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Recruiting 2012: Ferentz's 'happy day' means 24 new Hawkeyes

BY SETH ROBERTS | FEBRUARY 02, 2012 7:20 AM

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The Iowa football team signed 22 prep recruits on Wednesday as part of National Signing Day; they will join a pair of JuCo transfers who signed letters of intent a few weeks ago.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz described the class of 2012 at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon and said he's "really happy with the class overall."

"We certainly felt like we had some needs to meet and address, and I think we did that," he said. "… signing day is always a happy day, and it's certainly a happy day for the prospects and their families; it's a real celebration of having a good high-school career."

The class includes eight linemen (four on each side of the ball), five defensive backs, three wideouts, a linebacker, a kicker, and a pair each of quarterbacks, tailbacks, and athletes.

Most of the group was mapped out before signing day, but the Hawkeyes also picked up a couple more recruits on Wednesday morning. Reid Sealby is a two-star offensive lineman from Illinois; George Krieger-Kittle is a three-star athlete from Norman, Okla., and is the son of former Hawkeye lineman Bruce Kittle.

"We're really thrilled about him," Ferentz said about the 6-4, 210-pound Krieger-Kittle. "He's an in-between player; not sure what positions he's going to play, but I certainly like his competitiveness … we think he's a guy that has a chance in our program to blossom and develop, so we're really excited."

The feeling appears to be mutual; Krieger-Kittle called Iowa City "home" on Twitter and told hawkeyeinsider.com's Robe Howe that getting a call from Iowa was "literally a dream come true."

"I've been imagining this day since I've been in the fifth grade playing tackle football for the first time," he told Howe. "The second [Ferentz] called me, the legs got weak. I had to sit down."

Ferentz said Krieger-Kittle could bulk up and see time at linebacker or tight end; playing the latter position would make him the only tight end in the class.

That shouldn't prove to be a problem because the Hawkeyes have five tight ends on the roster and had more pressing needs elsewhere — especially at running back and on the offensive and defensive lines.

The hole at tailback was filled by four-star Greg Garmon (Erie, Pa.) and three-star Barkley Hill (Cedar Falls). Garmon was locked up in early January, but Hill waited until Jan. 23 to switch his commitment from Iowa State. Tom Kakert, a recruiting analyst for hawkeyereport.com, said Hill's move provided a telling glimpse into Ferentz's recruiting strategy after two running backs left the team this off-season.

"Iowa kept after him and kept in touch and probably would never have recruited him if Marcus Coker and Mika'il McCall hadn't left," Kakert told The Daily Iowan on Tuesday. "He probably would still be going to Iowa State."

The prizes in the trenches are Faith Ekakitie and Jaleel Johnson on the defense and Ryan Ward on offense; all three are four-star prospects from Illinois. Ferentz is still waiting for word from four-star offensive guard Alex Kozan, who orally committed to Iowa over Michigan and Auburn on Monday but didn't sign. He appears to be still be considering all three schools.

For now, though, Ferentz's mind is on the players he did officially reel in. He said there will be plenty of opportunities for his incoming freshmen to see some playing time — but that doesn't mean it will be easy to do so.

"There's a lot of hard work that goes into that; if you want to get out on the field next September, you're going to have to work really hard," he said. "You look at guys like [Tony] Moeaki and [Bryan] Bulaga, guys who came in and played as freshmen. Look at the work they did before they got here and once they got here. That's really what it takes, but we've got a really open mind to where we're heading."

Iowa's class of 2012

C.J. Beathard — 6-2, 180-pound QB; Franklin, Tenn.

Kevin Buford — 5-10, 170-pound DB; Canton, Mich.

Sean Draper — 6-0, 180-pound DB; Cleveland

Faith Ekakitie — 6-3, 275-pound DL; Lake Forest, Ill.

Maurice Fleming — 6-0, 185-pound DB; Chicago

Anthony Gair — 6-2, 195-pound DB; Plano, Texas

Greg Garmon — 6-1, 200-pound RB; Erie, Pa.

Barkley Hill — 6-0, 210-pound RB; Cedar Falls, Iowa

Jaleel Johnson — 6-4, 300-pound DL; Lombard, Ill.

Mitch Keppy — 6-5, 290-pound OL; Port Byron, Ill.

George Krieger-Kittle — 6-4, 210-pound ATH; Norman, Okla.

Connor Kornbrath — 6-6, 215-pound K; Bridgeport, W.Va.

Ruben Lile — 6-3, 200-pound DB; Detroit

Greg Mabin — 6-2, 190-pound WR; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Nate Meier — 6-2, 235-pound ATH; Tabor, Iowa

Drew Ott — 6-4, 245-pound DL; Giltner, Neb.

Reid Sealby — 6-4, 250-pound OL; Byron, Ill.

Eric Simmons — 6-2, 295-pound OL; Madrid, Iowa (JuCo)

Tevaun Smith — 6-2, 190-pound WR; Kent, Conn.

Cody Sokol — 6-2, 215-pound QB; Phoenix (JuCo)

Laron Taylor — 6-0, 215-pound LB; Detroit

Daumantas Venckus-Cucchiara — 6-5, 230-pound DL; Weston, Fla.

Ryan Ward — 6-5, 275-pound OL; New Lenox, Ill.

Cameron Wilson — 6-1, 195-pound WR; Dublin, Ohio

Follow DI Sports Editor Seth Roberts on Twitter.


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