Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: A closer look at Iowa's WR recruiting; what happens with Tyler Cook?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

I had a sports talk radio show back in college at San Diego State. It was called "Aztec Circle." Basically, my friends and I would debate sports topics for meaningless points, much like ESPN’s "Around the Horn."

Warren Central Warriors wide receiver David Bell (4) receives a 6-yard touchdown pass from Warren Central Warriors quarterback Jayden George (11), despite defensive pressure from Ben Davis Giants wide receiver Jermaine Hoskins (12), during second quarter action between the Ben Davis Giants and the Warren Central Warriors at Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. Warren Central lead at halftime, 22-15.

Normally, I’d open the show with some rock song.

But during college basketball's March Madness, I’d play Andy Williams’ Christmas classic, "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Because March Madness is the most wonderful time of the year. And no one can tell me different.

This is also an interesting time for recruitment. Early-deciding juniors are announcing football commitments or releasing top-whatevers lists. Basketball players are transferring and opening up scholarships. Spring and summer basketball evaluation periods are rapidly approaching.

So, let’s get to your questions:

Before I get into the first part of this question, I want to address the second part. I agree that Iowa and Wisconsin run similar offenses that rely heavily on the ground game and often tight ends, too.

But while Nebraska and Michigan State also boast strong rush attacks, their offenses have recently featured receivers much more. 

Here’s your proof: Over the past five seasons, Iowa and Wisconsin have had six seasons of 500-plus yards receiving by a receiver; Nebraska has had 10, and Michigan State has had nine. As a result, Lincoln and East Lansing are more popular landing spots for the "legit" wide receivers @ciedwards05 is talking about.

According to 247Sports, Iowa and Wisconsin have landed 11 three-star receivers over the past five seasons, and the Badgers have also landed one four-star receiver.

Meanwhile, Nebraska has landed 10 three-stars and three four-stars, while the Spartans have gotten seven three-stars and five four-stars.

At this point, Iowa isn't expected to beat the Nebraskas and Michigan States for elite receiver talent. It came close with Oliver Martin, but that was largely because he lived 10 minutes from campus.

Of course, that could change if the Hawkeyes’ offense features its wide receivers more. That type of change often relies on personnel. When Iowa had Marvin McNutt, for instance, it threw the ball to him a whole heck of a lot.

And here’s where we get to the first part of the question: While they haven’t signed the best of the best receivers lately, Iowa does land good talent at that position.

I like Brandon Smith a lot. Devonte Young could still make something happen. Jerminic Smith was a nice three-star receiver out of Texas (although he left the program after his sophomore year). Manny Rugamba was a great high school receiver before focusing on cornerback at Iowa. Ihmir Smith-Marsette looks like a steal. For next year, I really like what Tyrone Tracy brings to the table.

All those guys are mid-level three-star prospects, much like McNutt was. Then he messed around and caught 2,861 yards.

In the past four or five years, none of Iowa’s receivers have panned out to be elite like McNutt. But it just takes one star to ignite the offense for that position.

Then, maybe, the Oliver Martins of the world take a closer look.

Iowa does, however, have a great chance to get four-star receiver David Bell out of Indianapolis. He attends Warren Central, where he was teammates with 2018 signee Julius Brents. The Hawkeyes are competing with Michigan State and Nebraska for Bell, along with Michigan and Ohio State.

I went over this in detail in last week's mailbag. Short answer: I like the graduate transfer option for Iowa, should a scholarship open up. Specifically, I like it for a low-to-mid-major point guard looking to prove he belongs at the Big Ten level for a season, before the Hawkeyes bring in a 2019 point guard.

If Cook doesn't decide to stay in the draft, I have a hard time seeing him go anywhere but Iowa. He wouldn't want to sit out a season at this point, and that's what he'd have to do if he elected to transfer.

Oooooh man. This is a really good question.

I've seen AJ Green in high school and Jordan Bohannon in college. Green is a better college prospect as a high schooler, but Bohannon has turned out to be a heck of a college player

Other people could probably answer this question better than me, because I didn't see Bohannon's senior year at Linn-Mar. But just by comparing the numbers, his and Green's senior years are almost identical:

Bohannon: 25.8 ppg, 42.8 percent on 3-pointers and 2.5 assists per game

Green: 25.8 ppg, 48.8 percent on 3-pointers and 2.8 assists per game

There are a couple differences that might give Green's season the slight edge.

Cedar Falls' AJ Green (4) holds the trophy as Cedar Falls celebrates its 65-45 4A state basketball championship victory over Iowa City, West on Friday, March 9, 2018, in Des Moines.

First, the Northern Iowa signee made 119 3-pointers this season, the single-season record in Class 4A; Bohannon made 92. And second, Green led Cedar Falls to a state title this season; Bohannon didn't win a state title as a senior.

It's splitting hairs, I know. But when it comes to two all-time Iowa high school greats, that's what you have to do.

That's just for their senior seasons, too. Please don't ask me to compare their careers.

That'd be splitting molecules. 

Zero, good sir.

My fuel for Iowa state boys' basketball week consisted of donuts and water. But I'm not quite sure how you disagreed with me there. Maybe you needed some donuts and water.

Putting me on the spot, huh? If you have met me in person or read any of my previous mailbags, you know I’m not a huge fan of speculating on a kid’s college decision.

But I will say this: At the beginning of Jack Campbell’s football offseason, it felt like Iowa State was the front-runner. That feeling isn’t nearly as strong anymore, with Iowa picking up momentum as the offseason has progressed.

Campbell is considering Minnesota, but this seems like a two-horse race between the Cyclones and Hawkeyes, which happens less often than you think. The two schools obviously pursue a lot of the same prospects. But it’s not every day that one of the top priority targets for both programs will choose between the two.

Bragging rights are on the line here.

Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.