If you have been paying attention to Iowa's Recruiting Class of 2005, you know that the Hawks are swimming in some deep waters.
They are off the porch and running with the big dogs.
Here is a partial list of schools that Iowa has successfully ‘recruited' against for prospects this year:
Notre Dame, Ohio State, Miami, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, USC, Michigan, Purdue, Kansas State, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Penn State. There are some 30 or 40 other schools, including each and every Big Ten school and nearly all of the old ‘Big Eight' schools, such as Nebraska and Colorado.
As things stand right now, Iowa has commitments from (3) five-star players; TE Tony Moeaki and OL's Dan Doering and Dace Richardson. Scout.com recently moved Moeaki to the top of their tight end rankings, while Richardson and Doering rank 4th and 6th on the offensive line, nationally.
Seven other Iowa commits received four out of five stars from Scout.com, meaning they are believed to be exceptional players.
Five of Iowa's commits made the Scout.com Top 100, regardless of any position. That is the fourth highest total of any school in the nation. Iowa is currently rated as having the fourth best recruiting class in the nation (as of 11/23/04).
This is the best recruiting class of the Kirk Ferentz era and one of the best, if not THE best recruiting class Iowa has had, or at least since people have kept such information.
However, Iowa has shared two Big Ten titles in the last three years without many players who received four and five star rankings. They have gotten it done by identifying talent and then developing and coaching that talent.
CLASS OF 2004
What you will find is that Walner Belleus is the lone four or five star commit from that group. Kyle Williams was a five-star player, but he has committed to Purdue. Shonn Greene was a four-star commit last year, but he did not make grades.
CLASS OF 2003
Mike Jones was the lone four, or in his case, five-star commit in that class. 12 members of that class received two or fewer stars.
CLASS OF 2002
So as you can see, this year's class has the chance to have as many four or five star rated players as Iowa has landed in the past three years combined.
How do players get more stars? It's my belief that one of the biggest factors of these rankings is the number of good to great programs who have offered a player a scholarship. As you know from the point I illustrated above, the Hawks are competing with and beating some of the best programs in the country for recruits in this year's class.
I want to reiterate that I feel that stars and player rankings are more entertaining than scientific. However, many of the highly rated players were offered scholarships by some of the big hitters, so that helps their ranking. That does not mean they will be great college players, nor does it mean that teams who have very high recruiting class rankings will finish in the Top 10 each year.
Well…that last part might not be so accurate.
Over the course of the last three or four years, when you look at the various Top 10 recruiting class rankings from the top services, you will see the following schools at least two or three times, if not every time:
USC, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Miami.
As you know, most of those schools have won a national title over the course of the last three or four years.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have been true ‘party crashers', as they have been ranked #8 in the nation in each of the last three season ending polls. You will also find their recruiting classes over the past three or four years ranked between 30-40 in the nation.
Iowa has clearly identified talent better than other programs, and they have developed and coached that talent as well as any program in the nation.
Now that they are landing players who have been coveted by the other ‘big boys' of college football, does that mean that a National Title is around the corner?
No, it does not. But it does mean that we can expect Iowa to continue to be in the hunt for Big Ten titles, and if they are doing that, then its likely that they will make a return trip to a BCS bowl and perhaps even play for a national title down the road.
ON AN UNRELATED NOTE…
Does anyone else feel like they are watching a bit of Iowa football when they watch the New England Patriots play?
You have several players on the Pats that were not highly drafted kids, including Tom Brady, who with another Super Bowl win goes down as one of the games all time greats.
That team is lunch pail, blue-collar on both sides of the ball, and they execute better than their opponent, and they keep turnovers to a minimum. They are also sharp on special teams.
Isn't that exactly what we watch in Kinnick on Saturday's?
Kirk Ferentz was an assistant under Bill Belichick during his Cleveland years, and though he is quick to point out that the late Joe Moore is his football mentor, you have to think that Ferentz learned a thing or two from Belichick, the way he did from Hayden Fry and Ted Marchiabroda.
I was pulling for the Chargers or the Colts to win the Super Bowl this year, due to the Hawkeyes on their rosters. But with both of those teams no longer in the picture, I find myself rooting for the New England Hawkeyes….err…Patriots.