to see if they are headliners in three or four years.

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Mr. Lemming:

Perhaps you might not be aware that Austin Blythe is a high school junior and will be a senior next fall. He is also a high school wrestling champion in Iowa. It remains to be seen which sport he chooses in college. FYI Iowa has won 22 NCAA National Championships in wrestling, including the last two NCAA Titles. The Hawkeyes are undefeated in dual competition this year despite several injuries and are ranked No. 1. They already have beaten Iowa State and Oklahoma State, perennially ranked powerhouse teams.

J. Wilson

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on January 20, 2010 4:22 PM.

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