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Hospitalization controversy not affecting recruits

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | JANUARY 31, 2011 7:10 AM

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Some said the recent hospitalization of 13 Iowa football players — or the controversy surrounding it — could affect recruiting.

Take ESPN.com’s Pat Forde, who blasted head coach Kirk Ferentz in his Jan. 28 column.

“Even if Ferentz is absolved of any responsibility in this matter, his absence and silence during a troubling week at Iowa should tell recruits and their families plenty about how much he cares for his players,” Forde wrote.

Apparently incoming recruits haven’t received the memo yet.

Of the 20 unsigned players in the 2011 class who have announced their intent to play for Iowa, none have experienced a last-minute change of mind — at least not in the form of a de-commitment.

Williamsburg offensive lineman Austin Blythe — who credited Iowa’s strength and conditioning program as one of his reasons for choosing the Hawkeyes — doesn’t seem to be having second thoughts.

“[Iowa strength and conditioning] is the best in the country, no doubt about it, regardless of this hiccup,” Blythe said. “It’s just a rare occurrence.

“[Head strength and conditioning] coach [Chris] Doyle is going to figure it out and fix it.”

The time for recruits to make their choices binding has almost arrived — national signing day is Wednesday. Recruiting analyst Tom Kakert of hawkeyereport.com said he believes most recruits have made their decisions. Still, with the nature of modern-day recruiting, Kakert wouldn’t be surprised if some Iowa-committed recruits received calls from other coaches in the past week making last-minute sales pitches.

Led by new head coach Al Golden, Miami (Fla.) made a late push for quarterback Jake Rudock of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last week. Though Miami’s last-minute pursuit of the future Hawkeye began before Jan. 24’s hospitalizations, the scholarship offer was on the table. Rudock — who said he grew up a fan of the Hurricanes — declined and said the incident didn’t worry him.

Kakert said he thinks most recruits, like Rudock, are virtually done with the process this close to signing day.

“I think most of them are settled into what they’re going to do and where they want to go,” Kakert said. “I don’t think it affects this class.”

Kakert is also skeptical that the incident will affect the decisions of prospects Iowa is still pursuing.

The Hawkeyes even nabbed a new commitment on Sunday, which was confirmed by recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson on Twitter. The NCAA restricts coaches from discussing individual recruits until they sign letters of intent, though newerascouting.com’s Scott Porter reported the commit to be three-star defensive back Jordan Lomax of Hyattsville, Md., who was a high-school teammate of Iowa freshman Marcus Coker.

Iowa is still a possible destination for two more of Coker’s former teammates, Cyrus Kouandjio, who is tabbed as the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle in the class of 2011 by Rivals.com, and three-star defensive tackle Darian Cooper. But if neither chooses to sign with the Hawkeyes, Kakert doesn’t believe the hospitalizations will be the reason.

“The fact is [Ferentz] could tell them much of what he said in his statement — he’s had two of his sons in this program who have done this workout,” Kakert said. “I think when you can talk to parents about that as a parent and less as a football coach, that reassures them that this isn’t a dangerous situation for them.”


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