Reese Morgan Talks Recruiting

Before making the move as the new offensive line coach, caught up with recruiting coordinator Reese Morgan one last time to gain his thoughts on the class of 2003. Reese talked about the most likely to contribute next season, Iowa's ability to recruit greyshirts, and discussed potential academic casualties.

The Second Season is finally over. You know, recruiting! In recent years recruiting has taken on a life of it's own. The pre-season magazines, newsletters and 900 numbers of the 1980's and 90's have now been augmented by radio talk shows; television programs showing highlight reels and the all-powerful internet.

The internet was made for recruiting. Now a brick salesman in Des Moines and a furnishings decorator in Phoenix can read the "expert" opinions of a stockbroker in Waterloo and a truck driver in Sioux City. The only problem with that is that many have a common denominator, me. Although, they all have their own sources, I have spent too many years relaying information through phone calls to think that I really know anything. Tom Lemming once referred to me as an "Old reliable source", when he was appearing on a call in show on WHO radio. I have never lived that down! Tom was only half right. Old, I am. However, the reliable part is real shaky.

Therefore, when trying to assess this Iowa recruiting class, I called a very reliable source, Iowa Recruiting Coordinator, Reese Morgan. The articulate high school coaching legend was an easy interview. Two days after Signing Day, Reese and the rest of the staff were reviewing tape, discussing academic progress of players and trying to get many things done before leaving Iowa City for the annual Hawkeye Cruise.

Q: How important was it to get back into Illinois for some recruits?

A: Illinois has been very good to us. It is a rich, fertile, recruiting ground for all the Big Ten and Notre Dame. Iowa has so many from Illinois in the student body. Well over 40 percent of all the out of state students attending the University of Iowa are from Illinois. It is a natural progression that Iowa should be able to recruit well there.

Q: After Bernie Wyatt left Iowa; the recruiting in New Jersey has slowed to a trickle. Was getting back into New Jersey a priority for this staff?

A: Absolutely. Darrell Wilson has exposed Southern New Jersey to the Black & Gold. Bernie Wyatt did Northern Jersey and New York City so this foray into the southern part of the state was new for Iowa. However, Darrell is from that area as he coached in Camden for nine years.

Q: Who was the Big Fish that got away this year?

A: Teraz McCray would certainly qualify there along with Marcel Frost. Those losses have been publicized. However, Ryan Schuler qualifies also. Iowa was in it right to the end.

Q: Does losing Marcel Frost the last week to Ohio State along with Dallas Clark's early exit to the NFL create a need at Tight End?

A: We have several outstanding players at that position now. However, with Eric Jensen graduating in another year, we will be looking to add someone at this position next year. In addition, we don't know exactly where all of the freshman will play.

Q: Could you be referring to Champ Davis?

A: Champ is very talented and could probably play several positions. He is a very good example of not knowing where the recruits will play until we get the players in camp.

Q: Do you feel that you addressed all your concerns in the defensive backfield?

A: No, we really wanted to get a cornerback.

(Editors Note: That comment was made before the commitment of CB Khaliq Price)

Q: Is there a possibility of signing any more recruits for this class?

A: That is possible, but we feel very good about the class as it stands.

Q: Will you recruit any greyshirts?

A: The Iowa program doesn't allow that practice.

Q: Are there any possible academic casualties in this class?

A: No, not at all. This class is the best academic class that we have recruited.

Q: Do Bruce Nelson, Derek Pagel and Dallas Clark help in the recruiting of walk-ons?

A: Yes. They are very good at it because their success sets a tremendous example for all athletes to strive to attain. Eight Iowa players have been invited to the NFL combine camp. Bruce, Derek and Dallas are all in that group. You may see all of them have a very good chance of playing on Sundays.

Q: Which one of these players was the biggest surprise?

A: Well, Bruce had to gain a lot of weight, while Dallas switched from linebacker to tight end. But, Derek Pagel was really special. Two and ½ years ago he wanted to quit the team and enroll at a small college. He didn't think that he could play at Iowa. Phil Parker sat down with Derek and convinced him that he could be a valuable part of the Hawkeye program and could see the playing field. Derek wanted it so bad that he stayed. Now he may play in the NFL!

Q: I assume then that walk-ons will continue to be a big part of this program?

A: Absolutely! Many of these players made All-State teams and are extremely talented. Many are turning down scholarship opportunities at the division 1-AA level to pursue their dream. The state of Iowa now has very strong pools of talent and we think that this will continue.

Q: How many in this class have a chance to play next season?

A: Although we really like everyone in this class, certain positions are easier for a newcomer to gain playing time in his first season. Naturally, the other variable is whether the program has a need at a particular position.

After laying that foundation, Reese proceeded to discuss the most likely suspects. These are not in a priority order as he was looking at an alphabetical list.

1. George Eshareturi - He might have an opportunity. Although he is raw, he is physically mature. His development as a defensive tackle must progress rapidly for him to be able to play.

2. Herb Grigsby - He is very quick and could be used for punt and kick returns. Although we would like him to gain some strength, he is very quick.

3. A. J. Johnson - He has the size and speed that could make him see the field in his initial season.

4. Richard Kittrell - His size and athletic ability may allow him to step in and play. He may be the strongest of all the recruits.

5. Bryan Mattison - He has great ability and is a very smart player. However, depth at the position may preclude any playing time for him.

6. Eric McCollum & Drew Tate - I group them together because one may be able to work his way onto the depth chart. Both are extremely talented. This year we didn't have any injuries to Brad Banks. Next year we may not be that lucky.

7. James Townsend - He is special. His height, combined with tremendous speed, may allow him to play next year.

8. Albert Young - Along with A.J. he has a chance to play next year.

Q: Coach, I have to ask about Alex Willcox, as I live in West Des Moines. Is he a possible position change to center or will he stay on defense?

A: Actually, Ron Aiken loves his play on the defensive line. He has a motor that revs up on every play. He's a bit undersized now at 270, but Chris Doyle will take care of that. He really looks like he is in the same mold as Jared Clauss.

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