Some of you may remember a regular column that I wrote on previous versions of HawkeyeNation.com called ‘Bit's and Pieces'.
Like so many of the other items that I started on HN.com, this will be a feature that I will bring back out of ‘dormancy', along with our Monday Morning Quarterback Series with Chuck Hartlieb that will start up again on October 7th, plus the ‘Inside the Numbers' segment that many of you may be familiar with.
Since I have been ‘offline' for the past four months, I figured a ‘Bit's and Pieces' column might be a good way to start since there is a lot to cover.
On the basketball front… HawkeyeNation.com has always had the best insight into Hawkeye Basketball and recruiting, and that trend figures to continue.
As many of you know, Iowa is not long on scholarships for the next couple of seasons. With the recent commitment of Carlton Reed, Iowa is down to just one more scholarship that is available for the rest of this year and next year's recruiting class, combined.
The clear-cut front runner for that scholarship is Doug Thomas of SCC in Burlington. Doug is on a ‘zero tolerance' leash right now not only with the Hawkeye Basketball program, but on his JUCO team, the defending National Champions Blackhawks.
If Doug has a good year of citizenship on and off the court in Burlington, then expect to see him suited up in the black and gold next fall. If he missteps even slightly, then all bets are off.
However, Iowa is not just sitting back and putting all of their eggs in the Thomas basket.
There is another name on the radar screen that Iowa is actively involved with and he is Robert Faulkner of South Plains, TX Community College. Here is an older link on Robert that can help you get familiar with him. LINK
Faulkner is a rebounding machine and was a standout for Peoria Richwoods. He recently hurt his knee, which has caused some colleges to back off of him a little bit, but he is very, very interested in the Hawkeye basketball program and he is a name to keep in the back of your mind.
Still, my bet is on Doug Thomas should he remain a good citizen for the next eight months and stay away from some of the trouble that he saw last winter. Thomas has gotten his academics in order, posting nearly a 3.0 grade point average last year in the classroom.
That would leave Iowa with ZERO scholarships to offer in the recruiting class of 2004-2005. But that does not mean that Iowa is done with this year's crop of junior's.
Iowa is speaking to 6-11 center Ross Marzden of Ames, Iowa and to big man Travis Nelson of Linn-Mar.
Though Iowa can not offer either player a scholarship their first year out of high school, the Hawkeyes are very interested in both prospects and are hoping that one of them may be willing to walk on to the program for one year and then go on scholarship after that.
Hawkeye coaches spent much of the month of September scouting sophomore and freshman prospects, as college coaches were allowed to be on the road for nearly the entire month.
As far as instate prospects go, the Hawkeyes are looking at 6-2 guard Jason Bohannon of Linn-Mar and 6-5 wing Crayshaun King of Des Moines Hoover.
A nearby prospect to remember is 6-5 Jon Scheyer of Glenbrook North High in Glenbrook, Illinois. Marquette and Cal have been rumored to have offered this athletic yet sharp shooting player, and I have also heard that you might be able to add Iowa's name to that list, although I have not been able to confirm that 100-percent. His high school coach is the brother of new Illini head man Bruce Webber. Scheyer is considered one of the best, if not the best, class of 2006 prospect in the state of Illinois. Some have said that he is an ‘athletic Steve Alford'.
The Hawkeyes also have their eyes on one of the best freshman in the state of Indiana, if not the nation, in Eric Gardner of North Central High School in Indianapolis. The 6-2 guard hails from the same high school as former Hawkeye recruiting target and Indiana verbal commitment AJ Ratliff.
As we all know by now, the Hawkeyes had a successful out of season trip to Australia, going 4-1 on their trip down under.
From all the accounts I have heard lately, this group of Hawkeyes are working extremely hard from the best player to the last man on the bench. Unfortunately, that was not the case in seasons past.
But, it certainly bodes well for the 2003-2004 Hawkeye squad. Look for Nick DeWitz to play some underneath on defense as the Hawkeyes are not yet convinced that he can move out onto the perimeter and guard the opposing ‘3'.
Also, don't be surprised to see a lot of Mike Henderson in the Hawkeye backcourt this season teamed up with Jeff Horner and Pierre Pierce.
In my opinion, this year's Hawkeye squad might have the best front court depth of any team in the conference. We all saw the progress made by Jared Reiner and Sean Sonderleiter last year and Greg Brunner turned in a solid rookie campaign under the glass.
As has been the case in each of the last couple of seasons, the maturation of Glen Worley will be of paramount importance to this year's team. Worley can do a lot on the basketball court when he is focused, which also means staying out of foul problems, something he has not done in his career and did not do on Iowa's trip to Australia.
It might be too much to expect him to all of the sudden come out and be a changed man during his senior year, but IF he can do that, Iowa should, at the least, challenge for an upper division finish in the conference this season.
On the football front, the Hawkeyes recently landed another instate commitment, this time in the form of Ankeny's Andy Brodell. He is one of the best athletes in the state of Iowa and had offers from Iowa State and Pittsburgh prior to accepting Iowa scholarship offer from a week ago.
In head to head recruiting battles with Iowa State this year, the Hawkeyes have the early 3-0 head to head advantage. The other two players that had offers from both the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes were Michael Sabers and Mitch King.
There are two more players in the state that have a common offer from both schools: running backs Greg Coleman and Jason Scales. Coleman looked to be an Iowa lean early in the process, but his off the field issues have put his recruitment in a holding pattern. Michigan is also one of his front-runners….
There has been a lot of talk in recent days regarding the play of Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler and whether or not we should see true freshman Drew Tate get some meaningful reps.
My opinion on this matter is pretty simple: Not right now.
I don't think that Chandler has done anything to warrant pulling him for a few series a game and putting in Tate. Chandler didn't have the greatest game of his career against Michigan State, but the loss was not solely on his shoulders.
When considering the insertion of Tate into the lineup, consider the following:
- He will play behind the same inexperience line that Chandler has played behind. Coming into the season, there was just one player, Robert Gallery, that had started even one game at Iowa. David Walker, arguably the 2nd best lineman on the team, has missed two straight games with a knee injury and will likely be out this week against Michigan. Walker and Brian Ferentz are sophomores. Pete McMahon is a junior walk on.
- Chandler does not have Dallas Clark to throw to this year, nor does he have CJ Jones catching passes. He has not had Mo Brown the past two games and will not have him this week, either. He doesn't even have Ed Hinkel on the field right now. What he has, and what Tate would have, is a seldom used before this season fifth-year senior in Ramon Ochoa. Out side of that, it's nothing but freshmen: RS frosh Calvin Davis and true freshmen James Townsend, Scott Chandler and Eric McCollom. Four months ago, those last three players were collecting their high school diplomas, just like Tate. That is a COMPLETE turnover from last year's two-deep at wide receiver.
- Tate only just began to take regular reps under center when he arrived in Iowa City this summer, as he worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun in high school. Tate has played two meaningless quarters of football against the worst team in the nation to this point.
So what exactly has he done that makes people feel he deserves playing time heading into a home game against Michigan followed by a road trip to Columbus?
There have been just four quarterbacks in the last 60+ years of Iowa football that have led the team in passing in three or more seasons. That means that you just have not seen many true freshmen quarterbacks play at Iowa. You don't see that very often in the Big Ten conference, and I see no reason to remove Chandler from the lineup at this time, given everything I have outlined.
Hey, I have never been one to suppress my opinions and I am not going to start doing that now :)
Now, the flip side of all of that youth at wide receiver sure has to make you smile for the future of this program.
Clinton Solomon recently told a reporter from the Mason City Globe-Gazette that he was not thinking about coming back to Iowa next year, he IS coming back to Iowa next year. That of course depends on him taking care of his academics, which is what landed him in the JUCO ranks to begin with.
If Solomon joins Townsend, Davis, Hinkel and Chandler next season in Iowa City, that is not a bad group of pass catchers. It remains to be seen if Eric McCollom will stay at receiver or move back to the quarterback position. It is clearly his intent on making the switch back to QB, but my gut is telling me that should Iowa land the talented Nick Patton of Winfield, Kansas, McCollom could be a ‘slash' player for the Hawkeyes, like Robinson of Penn State.
Sean Considine continues to impress the Iowa coaching staff, so much so that many of the Iowa coaches feel that Considine has a shot at being Iowa best free safety under their reign.
Speaking of defensive backs, the Hawkeyes already have two verbal commitments from DB's in Adam Shada and Bradley Fletcher.
Shada is playing QB for Millard North High School in Omaha and continues to draw comparisons to a former Millard North signal caller: Eric Crouch.
Shada is averaging nearly 200 yards per game on the ground this season and he has attempted less than 10 passes for the #1 ranked team in the state. Iowa envisions Shada as a DB and I don't see that changing, regardless of the Crouch comparisons. While recipe for Big Ten titles includes a steady dose of running the football, you have to be able to pass it successfully to bring home the hardware in this day and age.
Hope to see many of you today (Wednesday, October 1st) out at Doc's Bar & Grill in West Des Moines. I will be there at 6PM, just like I am every week, broadcasting ‘Hawkeye Weekly' on 1040 WHO. I will be bringing HawkeyeNation.com hats and several copies of this month's Hawkeye Illustrated magazine (soon to be Hawkeye Nation magazine) for those of you that come out. See you there!
And yes, it is great to be back. I have missed you all and am very excited to be able to interact with all of you again on the message boards.