Iowa’s two most recent football commitments illustrate how wide of a net Hawkeyes coaches cast as they search for recruits.
Drew Ott, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end, is a versatile athlete who plays for an eight-man football program in Giltner, Neb., while Maurice Fleming Jr., a 6-1, 185-pounder who was recruited as a cornerback, quarterbacked Chicago Curie to the Chicago Public League city championship.
The two are among the first four players to join Iowa’s 2012 recruiting class, a group which can make verbal commitments official by signing letters of intent in February.
Ott and Fleming joined Ohio receiver Cam Wilson in making commitments this week, following the lead of Riverdale offensive lineman Mitch Keppy.
Ott informed Iowa coaches Tuesday that he had chosen the Hawkeyes, while Fleming informed coaches Thursday evening before announcing his commitment on Twitter, writing “Just committed to University of Iowa. I will be a Hawkeye.”
At his 47-student high school in Giltner, population 389, located southeast of Grand Island, Neb., Ott has recorded 537 tackles over the past three seasons. He also was a state place-winner in the shot put at the state track meet and led his high school basketball team to the Nebraska Class D-2 state championship last winter, scoring 18 points in the title game.
He selected Iowa after being told by coaches at Nebraska — which expects to sign a small class of around 15 players in February — that it did not plan to offer Ott a scholarship. Ott, who plays tight end and defensive end for Giltner, also was recruited by Ohio, Kansas and Wisconsin.
“In a normal year with a normal-sized recruiting class of 19, 20 or more players, I think Drew would have been offered by the Huskers,” Giltner coach Jeff Ashby said. “He got caught in a numbers situation, and coming from a small high school, I think that had an impact. But, he can play. He’s an athlete. I know he enjoyed his visit to Iowa and is real comfortable with the coaches there.”
Giltner made his decision after a visit to Iowa earlier this month. So did Fleming, who was offered a scholarship after participating in a one-day camp in Iowa City.
Fleming threw for 1,334 yards last season while leading the 3,662-student Curie to a 9-6 record that included a 21-19 loss at Sterling in early September. The Condors went on to defeat Chicago Morgan Park in the Chicago Public League City Championship game before falling 6-0 to Fenwick in the 77th Prep Bowl at Soldier Field.
Before selecting Iowa, Fleming was offered scholarships by 11 Football Bowl Subdivision programs, including Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. He narrowed his choice to the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes before selecting Iowa.
Fleming never has played cornerback, but was recruited as one by both Iowa and Wisconsin after participating in camps on both campuses this month.
Iowa 2012 football commitments
Maurice Fleming, Jr. CB 6-1 185 Chicago (Curie)
Mitch Keppy OL 6-5 285 Port Byron, Ill. (Riverdale)
Drew Ott DE 6-4 235 Giltner, Neb.
Cam Wilson WR 6-2 190 Dublin, Ohio (Jerome)