The Iowa Hawkeye football team lost some good talent through graduation and transfers.
They restocked last week, signing 24 future Hawkeyes.
Once again I got to sit down with Reece Morgan, offensive line coach, to talk about the new kids on the block.
Reece has coached linemen Marshal Yanda, Bryan Bulaga and Reilly Reif.
Marshall is playing for the Baltimore Ravens, Bryan for the Green Bay Packers and Reilly is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft this April.
The Hawks need to replace three offensive linemen and they signed four last Wednesday, including Mitch Keppy (6-5, 290), Reid Selby (6-4, 250), Ryan Ward (6-5, 275) and junior college transfer Eric Simmons (6-2, 295) who is already on campus.
“Eric is really a good athlete,” said coach Morgan. “We saw him at Iowa Western Community College. High character kid and presidential scholar. We really like him a lot. He’s off to a great start in the weight room.”
Mitch and Reid actually wrestled against each other in high school with Reid getting to victory.
“Mitch is a guy we know a lot about,” said the coach. “He’s been to our football camps every year. He’s tough, strong and athletic. He had a great year and has a good, solid family.”
Mitch’s dad Myron lettered for the Hawks in 1986-1987 and was coached by Kirk Ferentz, who was the o-line coach at the time.
Reid was a last-minute sign. He’ll redshirt and work in the weight room with Chris Doyle.
Ryan Ward is the top-rated lineman of the group out of Illinois. He was all-state, all-conference and named an Army All-American.
“We kind of compare him with Marcus Zusevics and Adam Gettis,” said Morgan. “Only he’s a lot bigger than they were coming in.”
Another name known to the Hawkeyes, Cole Croston (6-6, 235), will walk on for the Hawks.
Cole played football and basketball at Sergeant Bluff-Luton.
One of my homeboys, Kelly Neustrom, who coaches and teaches in Sioux City, talked to Cole’s dad Dave, who played on the 1985 Rose Bowl team.
Dave has been working out with Cole, lifting weights and trying to help his son put on some pounds before he gets to Iowa, according to the Sioux City Journal.
The Journal also said that Mike Malloy (6-0, 180) will walk on at Iowa. Mike, who could play running back or wide receiver, was offered a scholarship earlier but will come in as a preferred walk on.
The Hawks have three wide receivers coming in: Greg Mabin (6-2, 190), Tevaun Smith (6-2, 190) and Cameron Wilson.
All are good athletes. Look for one or two to break into the two-deeps.
Iowa picked up two quarterbacks: Cody Sokol (6-2, 215) and C.J. Beathard (6-2, 180).
Cody put up some big numbers playing at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. He passed for 3,807 yards and 43 touchdowns last year. The best thing about Cody is that he’s already on campus and could redshirt next year.
C. J. was committed to Ole Miss, but a coaching change opened the door for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes need help at running back and picked up two good ones in Greg Garman (6-1, 200) and Barkley Hill (6-0, 210)
Greg is all-world from Erie, Pa. and had 47 scholarship offers, including Miami and Boston College.
Barkley played football at Cedar Falls and was named Parade All-American as a senior.
“We’re going to need both guys,” said coach Morgan. “We have to have somebody that comes in and is ready to play.”
Nate Meier (6-2, 235), who played eight-man football at Freemont-Mills High School in Iowa, is being recruited as an athlete but will start out at running back. He rushed for 500 yards and scored 10 touchdowns… in one game.
“He’s extremely physical and loves to play the game,” said the coach about Nate. “He’s kind of like a Matt Roth mentality.”
George Krieger-Kittle (6-4, 210), who played at West High as a sophomore before moving to Norman, Okla., was also a last-minute sign.
His dad Bruce was a four-year letterman from 1977 to 1981.
Look for George to get a shot at tight end.
Iowa signed one kicker, Connor Kornbrath (6-6, 215), and he will compete for the punting job next fall.
“We needed to go out and get a good punter,” said coach Morgan. “We’ve got a very good one.”
The Hawkeyes lost a couple of defensive backs and defensive linemen so that was a priority in recruiting.
Iowa has four players listed as defensive linemen.
Faith Ekakitie (6-3, 275), Jaleel Johnson (6-4, 300), Drew Ott (6-4, 245) and Daumantas Venckus-Cucchiara will be Hawkeyes next fall.
“I think you have two different groups,” said Reece. “You have the developmental guys and the guys you hope can help us. Faith and Jaleel, we’re hoping they can get on the field next year. Daumantas and Drew are more developmental guys.”
The Hawks recruited only one linebacker this year and he is a good one.
Laron Taylor (6-0, 215) is from Detroit, Mich., was a three-year starter and helped his team win a state championship his senior season.
“He’s a great looking kid,” said coach Morgan. “He’s like Christian Kirksey (who started for Iowa last fall). I think Laron is going to be a diamond in the rough.”
Five recruits are listed at defensive back although one or two might end up at wide receiver.
Ed Hinkel played one day at defensive back and then switched to wide receiver. That didn’t turn out too bad.
Sean Draper (6-0, 180), Kevin Buford (5-10, 170), Maurice Fleming (6-0, 185) Anthony Gair (6-2, 195) and Ruben Lile (6-3, 200) are listed as incoming defensive backs.
Look for Maurice and at least one other defensive back to get a shot on special teams.
Maurice tore his ACL early in his senior season, played quarterback in high school, but will come to the Hawks as a cornerback.
Ruben Lile might have a shot at wide receiver. As a senior, Ruben caught 50 passes for 800 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Who will be the next great Hawkeye?
Who will get hurt?
Who will leave?
We’ll find out.
New coaches for Iowa football
By the time this story comes out, the Hawkeye football team could have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach and new offensive coordinator.
It wasn’t a big surprise that Norm Parker called it quits after Diabetes and a foot amputation slowed down the 70-year-old coach.
Norm was on the sideline doing a job he loved for 48 years and he was one of the best.
Rick Kaczenski, the defensive line coach, bolted to Nebraska to take the same position right before the bowl game. That was a little surprising, especially because he left before Iowa played Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl.
When it was announced last Friday that offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe was leaving the Hawks to coach wide receivers for the Miami Dolphins, I was stunned.
Both Norm and Ken had been Kirk Ferentz’s defensive and offensive coordinators from the beginning, 13 years ago.
This paper will come out Wednesday, Feb. 8, and there will be a football press conference that day.
It will be interesting to see who Kirk picks as new coaches and if offensive coordinator will be one of them.
Wrestlers and basketball teams roll
Isn’t that special… I take the week off so I can cover the new football recruits, and the wrestlers crush Wisconsin 39-3, the men’s basketball team wins two and the Hawkeye women win two.
The men knocked off Minnesota last Thursday at Carver Hawkeye Arena, 63-58, then came back on Saturday in front of Dr. Tom Davis and the 1986-87 basketball team that went 30-5, beating Penn State, 77-64.
The Hawkeye women had to go into overtime to beat Wisconsin, 85-79, in Madison last Thursday.
It was a heavy price to pay as Jaime Printy, Iowa’s leading scorer, tore her ACL and will be lost for the season. Jaime is not only a great player but one of the really good people on and off the court.
Melissa Dixon, who played for the first time against Wisconsin since early January, stepped in for Jaime Sunday at Indiana, played 28 minutes, scored 19 points and had three steals.
Iowa beat the Hoosiers, 83-64.