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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Iowa recruiting class emphasizes speed over brawn

Monday, February 6, 2006

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz unveiled a 2006 recruiting class flush with speed and promising linebackers, but short on blue-chip prospects and homegrown talent.

"We're very pleased about the class we were able to sign and obviously very enthused about the individuals involved," Ferentz said Wednesday, the first day of the national signing period.

"We're big on intangibles. When you're evaluating high school prospects it's not easy. To me, if you get players that are enthused about playing, ... don't mind working and have got a lot of pride then you've got a chance," Ferentz said.

The Hawkeyes signed 18 players from 12 states to scholarships for next season.

The talent pool is heavy on defense, especially at linebacker and the secondary, positions that took heavy hits with the departure of all-Big Ten players Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway and stalwart cornerbacks Jovan Johnson and Antwan Allen.

The class includes four projected to play linebacker, four at defensive back and a pair of fleet-footed defensive ends. A fifth linebacker prospect, Julian Smith, enrolled in January and is awaiting academic clearance before officially accepting a scholarship.

Offensively, Ferentz's priority was restocking receiver and quarterback, which will be affected by graduation this year and next.

The Hawkeyes landed a pair of Ohio quarterbacks -- Rick Stanzi and Arvell Nelson -- who grew up 20 miles apart.

Stanzi, 6-4, 200 pounds, was named Ohio Division III Offensive Player of the Year. Nelson was named second team All-State last year and threw 47 career touchdowns.

Ferentz said the duo shares more than their close Ohio roots.

"Both are excellent leaders," said Ferentz, noting that both led their teams deep into the postseason.

Iowa also reloaded at receiver to offset the loss of seniors Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon. The 2006 class has four receivers, including two speedsters with impressive track and field pedigrees.

Paul Chaney, from St. Louis, is the Missouri state champion in the 100- and 200-meter dash and posted the sixth fastest time in the nation in the 100-meter dash last year. Anthony Bowman, from Detroit, is a two-time state champ in the 200-meter dash in Michigan.

"In both these cases, these guys are exceptional track athletes," said Ferentz, who had urged his coaching staff to add speed to the roster. "We like both as football players. But the fact that they do some other things very well, the track part of it ... we're excited about that."

For now, the roster lacks a player from Iowa. The Hawkeyes have a verbal commitment from Davenport offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde, who is expected to be placed on scholarship next January. But Ferentz said he expects as many as six Iowa prep players to join the team next fall as walk-ons.

"We're going to get some outstanding additions to our team that haven't signed scholarship papers, guys primarily from our state that we think are excellent football players," Ferentz said. "Collectively, this group is really going to have a chance to help our football team next fall."

The 2006 class lacks the hype and star power of last year's batch, according to college football's recruiting experts and analysts.

Many considered Iowa's 2005 class among the top 10 in the nation and the most talented pool assembled in Ferentz's six-year tenure. Most analysts rank Iowa's 2006 class in the low 30s and 40s.

The most highly rated players include tight end A.J. Edds, linebacker Jeremiha Hunter, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and kicker Ryan Donahue, voted the nation's top kicker by USA Today.

"As far as rankings go, I know we finished in the Top 10 (recruiting) last February and didn't finish in the Top 10 in the fall," Ferentz said. "I'm not sure how to rank this class. We'll let the experts do that. But I think the big thing is we're happy with the guys we got. We're still more focused on how our players leave the program."

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