Iowa football storylines to watch: Recruiting, the transfer portal, coaching staff and more

Iowa football storylines to watch: Recruiting, the transfer portal, coaching staff and more

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Hoping for a second straight Big Ten West Division title, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz should concentrate on a vital month for his program each in 2023 and past.

Next Monday, a brand new transfer portal window opens in contrast to something we have ever seen, and Iowa has holes at a number of positions. National Signing Day takes place on Dec. 21, and the Hawkeyes have 20 commitments to shut. Also, will there be any coaching staff adjustments, will the staff goal a brand new quarterback in the portal and will the Hawkeyes strive to hold some seniors for a sixth season?

There are many questions that go together with the group’s preparation for a bowl recreation, which will likely be introduced on Sunday. Here are 5 matters Ferentz ought to prioritize this month.

Provide recruiting class

With about three weeks left till signing day, Iowa has 20 commitments. The Hawkeyes have had two departures this fall — working again Kendrick Raphael and defensive finish David Caulker — however have picked up 5 new pledges over the previous month. Iowa is ranked No. 25 in the 247Sports Composite Rating, however that features five-star offensive sort out Kadyn Proctor. The 8-foot-8, 335-pound behemoth visited Oregon earlier this month however stays dedicated to Iowa. He plans to enroll in January.

“Recruiting never stops,” Ferentz mentioned. “It’s interesting, it’s probably less pronounced in December compared to maybe five years ago, but you have the transfer portal and all that stuff. This is completely different – ​​this is on the rise, if you will.”

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Breaking down the Iowa Hawkeyes’ 2023 commitments

The Hawkeyes have a well-balanced 2023 class with a focus on the offensive line. They’ve drafted three receivers, including two this fall, plus a running back. Iowa also has its quarterback in Marco Lainez III.

Most of the departures come on defense with 10 seniors graduating. Among the commits, nine are on defense with four on the line. Iowa Western College defensive tackle Anterio Thompson plans to enroll in January, and he could immediately compete as a rotational linebacker.

Iowa still has offers, but it’s essential to secure the current class. Proctor could become Iowa’s opening day starter as a true freshman, while four-star Trevor Lauck could make the depth chart.

Appoint the coaching staff

The Hawkeyes finished the regular season with one of the nation’s best defenses. Well, the offense tried hard. Iowa averaged 255.4 yards per game, the Big Ten’s worst regular-season rushing average since at least Ferentz took over in 1999. The running game averaged 2.9 yards per carry, while the quarterbacks combined to completed 54.8 percent of their passes and threw six touchdowns. and seven interceptions. The 37 sacks allowed were the most for the program since 2007. By every statistical measure, the offense failed.

Ferentz took a risk moving his son, Brian, from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator in 2017. Then this year, Brian Ferentz switched from tight ends to quarterback as his primary position group. It was not well received when it was announced, and public outrage has worsened since opening day. Whether the biggest culprit is the call, scheme, coordination, personnel or execution, it all starts with who is pulling the levers. The two biggest thumbs up go to Kirk and Brian Ferentz.

Statistics alone dictate a necessary move, but Kirk Ferentz’s strengths of loyalty and stubbornness often clash when it comes to personnel changes. This goes double when it comes to his eldest son’s appreciation.

“I have a look at the complete image,” Kirk Ferentz said. “Coordinators are essential in minimizing (errors) in every of the three phases. It nonetheless will depend on the gamers doing issues they’re able to doing. You have to be life like about what you will have, what their expertise ranges are, issues like that. These are issues I’m all the time serious about earlier than I kind an opinion on one thing. At the finish of the day, it is about discovering a approach to win.”

In the quick time period, profitable can be an enemy of long-term progress.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, left, named his son, Brian, Hawkeyes offensive coordinator in 2017. (Jeffrey Becker / USA Today)

Central defender

Three-year athlete Spencer Petras got here out to cheer at his senior day ceremony, and he has an additional yr on his arms. But Petra’s return for a sixth season will not be mutually useful for both aspect. He is a profession 56.9 p.c passer with 24 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Over the final two seasons, he has 15 landing passes and 14 picks. Petras might have a recent begin if he desires to stick in faculty, whereas the Hawkeyes might additionally use a recent face behind middle.

Backup Alex Padilla, a junior, graduates subsequent month. He began three video games in 2021, then this yr performed a half in opposition to Ohio State and more than three quarters in opposition to Nebraska on Friday. Every time Padilla was in a race with Petras, he misplaced. Padilla has two years of eligibility remaining due to 2020 COVID-19, however he could also be taking a look at one other alternative after not getting a lot in Iowa.

“I haven’t had a chance to really think about any of that right now,” Padilla mentioned Friday. “I’m just reflecting on this loss and I’m going to continue to try to improve as a player myself and look towards the next two weeks as a kind of building for myself. I have time to reflect in the next two weeks, but we’ll see what happens.”

Iowa could have redshirt freshman Joey Labas, true freshman Carson May and Lainez subsequent season. Will Padilla inherit the job, keep and compete or depart? Will Iowa hit the transfer portal or stick with the established order?

Transfer portal

There will likely be additions and departures. But how a lot and through which positions? It will depend on how aggressive Ferentz and his staff need to get when the transfer window opens subsequent Monday.

Ferentz’s desire is to go after gamers with commonalities, whether or not that is a prospect the coaches recruited out of highschool or somebody who demonstrated work ethic at a lower-tier program and grew into an Iowa-type participant. Some of Iowa’s high transfers embody defensive sort out Jack Heflin from Northern Illinois and defensive finish Zach VanValkenburg from Division II Hillsdale. Both are on NFL observe squads.

The Hawkeyes have areas that require enchancment, significantly quarterback, offensive line and receivers. It’s seemingly that Iowa will lose at the very least a number of gamers in purpose, possibly even key contributors. This will have an effect on emergency ranges. Staff ought to be prepared with a plan as quickly as the portal opens. Otherwise, Iowa might fall behind instantly.

Candidates for extravites

Iowa had one in all its largest courses at its senior day ceremonies with 27 gamers, together with 18 scholarship gamers. All of them, besides cornerback Riley Moss, are eligible to return for a fifth or sixth season. There are some who’re no-brainer picks in the NFL Draft and are unlikely to return, like linebacker Jack Campbell and tight finish Sam LaPorta. Then there are others who both weren’t on the depth chart or carried out solely on particular groups and will put their Big Ten schooling to use beginning subsequent yr.

But there are many senior starters who could have NFL alternatives as late-round draft picks or free agent candidates, however might enhance their future prospects by returning for an additional yr. Regardless of their choices, Ferentz inspired all seniors to stroll in the ceremony on Friday.

“We haven’t had those conversations yet,” Ferentz mentioned. “As far as I know, there’s still no NCAA rule if you walk, you’re ineligible from there on out. As long as we don’t give them a thousand dollars on the way out…

“They can all the time change their minds. If they’ve second ideas, it will undoubtedly be value a consideration. We’ll have a few them on the approach, however now go and be honorable.”

Based on present depth, receiver Nico Ragaini and cornerback Terry Roberts could possibly be at the high of the want listing of potential returning prospects. One of the high three defensive gamers — Noah Shannon, Joe Evans, John Wagoner — may be in the recreation, as is linebacker Seth Benson. Even only one returnee may help the program in 2023.

(Alex Padilla Featured Photo: Keith Gillett / Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Images)

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