FERENTZ'S THOUGHTS ON A.J. EPENESA
"Well, you know, the fact that he's a legacy probably helped us a little bit, his mom and dad from day one have been great, and A.J. has been great from day one. I remember coming out of a basketball game during the spring of his sophomore year, he's an impressive young man, and he happened to walk with Mary and I back here from the arena and Mary met him, visited with him. She didn't know who he was and on the car ride home I told her he was a sophomore in high school and she couldn't believe it. She thought he was in college. He's a poised young man, never got -- he is a good football player. My sister could tell you that. That's one that my sister could identify, pretty good athlete, too. But a poised guy, very humble. He's been raised the right way. He's got a -- member of a tremendous family, great support network at home, at school. So he's never been, at least from my vantage point, never been impressed with the whole thing, the process, just taking it day-by-day and has been unwavering in terms of his commitment, which we appreciated and it says a lot about him and his family.
I say it jokingly but I mean it seriously, too, there are certain players that my sister could look at and say that guy is pretty good. I always look at my Jonathan Ogden moment thinking why am I looking at this guy? He's a no-brainer, and some players are really talented. The thing I'm impressed more with is the way he thinks and the way he's made up mentally. He approaches things the right way. He's hungry. He's team oriented. It's all about his team and what's going on at his high school. He played in the Army all-star game and the Polynesian Bowl, done a lot of things outside that brings recognition which a lot of guys would die for, certainly. But it doesn't affect him. He's not been affected by it. It reminds me of, you bump into Marshal Yanda, I ran into him 10days ago, whatever Pro Bowl he was named to, you would never know it in talking to him. He's a humble guy and focused on being good at what he wants to do."
POSITIONS NOT SET IN STONE
This is not referring to Geno Stone, who will be a safety in all likelihood. It does refer to a few other signees in the class that have some position flexibility, and a couple that could even play both sides of the ball and Kirk Ferentz alluded to that.
One definite example that was singled out was Georgia athlete Trey Creamer. There's no clear position for him at this time. They are weighing their options with him and will figure it out once he gets to campus and starts playing. He could be a running back, receiver, or cornerback and possibly even a safety. My money personally would be on corner or receiver.
A few other prospects that could play a couple different positions are Coy Kirkpatrick (offensive guard or defensive tackle), Camron Harrell (cornerback or safety), and A.J. Epenesa (defensive end and defensive tackle).
EXCITEMENT AND IMPORTANCE OF IHMIR SMITH-MARSETTE
Ferentz stated that he was pleased with the way the wide receiver group came together and admitted that a lot of that was in part due to the late addition of Ihmir Smith-Marsette. He compared to Smith-Marsette to Manny Rugamba a number of times which was eye-opening to me. That's a big comparison and one that should have fans excited, as well as the coaching staff. Ferentz also pointed out that Rugamba would have been a receiver a year ago had they not had two senior cornerbacks and a need for a freshman to contribute there right away.
PROCESS OF HIRING THREE ASSISTANT COACHES
We learned a lot about how they will approach the hiring process of filling the voids on the coaching staff. They would have liked to have some hires in place by now but Ferentz admitted that it wasn't practical or realistic with how they had to finish on the recruiting trail down the stretch. He also mentioned that he has the utmost respect for Chris White and Bobby Kennedy but thought those decisions had to be made after careful evaluation.
They want to fill out the rest of the coaching staff the right way, not the fast way. Ferentz will have an open mind when it comes to how they will fill everything out. He said that they do feel like they know how one position will go, and they are focused on candidates for the second position now, and they will get to the third spot afterwards. There's still some wiggle room but a plan is starting to come into focus.
Brian Ferentz does have a say and is involved in the hiring process since he is running the controls of the offense now. It would be the same for Phil Parker if the voids were on the defensive staff. Everybody in the program will be exposed to the candidates because that is important to Ferentz. Professional expertise is important but so is how they get along with everybody and how they work with everybody.
In a perfect world, all the hires will be made within the next two weeks, possibly three according to Kirk Ferentz. It's important to him for the coaches to get in there as soon as possible so that they can begin learning what is expected, what is being asked of them, and getting to know the players that they will be working with.
Kirk Ferentz also said that Brian remaining with the offensive line as offensive coordinator would present some challenges, but that he has an open mind to everything right now and they want to get the three best guys they can find and keep all possibilities open.
FERENTZ ON THE NO-VISIT POLICY
It was a debate throughout the recruiting cycle and appeared to be more of an issue with a few recruits this year than usual. Ferentz did point out that there seemed to be some miscommunication involved and some mixed messages being explained at times, or wasn't communicated properly, but also admitted that he thought it was pretty clear as he was present for one conversation in particular. In general, they feel the same way about it as they did a year ago or six months ago.
Commitment is commitment, and if you choose to do it, they're thrilled, but don't do it until you are ready. If you do commit, then they're going to take your word.
On the topic of recruiting other committed prospects, he said it's the same thing. If the prospect is not sure, they're going to continue to pursue them. If the prospect is sure, then they'll move onto someone else but will ask.
PURSUING OLIVER MARTIN
Kirk Ferentz feels that Iowa was in it until the ends, but respects Martin's decision because he has earned the right to choose where he wants to go to college and play football and get an education. He said it would be wonderful if they got everyone they wanted to, but they don't. They worked as hard as they possibly could to land Martin and there are no regrets. Ferentz mentioned that it would be off-center for him to tell a prospect that he knows what is best for him and that it would be very presumptuous on his part.