Toks Akinribade’s health, how Desmond King and Josh Jackson impact recruiting and more are all part of today’s Hawkeye 10@10.
Keeping you up to do date with Iowa football news and notes at Hawkmania, your home for all things Iowa including some hot stove Hawkeye baseball talk and a milestone double-double for Megan Gustafson.
All that and more, here is today’s Hawkeye 10@10:
1. The play of Desmond King and Josh Jackson in recent seasons at cornerback for Iowa has opened doors in recruiting defensive backs.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They both have their own stories. A year ago at this time, Josh had started one game in his career. To see all those neat things happen to them, I think it tells prospects if you come here and put the effort in and have the right attitude, good things are possible. I’ve always believed successful people can come from anywhere, small towns, big towns. They don’t all have to go Harvard. I’m not knocking Harvard, it’s a great school, but not every famous person went to Harvard.’’
2. Five defensive backs are part of Iowa’s recruiting class, and coach Kirk Ferentz said they share a common trait.
“The way the game is changing, the more speed you have the better off you are,’’ he said. “That’s always been true but I think with the more spread teams we see, it’s probably advantageous for us to add some speed.’’
Ferentz said there will be opportunities for those players to contribute quickly, either on defense or special teams.
3. One of Iowa’s signings following the early signing period has been on the Hawkeyes’ radar for some time.
Receiver Nico Ragaini, who began classes at Iowa in January, was recruited by Iowa first out of Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Connecticut a year ago.
“We talked even last year about possibly offering him a scholarship. We liked him out of high school and he actually came to camp here last summer because he was going to prep school and still a non-college student. We liked him at camp and as things worked out, he felt like he was a guy who could come in this spring and compete,’’ Ferentz said.
4. With four incoming freshmen on scholarship and five new walk-ons joining the program, Iowa’s linebacker room will be a little crowded.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing from the perspective of coach Kirk Ferentz.
He recalled driving to Nebraska with longtime Iowa assistant Carl Jackson in the 1980s to watch a practice.
“I had never seen a practice like that. I asked afterwards, how many linemen do you have? He said ‘about 50.’ I said, ‘Do you know all those guys?’ He said, ‘I know about 15.’ That’s how it worked back then. Pretty good deal, right? This will be nothing compared to that,’’ Ferentz said.
The Iowa coach said linebackers coach Seth Wallace has a pretty good handle on the talent joining the program in the fall and he likes the collection of players Iowa will add to its roster.
“We’re excited about it, think they’re good players, good prospects,’’ Ferentz said.
5. Hawkeye running back Toks Akinribade continues to make progress as he works his way back from a “medical situation’’ which prevented him from traveling to New York City for the Pinstripe Bowl.
“He’s back in school, got through the semester. That was the first concern. He missed a couple finals. His grades are in, he’s doing well,’’ coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Akinribade, who redshirted last fall after competing as a true freshman in 2016, is not yet at full speed from a health standpoint.
“There are lot of steps he has to go through,’’ Ferentz said.
6. A lot has changed since Kirk Ferentz recruited his first Hawkeyes in the 1980s as an assistant on Hayden Fry’s staff, but the Iowa coach says some things have remained unchanged as the Hawkeyes search for future players.
“What we look for hasn’t changed an awful lot,’’ Ferentz said. “We start by seeing if the player has the requisite talent and ability to be a good football player. We believe strongly that we are looking for guys who are going to be good teammates, be successful students and be people who are going to go out and contribute in their communities.’’
Ferentz said that was the bottom line when he was on Fry’s staff and that remains the bottom line today.
“It’s great to have a player who is skilled, but if they don’t have the character to be successful it won’t mean much,’’ he said. “We try to be mindful of that when we go out.’’
7. After a January on the road and with recruiting in the rearview mirror, coach Kirk Ferentz said his staff’s next task will be to review film of the 2017 season and study the good and the bad of what took place during Iowa’s 8-5 year which culminated with a win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl.
“It’s good to be back here and first and foremost be around our players,’’ Ferentz said. “It’s good to have a chance to really go back and dissect the season. The first step to moving forward is looking backward and make sure we have studied everything.’’
8. Iowa’s recruiting class ranked seventh among its Big Ten peers, according to ratings put together by Rivals.
Ohio State and Penn State ranked second and fourth nationally in this year’s recruiting race, the only Big Ten teams in a top-10 led by Georgia.
Michigan at 15th and Nebraska at 18th were also in the top 20. The Cornhuskers are the only West Division team in the Big Ten with a higher-ranked recruiting class than Iowa.
9. Iowa has a new head athletic trainer for its football program.
Kammy Powell has been named as associate director, athletic training services at Iowa after working since 2013 on the athletic training staff at Minnesota.
She spent the past two years as the head athletic trainer for the Golden Gophers football program.
Powell has also worked as a contract athletic trainer for the United States Army, working with the 795th MP Battalion, and as an athletic trainer at Northern Illinois and with Orthopeadic Associates of Grand Rapids in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
A native of Clarkson, Michigan, Powell received her undergraduate degree from Aquinas College and has a master’s in sport management from Northern Illinois.
10. Coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed on Wednesday that offensive lineman Lucas LeGrand and wide receiver Adrian Falconer are no longer with the program.
LeGrand graduates in May and plans to forego his final year of eligibility.
Falconer, who has not caught a pass in his three years in an Iowa uniform, plans to pursue graduate transfer opportunities after earning his undergraduate degree in May.