Notebook: Brian Ferentz, LeVar Woods valuable to recruiting

BY SETH ROBERTS | MARCH 08, 2012 6:30 AM

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LeVar Woods and Brian Ferentz possess three qualities important in recruiting that the Iowa football coaching staff has lacked in recent years.

Both are young; Woods is 33, and Ferentz is a few weeks shy of 29.

Both are former Iowa players who hail from the state; Woods was born in Cleveland but grew up in Inwood and graduated in 2000. Ferentz is an Iowa City native and played from 2002-05.

Finally — and perhaps most importantly — both are NFL veterans.

Woods spent seven years in the league, splitting time among Arizona, Detroit, Tennessee, and Chicago.

"To be honest, I didn't think about the recruiting aspect until [recruiting coordinator Eric] Johnson mentioned playing in the NFL helps," Woods said at a press conference on Wednesday. "… Maybe it adds a little bit of credibility, but I look to being a product of this program more so than the NFL."

Ferentz — the eldest son of head coach Kirk Ferentz — played on Atlanta's practice squad for a year, but he truly whet his teeth on the coaching side of the football. He was New England's tight-end coach and helped turn Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez into a record-setting one-two punch.

He said the most difficult aspect of returning to his hometown was being thrust into the thick of recruiting; the difference, he said, is in the level of personal commitment college recruiting demands.

"A lot of the work is done for you [in the NFL]; by the time those names hit your desk, it's a pretty short list," he said. "[Recruiting is] one of the first things I did … I studied harder than I've probably studied since college, actually staying up at night cramming."

Still, he said the hard work paid off. Recruiting isn't a chore, he said; he enjoyed "interacting with the high-school kids."

And that's a good thing, because both he and Woods will do a lot of it in the coming months.

Kirk Ferentz said he hasn't completely decided on where he'll send the duo to recruit, but he's close.

"Right now, we're looking at shifting Brian to Ohio and letting him concentrate on that," he said. "LeVar is probably looking at Kansas City down to Dallas."

Woods will likely be aided, at least in the spring, by newly hired offensive coordinator Greg Davis. The 60-year-old is from the Lone Star State, and his last coaching job was a 13-year stint at Texas.

"[Davis] can certainly help LeVar get around, introduce him to a lot of people down there," Ferentz said. "It would be silly to not take advantage of that opportunity."

New England and Florida — areas previously handled by departed offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe and defensive-line coach Rick Kaczenski, respectively — will be "spot" areas that rely on word of mouth through existing connections, Ferentz said.

Coordinator search 'like getting divorced'

Brian Ferentz shed some light on the process with which his father searched for replacements for former coordinators Norm Parker and O'Keefe. He said it was more difficult for Kirk Ferentz than the head coach might care to admit.

"He said it must be like getting divorced after being married a long time and then, all of a sudden, having to date," Brian Ferentz said. "… He had been married a long time to a couple of guys, and I think he had become married to the system, the terminology, the things like that. It's natural, comfortable."

O'Keefe and Parker each spent 13 years with Kirk Ferentz in Iowa; Davis and new defensive chief Phil Parker will be first new coordinators Ferentz will work with since he came to Iowa City in 1999.

Follow DI Sports Editor Seth Roberts on Twitter.

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