Coach Ferentz: On The Side

Iowa leader talks more about national signing day. He touches on schools trying to steal Kyle Williams, offensive line recruiting, the possibility of Warren McDuffie's return, prospects for the Hawkeyes in the NFL draft and much more.

How Russian is this kid Anton Narinsky?

He's Russian.

Does he have an accent or anything?

Yeah. Mild. His mom and dad, yeah. All the way. I can't remember exactly how many years they have been here. But they're definitely a Russian family. He's another interesting guy. He's got a grade point that's out of sight. He's a wrestler.

You seem to have gotten a lot of wrestlers and basketball ball players this year.

If you can find them, that's a good thing. We like guys that compete.

Did you ever go to a wrestling meet or a basketball game and disqualify somebody because he didn't look like a competitor?

Not this year, but yeah.

Is it about half and half?

No. Usually you're on the right track. But you just like to see guys move around and do some things that way. That helps. That's the only reason we recruited Mark Sindlinger. He was a much better wrestler than a football player. And he was a good football player.

You like their feet when they wrestle?

Yeah. And he competed so well. He was dynamite. ---

When you came into recruiting, you said that you wanted four or five offensive linemen. Do you feel like you got the right ones or the ones that you wanted are enough?

I think we did fine. We're sitting pretty good. I know this right now. Next year is a very good year in the Midwest for linemen, too. So, we wouldn't have minded taking one more. I can think of one in particular (Byers). That being said, it's not a panic situation.

Is there a panic position? People think wideout, maybe.

I don't think so. We took our shots. When you take your shots, you might miss. We realize that, too. I've gone through our roster pretty thoroughly, and we're in pretty good shape.

Will this recruiting class cause position changes with kids on campus already?

Yeah. That's the next discussion we'll have. There are a couple up on the board that we've been thinking about for months. We have to really figure out what's best for the individual, and then for us and then kind of move forward. We have enough wiggle room there to be fine on all the ones that we're thinking about, at least.

You haven't approached anybody yet?

Not yet. I haven't been here. I haven't been around. That process is about to begin.

Do you just plan to have (Robert E. Lee in Baytown, Texas Coach Dick Olin) funnel you a player every year?

It would be fine if he did. If they're like Drew and Charles, we'd be very, very happy. Dick doesn't hurt us there. He knows our program pretty well now. He had a chance to hang around practice at the Outback Bowl. He feels very comfortable with what he sees. Charles is a guy with a magnetic personality and charisma you like.

Does it help when a guy comes in with good bloodlines?

It doesn't hurt. There are probably some parallels there. He's really a good football player. We just like his aggressiveness and his attitude. He's very excited about getting up here. You want guys that are excited about coming. We don't try to twist arms or anything like that. ---

How much do you pay attention to the scandals at Colorado and Minnesota?

I don't know the facts at either place. As a coach, you always worry about your players. Every day of the year, you worry about it just like you would your own children. Recruits, that's one more step. I'm not saying all recruits, but there are recruits that come in looking to have a good time. It's just one more concern that you have as a coach. ---

When you're going after these so-called superstars, is there one common area where Iowa comes up short?

If I just generalize, it's that we're not a brand name yet. We're not a Mercedes or whatever. What kind of clothes do kids wear now, Tommy Hilfiger? We're not that. There are some times that you can put a very logical argument down on paper, and it gets discounted because we're not so-and-so. We're not a Mercedes. That's probably not the right analogy because Mercedes is a pretty good car. I don't own one, but you know what I'm saying. It's part of recruiting. Perception still factors in very, very strongly and always will. That's just our society.

Is it safe to say that some of these schools almost recruit themselves?

Yeah. Oh yeah. You can say that. It used to frustrate us back in the '80s. We were working hard on a guy; doing everything right in recruiting, if there is such a thing as doing everything right. Then one of those glamour schools would roll in and drop their hat in the ring, too, before signing, and the guy goes there. It happens. That gets back to brand names. If that's the deal, that's fine. The good news is that there are a lot of good players out there. With 85 scholarships, there are even more available. ---

With kids changing their minds so much these days, how hard do you have to work after you've already gained a commitment from them?

Last year, we got stung on that twice. This year, everything was solid all the way through. We had one school (Oregon) that kept nagging Kyle (Williams). I mean, they just kept...unbelievable. They were coming up with some good stuff, too. I like reading fiction, and these guys were right up there. They were beautiful. Anyway, some of that happens, but for the most part, there's not a heck of a lot of it. The ones that happened last year, I wasn't real happy about it. But I could see Ohio State grabbing a guy from Ohio. And I could see Miami grabbing a guy from Fort Lauderdale. Those things are going to happen. I don't worry too much about it.

Is it safe to say that the NFL stuff came up with Kyle's situation?

Yeah. That was one of them. And when we got that one dismissed, they moved on to college. These guys...it was beautiful. It was beautiful.

What about the outdoor plumbing? Did they use that?

They didn't use that. (laughing) They were just sticking on job opportunities. They're beautiful.

Did you feel comfortable that you would get Kyle after he gave his verbal?

Yeah. We did. Kyle was solid, and his mom and dad were just tremendous. But it's an interesting case study. Again, I'm not talking about any specific school. But the one school that I'm thinking about, they just dropped in. It was kind of like a celebrity recruiting deal. I'm wondering how they have the time or the money to do this stuff. They just kind of dropped in, threw their lines in the water and you know. If it works, it works. I haven't seen how things came out. They may have gotten a guy. But it's just a different approach to the recruiting. The thing that saved Kyle, at least, was his mom and dad. Their line was, "Hey, we know you. We trust you because we've known you for a long time. We've developed a relationship." There was no way they were going to turn their son over to someone who was just dropping in flashing whatever they flashed. I don't know.

Do the kids get impressed with the flashy locker room and stuff?

Sure, that's why they have it. They don't have it for the guys on campus. I promise you that. It's well funded, I guess. Right? According to the article I read. You guys read the same one.

With how big recruiting is getting, do you see some of these (five-star) guys getting over-inflated egos? You see them at press conferences where they're whipping out four hats and stuff like that.

That's unfortunate. I don't blame the individuals. It's a biproduct of what we're doing right now. ---

Are you guys going to have throwbacks for the first game?

There's a rumor floating around that that could well happen. That might be as close as we came to having something enticing for recruits. Any of them that heard about it, they were excited. They think that it's great. They're kind of fired up about the idea. So, I think there's a good chance that it's going to happen.

Are you going to wear the white pants?

Me? No. I'll wear one of those suits. I'll look like Jimmy Cagney.

How thrown back are we talking, like Kinnick?

I think we're looking at the '30s. That's my understanding. I don't know if I'm supposed to comment on this or not. I'll probably get reprimanded. ---

Is there any team news like injury-wise or rehab-wise?

We're doing pretty well. A couple of guys had some offseason surgery, that type of thing. But as far as I know, everything is on track and we're doing well.

Is Brian back?

Not quite, but he's doing good. He's getting close.

How about Jonathan?

He's doing very well. Knock on wood, we should be in good shape when spring ball gets rolling.

How is Richard Kittrell coming along?

Obviously, the most important thing for him right now is finishing up strong this semester so he can have a football career. That's what he needs to focus on. His knee is doing fine. ---

With your success the last couple of years, are you hearing from more transfer possibilities?

I wouldn't say more. You get some feelers here and there. But I wouldn't say more.

Do you expect any transfers?

Not to my knowledge.

How about the other way?

Not that I know of. I don't think we've lost anybody. I don't expect anybody, but usually those things come right out of the dark. But I think everybody is pretty happy. Hopefully, not too happy. ---

Will Eric McCollom get his year back?

We're going to petition for it. He should. He only played three games. He should be fine.

Is there a chance that Champ Davis could be one to change positions?

Yeah. I wish we had two of him though. That's the problem. It's kind of like we had six Jonathans. Right now, I doubt we're going to do anything. But we'll talk it out and see. I kind of like him where he's at. ---

Do you have a junior day coming up here?

Yeah. We'll be in action here pretty quick. Look at the basketball schedule, whatever opportunities are there we'll take advantage of.

How many walk-ons do you think you'll have?

It's probably too early to say right now. But we've got some good kids that are interested. We're really happy about that. ---

Have you had a chance to talk to any of the NFL scouts in regards to your kids heading into the draft?

Not an awful lot. More so during the season. We had one or two guys that came over during the bowl. Two of the guys that came over didn't get a chance to see Bob or Mo because they were injured at that time. That season really starts now with the Super Bowl being done. As soon as that combine is over, people will be coming through here pretty frequently.

Do you have a date set for your pro days?

The 8th of March and then the first Monday after spring break. My guess is it will be like last year. Everybody was here for the first one. The second one, there weren't too many people. Most of our guys won't work out. They'll run in the combine. They'll run at the first one. Not many guys will do it the second time.

Do you have a feel for how many of your guys will go in the draft?

Not yet. I know we'll probably have three guys go in the first day. Nate is a jump ball as far as going the first day. But the little bit of football I saw this month, I think his stock is going up. You can't win without (good kickers). I'm not saying he's Vinatieri, but that's who he reminds me of. We'll have some other guys getting attention, too. ---

If Warren McDuffie wanted to walk on, would the door be open?

That's something that I'd have to take under consideration. He's expressed some interest. We'll probably have a conversation here in the next couple of weeks.


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