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Notebook: Ferentz "enthused" with 2015 class

BY DANNY PAYNE | FEBRUARY 05, 2015 5:00 AM

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Kirk Ferentz apologized for his tardiness as he got settled behind the microphone at the Feller Club Room in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Before he got into the specifics of his latest class of recruits — all 21 of whom are either enrolled at Iowa or have signed national letters of intent Wednesday — he assured the media he wasn’t trying to add any dramatics in “any way, shape, or form.”

Of course, that’s not to say Wednesday, college football’s national signing day, didn’t come without any drama. Early in the morning, three-star running back Karan Higdon flipped his commitment from Iowa to Michigan, then the Hawkeyes picked up two-star running back Eric Graham from Prattville, Alabama.

Despite the late change, Ferentz said he’s “enthused” with his class, saying he’s happy with his staff’s performance throughout the process.

“The whole group from our vantage point is a very quality group,” Ferentz said about the recruits. “We’re very impressed with each and every one of the players who have chosen to join us … and just, again, very, very pleased.”

But Ferentz’s sentiments may not mirror those of the Iowa fan base — this class has come under some criticism. Rivals has the crop ranked No. 58, its lowest since 2009, when Iowa ranked 63rd. Even more, Iowa’s only four-star recruit (according to Rivals.com) is offensive lineman James Daniels.

To his credit, however, recruiting ratings are merely educated estimates, and as former Wisconsin defender and 2014 NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt reminded his Twitter followers Wednesday, he was a two-star recruit coming out of high school.

That’s not to say, by any means, Iowa has a J.J. Watt in this class, but no one can predict the future.

Happy to be in Texas

This season, Iowa doubled its number of scholarship athletes from Texas. Last year, Iowa signed kicker Mick Ellis and defensive back Josh Jackson. This year, wide-receiver coach Bobby Kennedy and linebacker coach LeVar Woods — who take on the brunt of the recruiting in Texas — increased that haul

The Hawkeyes signed two-star linebacker Justin Jinning in addition to three-star wide receivers Emmanuel Ogwo and Jerminic Smith, along with linebacker Angelo Garbutt.

“Every time I go down there, I think it becomes more obvious to me we’d be foolish not to, because it seems like there’s a new high school in a neighborhood every time you go down there,” Ferentz said. “… But with that, the football has always been good there, the coaching is outstanding.”

New facility has early impact

With Iowa’s new Football Operations Center officially in use, Ferentz said the Hawkeyes are seeing positive results.

The team held a visit day for roughly 60 high-school juniors and their families in January that was, by Ferentz’s account, widely successful with the help of the new building, which Iowa began using toward the end of last season.

“There wasn’t a prospect or a parent that I visited with that didn’t comment about the facility,” Ferentz said. “But that’s really affected me just how important it’s going to be for us, because I think everybody was polite before; they didn’t mention anything and say anything; they were just polite about it, but just the overwhelming feedback that we got a couple Sundays ago, it does make a difference, and it’s something people take note of.”

Potential changes

Ferentz didn’t spend all of Wednesday answering questions about recruits. He also answered a few questions about his coaching staff next season and, you guessed it, quarterbacks.

Ferentz said now that recruiting slows down, he’ll take time to evaluate his staff more in-depth. He didn’t say there are going to be changes but did say it’s a possibility.

The head coach said he doesn’t expect any faces to change on the staff, but did say, “there might be changes in seats.”

As for quarterbacks, he’s expecting both Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard to be around in 2015.

“[Beathard and I have] had conversations,” Ferentz said. “He’s back here training, working out. He’s got a great attitude, but at the same time, too, I’m realistic about it and realize anything is possible. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out, but he’s been working and working hard.”

And Rudock?

“Yep, same deal, yep.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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