The Shadow Prepares For Michigan

My Dark Friend, The Shadow, was excited when he called me from his cell phone Wednesday evening. He loves going to Ann Arbor, and was beginning to pack his car for the long drive ahead to the Marriott in Romulus. He wanted to get a leg up on everybody so he will be on the road when this story is published early Thursday morning. However, before making his final preparations, he related some juicy tidbits for readers.

1. This weekend could be a very big opportunity for many Hawks to place themselves in the national spotlight. Romulus, Michigan native Fred Russell will be one of the bigger targets of the national audience, fueling the reports of a possible early entry into the NFL. However, do not expect Coach Ferentz to advise Fred to leave early. Fred needs to improve his running technique, and could use a great spring of track. An example of this is the improvement current Vikings RB Michael Bennett made at Wisconsin due to help from the track staff.

2. The center position became even more wide-open for next season after Brian Ferentz tore his ACL in a recent practice. Brian went under the knife, and will be out until at least the start of spring practice. The Shadow still says to keep an eye out for some potential weight gains this fall from other players.

3. The Shadow informed late last week that there was little behind the published reports of a Hawkeye offer to JUCO QB Mark Hetherington. In fact, the Hawkeye staff does not believe that Mark's #1 JUCO QB ranking is warranted. Therefore, if the staff is to make a late decision in recruiting a JUCO QB, don't expect any trips to be made to Fresno City Community College.

4. The staff will be evaluating JUCO cornerbacks very hard this late fall for some potential December visitors. One to keep in mind right now is Garden City Community College CB Cory Reddick, who happens to be childhood friends with Brad Banks and CJ Jones. In addition, the Hawks will also be taking a strong look at Dodge City CC in Kansas. Both Reynaldo Hill and Donald Defrand will be considered.

5. Big news, and I mean B-I-G, is that the Hawks have entered the picture with OL Derek Morris. At 6-6 and 344 pounds, there are not many prospects as large as Morris. Derek was ranked as the #1 OL in the nation last year, eventually signing with Ohio State. However, he did not enroll in school. He has scheduled official visits to Miami (FL), Florida, and an unofficial visit to North Carolina. The Hawk are as poised as any school to gain a late visit, and could be entered in the sweepstakes to land this mid-year transfer. Kirk Ferentz's experience as an offensive line coach in the NFL may help land this budding superstar. In fact, to show how winning can help recruiting, it was not until late last week that Iowa had even entered the picture with Derek. The mutual interest has been jumpstarted to say the least!

6. Aaron Greving should be moved to fullback! Sources have told my Dark Friend that there is not a better blocking back on the team. Aaron would provide the missing piece to really putting this offense right up there with the nation's elite. Edgar Cervantes has been capable, but has not provided the extra holes necessary in propelling Mr. Russell for more big runs. The emergence of Jermelle Lewis as a home run threat is another reason for the move.

7. Don't be concerned about the lack of recruiting commitments. Iowa's fast start in the Big Ten Conference has propelled the Hawkeye colors in front of many of the elite prospects in both the Midwest and other parts of the country. Many ‘National' recruits are looking at Iowa this year. In fact, this is the first year the Hawks may very well have the option of picking and choosing among recruits at key positions, like wide receiver, tight end, and linebacker. However, the staff still needs to emphasize the recruiting of some offensive and defensive lineman.

8. The Shadow also points out that a victory in Ann Arbor this weekend will help generate even more interest in recognizing certain Hawkeyes in post-season all-star teams. The Hawks have as many as four of five candidates on the offensive side of the ball that will be considered. Brad Banks, Fred Russell, Dallas Clark, Eric Steinbach, Robert Gallery, and Nate Kaeding all appear to be prime candidates for recognition.

9. The Shadow informed us all last summer to look for the staff to experiment with Jermire Roberts at the outside linebacker spot. That has now become a reality. Injuries to George Lewis and Mike Follett, has necessitated the move. Jermire will now back-up Grant Steen. However, he probably won't see action at LB this weekend unless an injury occurs. His free safety speed could be a valuable asset on the outside. Roberts can also bring the lumber, if you know what I mean.

10. It may be time to go Back To The Future. That would be the football game, not the movie. The setting was in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1981. Tommy Nichol kicked his way into Iowa Hawkeye football lore as he connected on three field goals to defeat the Anthony Carter led Michigan Wolverines. That 9-7 victory provided the impetus for Hayden Fry's first Rose Bowl appearance. Could Nate Kaeding duplicate Nichol's great performance? Although Iowa has many more offensive weapons now than the team led by Reggie Roby and defensive stalwarts, Andre Tippett and Pat Dean, this game could come down to a climactic kick by the cool and collected Kaeding. There is no kicker better in college football when the game is on the line.

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