The Shadow 's Countdown To Signing Day

How will the Iowa staff close the recruiting season? Signing Day is only a week away. Will there be defections from our verbals? Is another great player waiting to pledge to the Black & Gold? Could there be a surprise in Kirk Ferentz's recruiting stocking? Who do you call? The Shadow!

Since I know that you all want the latest news and rumors in the recruiting office, I placed a call to the cell phone of my Dark Friend, The Shadow. Fortunately, he answered on the first ring and had not already been into the vodka bottle for some nourishment. However, he immediately went on one of his rants:

"This year Iowa fans could see one of the greatest football classes in Hawkeye history join our fraternity on Wednesday February 5th. However, in the interim period, many of us persist on worrying whether certain players will be in the fold come Signing Day.

The great Hawkeye football team that swept through the Big Ten this year like Jack Nicholson at an Oscar party was not blessed with a lot of four and five star recruits. John Mackey Award winning tight end Dallas Clark was a walk-on linebacker while Brad Banks' junior college coach converted the quarterback and AP Player of the Year to wide receiver. Three other starters on the Big Ten Champions, Bruce Nelson, Derek Pagel, and Grant Steen started their careers at Iowa as walk-ons.

Listen to the names called at the NFL Draft this April. Dallas Clark, Bruce Nelson and possibly, Derek Pagel will hear their names called by Paul Tagliabue or his assistant, Gene Washington. Were all the recruiting experts wrong in not predicting stardom for this trio? Aren't we lead to believe that the lists compiled by TheInsiders network, Tom Lemming and other services to be the horoscope for future stardom?

Obviously the answer to those questions is no. The high school lists don't measure heart nor do they predict how hard a prospect is willing to work to improve. Bruce Nelson worked many long hours under the tutelage of Chris Doyle to grow from a 220-pound tight end into a 295-pound All-Big Ten center. A stopwatch or a bench press machine can never test that type of dedication.

In addition, the lists don't take into consideration those blessed with a million dollar body and a nickel brain. We have all seen too many knuckleheads in the football world. For every Brian Bosworth type that finds success, many more fail. Certainly the Iowa roster the last few years had very few athletes that couldn't cut the mustard in the classroom or the weight room. However, sometimes that happens in spite of the extensive research and background checks that are conducted by the Iowa staff".

Recruiting tidbits from the Dark One:

1. Although the Hawks are a finalist for 5 star offensive tackle, Mike Jones, and 4 star offensive tackle, Ryan Schuler, the Hawkeye offensive line will not become paper machete if neither elects to matriculate in the Cradle of Coaches, Iowa City. The staff is working hard to acquire both players but do not need either one of them to come in and play next year. The offensive line at Iowa next year will be very good, although not quite up to the high standards set this year. Schuler appears to be making a move away from Oklahoma now, although that will be to the home of the Huskers. Doesn't Schuler want to learn how to pass block?

2. Jones should make his decision over the weekend. Does he join his brother's alma mater, Notre Dame, or does he benefit from the teaching of his brother's NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens, and join the master builder of that NFL line, Kirk Ferentz? The best Left tackle in the league, Jonathan Ogden, has probably told the elder Jones how to help his brother make the NFL not stand for Not For Long.

3. The staff is looking at OL Justin Hartig and TE Lane Kelly (Omaha Creighton Prep) as preferred walk-ons. They both possess good long snapping ability.

4.Iowa has offered Mike Alvarez, the 6-2, 295 pound center from Miami. His grandmother just passed away so Mike may not want to travel far from home

5.Look for Bryan Baldwin to announce he is a Hawkeye today. The Hawkeye coaches did their last song and dance at his high school, Cardinal Ritter College Prep, on Wednesday morning.

6. Jamie Newberg, TheInsiders national recruiting expert says "Marcus "Gator" Clayton may be the best cover corner prospect that I have seen all year. "Although he is only about 5'-8", he has phenomenal speed, quickness and jumping ability. The Iowa coaches must have had a very good reason to pass on this prospect because no one can on the field", said Newberg. Godby Coach Shelton Crews has no problem in agreeing with the above statement.

7. Notre Dame coach, Tyrone Willingham is being mentioned for the San Francisco 49ers job. He is the personal top choice of Bill Walsh. The Shadow would love that as he hates the Domers. All the ND commits could be given a free pass to go anywhere. This is an NCAA suit waiting to happen somewhere, sometime. Although owner John York is a Notre Dame graduate and currently opposes this move, Walsh is one of the most domineering men in the NFL.

8. Meanwhile, think of the angst at East Lansing if the recently fired Steve Mariucci ends up in Detroit coaching the Lions. Could Tom Izzo's best friend have been the Spartan headman? How much would the Spartans have paid for Mooch if they paid $1.67 million for Louisville coach John Smith? Since Smith was far down the Spartan list, he recognized their predicament and stuck it to the Spartan board. Good job, John. Too bad Charles Rogers is riding off to the NFL.

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