The junior forward says ‘the defense softened’ when shots stopped falling. Mark Emmert / The Register
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Ahmad Wagner is considering staying at Iowa as he makes his switch from basketball forward to football receiver, he said Wednesday in a teleconference with local reporters.
“They’ve reached out to me. The offensive coordinator (Brian Ferentz) did. They’ve been very respectful,” Wagner said of the Hawkeyes. “I’m at this moment just taking in any consideration of who would give me a chance.”
Wagner, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound junior, announced his decision to give up basketball to try his hand at football Tuesday. He said he’s in no hurry to decide what school to play for, funneling any requests through his parents, Lee and Teresa Bondurant Wagner.
But he’s also aware that if there is mutual interest between Iowa’s coaches and himself, he could play two seasons of major-college football since he wouldn’t have to sit a year after transferring.
“I am comfortable with Iowa. Iowa’s always treated me well,” Wagner, an Ohio native, said of his three years here. “That’s always important. Everything’s going to go into consideration when I make my decision. Sitting out, being able to play right away.”
Wagner said he hasn’t set up any formal workouts for Iowa’s coaches and isn’t sure how that process works. His first priority is to remain in good academic standing (he’s on pace to graduate next May) and to start reshaping his body for a challenging new sport.
Wagner averaged 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds this winter. He was better as a sophomore, putting up 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds while earning more extended playing time with his hustle and versatility as a defender.
But he also starred at Wayne High School in Yellow Springs, Ohio, as a senior wide receiver. Wagner was named all-state after catching 58 passes for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns.
PREVIOUSLY: Ahmad Wagner talks about his multisport talents
He chose to play basketball at Iowa, but football was always in the back of his mind, Wagner said. He believed he had the talent to excel at that sport as well.
“It’s been hard to ignore people always asking about football, making the change,” Wagner said.
“I watched football games and those memories and that feeling of just playing would come back.”
It wasn’t until Iowa’s basketball season concluded with a 14-19 record, however, that Wagner made his final decision. He was so devoted to basketball that he hasn’t even caught a football in the past three years, he said.
He still considers wide receiver his natural position, but said he’s not opposed to moving to tight end if that’s where his new coaching staff sees him as a better fit. His size would indicate that it is. But he also anchored his high school's 4x100 relay team that took fourth in state.
“I’m excited to get out and be able to work on my body, being able to work on my hands and get the intangibles back to be able to have success on the football field,” Wagner said.
The Hawkeyes have a pair of standout tight ends in Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. Their bigger need is clearly at wide receiver.
Former Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels, who also hails from Ohio, was quick to let Wagner know where he belonged.
“James texted me and just congratulated me on making my decision and nudged me and wanted me to go to Iowa,” Wagner said.