Iowa Working Hard on Class of '11 Receivers

With current Iowa receivers running out of eligibility, the Hawkeyes are looking to reload in the Class of 2011. Hawkeye Insider takes a look at the offers out there and where Iowa might be headed with a talented group of prospects.

IOWA CITY, Ia. - In early December, Iowa jumped on the DeAnthony Arnett train. A lot of empty seats remained.

They're filling up fast.

Iowa joined BCS schools Michigan, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Oregon, Tennessee, and Wisconsin in having offered Arnett back in December. Notre Dame, USC, Alabama and Oklahoma have jumped on board since that time.

In February, Arnett announced his Top 8. He listed Notre Dame, USC and Michigan State as his Top 3. Iowa sat in the second five.

We've seen this before in Hawkeye Country. Iowa has identified top talent at the receiver position, made inroads and then were spurned. It happened with Mike Williams, Kyle Prater, Dwayne Jarrett, Adrian Arrington and others.

The Hawkeyes continue to push forward and hope that third-year wide receiver coach Erik Campbell can help land some bigger fish. He's dropping the line in the water.

Iowa has offered scholarships to four, four-star receivers - according to rankings – in the Class of 2011. Arnett, DaVaris Daniels, Evan Spencer and Damiere Byrd comprised that group.

Darius Jennings is a four-star quarterback with an offer. The Maryland product projects as a college receiver.

Ashton Gaines, Jay Lee, Marcus Grant and JaCorey Shepherd also have picked up Hawkeye offers.

Iowa brought in one receiver in '10 – Kevonte Martin-Manley. The Hawkeyes clearly are looking to build on that in the next signing class.

Leading receiver Darrell Johnson-Koulianos enters his senior season this fall. Marvin McNutt will be a junior. They're your Hawkeye starters. Key reserves Colin Sandeman (senior) and Paul Chaney (senior) also are wrapping it up.

Keenan Davis becomes a true sophomore and is expected to take a step forward this season. He's being counted on as a future go-to-guy. His classmates, Jordan Cotton and Jo Jo Pregont, are coming off of redshirt freshmen years and really need to make strides this season to prepare for openings in 2011.

Let's take a look at where the Hawkeyes stand with their Class of '11 targets:

DaVaris Daniels - I spoke to's No. 5 rated receiver in January (LINK). The son of Washington Redskins defensive end Phillips Daniels enjoyed his visit to Iowa for junior day.

Daniels already has secured offers from Iowa, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, among others. He was expected to add more.

I think Iowa has a shot here, but they'll have to get past Miami, Georgia and Notre Dame. The ‘Canes offered first and he grew up a fan of them, his dad was a Bulldog and his godfather, Andre Jones, played for the Irish.

DeAnthony Arnett - We've talked about Arnett and his favorites. It will be real tough for the Hawkeyes to break into that group.

Campbell enjoys a good relationship with coaches at Saginaw High. Arnett favors a pro-style offense. That's the good news.

The problem is that home-state Michigan State and USC also run pro-style offenses. One's close to home and the other lands top-notch talent in bunches.

Here's a link to a story when we spoke to Arnett.

Evan Spencer - DaVaris Daniels' prep teammate also comes from good bloodlines. His father, Tim Spencer, is an Ohio State and NFL alum.

We also spoke with Spencer following his junior day at Iowa (LINK). has ranked him as the No. 19 wide receiver in the country.

Spencer boasts offers from Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Purdue and Wisconsin. But the one that sticks out comes from Ohio State. He's a legacy.

I think Spencer will give Iowa a hard look but overcoming the Buckeyes might be too much to ask.

Damiere Byrd - Unlike the first three receivers listed here who are from the big, physical mold, Byrd is a smaller jet. Byrd is a state champion in the 55-meters for New Jersey with a time of 6.39 seconds.

Byrd also ran a 4.30-second, 40-yard dash at a combine in Baltimore last year. Iowa just offered him this week along with his teammate Quinton Alston.

Hawkeyes East Coast recruiter Darrell Wilson has a proven track record in New Jersey, so they have a shot here. He's also been offered by Cincinnati, Connecticut, Duke, Maryland, Rutgers, South Carolina and Stanford.

I spoke with Byrd after he received his offer. He's just getting to know Iowa, so it's tough to make a call on where the Hawkeyes stand with him right now.

Darius Jennings - If I had to choose a four-star receiver Iowa is most likely to land, it would be this speedster from the Gilman School in the Washington, D.C. area. The Hawkeyes have a strong relationship with the staff and Jennings knows them as well.

I spoke with Jennings about a month ago. You could tell that he thought highly of the Hawks.

Jennings plays quarterback in a wildcat offense at Gilman so there could be some adjustment to playing college receiver. But this kid is just a tremendous athlete and will greatly help whichever school is lucky enough to land him.

Ashton Gaines - Gaines still is flying under the radar a bit with Iowa being his only offer. You have to trust Coach Campbell on this one. He's very familiar with what it takes to be a good prep receiver in Michigan.

As you can tell from this story, the Gaines family is fond of Iowa. The kid hopes to receive more offers, but the Hawkeyes being the only ones on board for this long could carry a lot of weight.

Gaines' prep quarterback already has accepted a scholarship offer from Michigan State, but the Spartans haven't pulled the trigger on Gaines. The longer they wait to move, the better for Iowa.

Marcus Grant - Grant just picked up an offer from the Hawkeyes this week. Connecticut offered earlier.

Grant stands 6-2 and weighs in at 190 pounds. He also plays cornerback, which would indicate he's a pretty good athlete for his size.

Rutgers and Syracuse appear ready to jump in with offers. I think Iowa has a good shot with this kid.

Jay Lee - The Lonestar State product checks in at 6-3, 190. He holds offers from Arkansas, Houston, Nebraska and Tulsa.

Lee is relatively new to the wide receiver position but schools are starting to take notice of what he did as a junior. Iowa is in early here, but this kid likely is going to gain more attention going forward.

JaCorey Shepherd - When I spoke to Shepherd Iowa had just extended him his first scholarship offer. The Hawkeyes jumped in after watching him on tape.

Shepherd, like several other receivers on this list, also plays cornerback. Iowa would like to get a commitment from him and then see where he best fits into the program.

Others to Watch

Chance Early - Quinn's son is clearly on the Hawkeyes' radar and they're evaluating him. He hasn't received any offers to this point.

Quenton James - The Sioux City product will be the top receiver in the state and looks like a BCS prospect. He doesn't have any offers yet, but I would not be surprised to see Iowa jump in here. They're in contact with him often.

Analysis - I really like how Iowa is approaching this class of receivers. The way I see it, the Hawkeyes shot high initially with Arnett, Daniels, Jennings and Spencer and will work hard on those players for as long as they feel their in the mix.

Iowa also is chasing down the next level of kids (and by that I mean according to interest, not necessarily talent). I'd put Byrd, Gaines, Shepherd, Grant and Lee in this group.

The Hawkeyes continue to work the level under that one with guys like James and Early. As they gauge how things are going on the first two levels, they can be a bit more patient as they evaluate here.

As a result, I think Iowa sets itself up to be successful with recruiting receivers this season. Would you take a '11 class with Jennings, Gaines and James? I would.

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