Iowa has made its final pitch.
Just how the Hawkeyes’ 2017 football recruiting class will shake out is now in the hands of a handful of recruits who are still wrestling with final decisions in advance of Wednesday, the first day that current high school seniors are allowed to sign binding letters of intent.
Coach Kirk Ferentz has said Iowa expects to sign 20-22 players in this year’s class and the Hawkeyes ended the weekend Sunday with the same number of announced verbal commitments as Iowa had at the start of a busy recruiting weekend in Iowa City.
There were 17 prospects, including 12 who had previously committed to the Hawkeyes, in Iowa City over the weekend.
They met with coaches, talked with current Iowa players and seemed to enjoy themselves while watching the Iowa basketball team handle Ohio State on Saturday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and a halftime act that included an X-Games gold medal-winning BMX rider.
With a dead period in recruiting now in place and no contact allowed under NCAA rules, recruits now have a little time to think before signing on the bottom line.
Geno Stone, a defensive back from New Castle, Pennsylvania, expressed his thoughts shortly after leaving Iowa late Sunday morning.
A Kent State commit, Stone summed things up this way on Twitter, “Iowa was one of the best experiences of my life, but back to New Castle, got a lot of thinking to do.’’
Some are closer to reaching decisions than others.
Nate Wieland, an Iowa City High senior who initially committed to Northern Illinois last summer before receiving an Iowa offer last week, is expected to announce today who he will sign with after announcing he had decommitted Sunday from the Mid-American Conference program.
“I really want to thank the whole Northern Illinois coaching staff for giving me an opportunity to play for their program, but after talking it over with my family, I’ve decided it’s best to decommit and open up my recruitment,’’ Wieland wrote on Twitter. “I hope everybody at NIU understands.’’
Daviyon Nixon also previously committed to Northern Illinois, but the 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive lineman from Indian Trail High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, plans to announce Wednesday if he will join the Huskies or accept an offer from Iowa or Purdue, campuses he visited the past two weekends.
“I have some things to think about. It’s a big decision,’’ Nixon said. “I had a great visit at Iowa. The coaches, coach (Kirk) Ferentz, coach (Reese) Morgan, they are great people, great coaches. We talked about more than football. We talked about how Iowa can help get me set up for the rest of my life with the academics there. It’s a total program. It was a good weekend.’’
Running back Kyshaun Bryan announced on Twitter during his visit to Iowa on Saturday that he was re-opening his recruitment as well.
Ranked as the sixth-best running back in Florida, Bryan backed out of a previous commitment to South Carolina where coaches wanted him to enroll as a grayshirt and be placed on scholarship for the spring semester in 2018.
In addition to Iowa, the back who rushed for 737 yards last season at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale is receiving late recruiting interest from Miami (Fla.).
The Hawkeyes are waiting for other players to make decisions as well, including punter Ryan Gersonde of Milwaukee who Iowa offered late last week and had been offered by Wyoming.
Two players who visited Iowa City a week ago announced Sunday that they were accepting offers elsewhere.
New Jersey wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, a senior at the same high school Iowa running back Akrum Wadley attended, announced he will sign with Minnesota following a weekend visit to Minneapolis and tight end Kurt Rafdal of Carmel, Indiana, indicated he will sign with Nebraska.
The Hawkeyes did add a 10th preferred walk-on to this year’s class Sunday when Marshall Coluzzi, the younger brother of 2016 Iowa punter Ron Coluzzi, announced his decision to join the Iowa program.
A senior at Naperville North High School in Illinois, Marshall Coluzzi is walking on at Iowa as a long snapper.