Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz discusses the defensive-back commitments in his Class of 2018. Chad Leistikow | Hawkcentral.com
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Kirk Ferentz is excited about the close bonds his newest recruits have already formed with the football program.
"Most of these players have been here a lot, and we feel really comfortable with the mesh between them and us," the 19-year Iowa head coach said at a Wednesday news conference at which he provided highlights of his 2018 recruiting class, which includes 12 athletes who officially signed by mid-afternoon.
Ferentz said he expects to have 16-18 athletes to sign with the Hawkeyes by the time the early commitment period ends Friday. Combined with February's signing period, he anticipates a class of 20-22.
"I'm still in favor of an early signing period. I'm not sure this is the best time," Ferentz said one week before his Hawkeyes face Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Some early thoughts from Ferentz on his new players:
SPENCER PETRAS: The strong-armed quarterback from Northern California chose Iowa after originally committing to Oregon State. Hawkeye quarterbacks coach Ken O'Keefe, who spent a lot of time on the West Coast in recent weeks watching him and visiting with him. "Every quarterback Ken had seen, he'd always find something wrong," Ferentz said of Iowa's early targets at that position. "It's kind of been a long, windy road. ... Spencer got knocked out (of the California playoffs) I believe on a Saturday night, came here, was sleep-deprived, got here on a Sunday afternoon. ... We just felt really good about the way he projected with us."
DILLON DOYLE: The linebacker from Iowa City West is the son of Iowa's longtime strength and conditioning coach, Chris Doyle. He is considered the third-best recruit in the class. "Dillon is part of the family," Ferentz said of the only recruit he's known since infancy. "I think I know him pretty well, who he is, what he stands for. ... I feel glad that he likes our program."
DAVIYON NIXON: The defensive lineman actually signed with Iowa a year ago, but needed to shore up his academic standing and spent the past year at Iowa Western Community College. Ferentz said Iowa linebackers coach Seth Wallace was instrumental in keeping in contact with Nixon and his family. Nixon turned aside late interest from Alabama to stick with the Hawkeyes. "We tried to make sure we had a path for him," Ferentz said of Nixon's year in limbo. "Fortunately, I think the family's appreciative of it. We were looking out for Daviyon's best interest."
Ferentz said the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who will have three years of eligibility left, has a chance to play right away. "We'll graduate a really good football player in Nate Bazata. I think it is always beneficial for guys up front to have a little age and experience. We want to rotate players up front. For him to get in the rotation, I think that's really realistic and I hope it does happen."
SAMSON EVANS: Ferentz repeatedly compared the standout quarterback from Illinois to former Iowa wide receiver Ed Hinkel. Hinkel also played quarterback in high school, was briefly tried at safety for the Hawkeyes and then found his niche as a sure-handed receiver. Evans, who rushed for 2,211 yards this season while leading Prairie Ridge to a second consecutive state title, projects as either a wide receiver or running back, Ferentz said. He stands 6-1, 205 pounds. "He's probably not a quarterback, but he's a good football player and his team always seems to win," Ferentz said. "He probably could play running back. We'll figure all that out when he gets here."