Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: Impact of Andrew Francis leaving? Best use for Tyler Cook's scholarship?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Lots of words this week. Read them at your leisure, friends. 

What's the impact of Andrew Francis leaving?

In case you missed it: Longtime Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis is leaving the Hawkeyes. We don't know exactly where he'll coach next year because final paperwork hasn't been completed, but it won't be in Iowa City.

Our Chad Leistikow broke the news after I'd written this mailbag, so I'm ever so sorry that I'm answering a question that wasn't directly asked.

(I know. Blasphemy!)

Francis' departure will obviously have an impact.

For one thing, the timing isn't ideal. The first NCAA evaluation period is April 26-28 and I'd imagine Iowa will work quickly to hire his replacement before then. You want a full staff for the evaluation periods, as you’re often spread throughout several cities and states. This is a prime time for basketball recruiting, so losing a coach right now hurts.

Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis, left, talks with Iowa forward Tyler Cook (25) after a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Sherman Dillard and Kirk Speraw will likely take over more responsibilities for the prospects Francis was recruiting. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, by this point, Fran McCaffery is already involved with many of their top 2020 targets.

Francis will be missed. He was a tireless recruiter who was well-liked in the state and region. The East Coast and Minnesota were a couple of his fertile recruiting grounds, and he also did excellent work in Indiana.

I'll personally miss him. Francis was a great guy to talk to. He knows basketball like a first language, and he'll be a strong addition to any university.

Bottom line: This is definitely a bump in the road, but coaching changes happen all the time. Iowa will hire another assistant and work to move forward, full-steam ahead with its recruiting. Let's see who McCaffery picks. 

What are the best options/use of Tyler Cook’s scholarship? — @iowafanwilliams

With Maishe Dailey's transfer and Tyler Cook's NBA departure, the Hawkeyes have two scholarships to work with. There's no guarantee they use both in 2019, but I'd imagine they'll look to use at least one.

Let's quickly look at next year's projected roster ... 

Three freshmen in Patrick McCaffery, Joe Toussaint and redshirt C.J. Fredrick.

Three sophomores in Connor McCaffery, Joe Wieskamp and redshirt Jack Nunge.

Two juniors in Luka Garza and redshirt Cordell Pemsl.

Three seniors in Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss and Ryan Kriener.

You figure four of the starting five will be Bohannon, Wieskamp, Moss and Garza, with the rest of the roster vying for that fifth spot. The bench could run five-deep, depending on whether any freshmen redshirt.

The ideal destinations for a graduate transfer are teams with a lack of experience, a glaring hole in the rotation or lots of minutes up for grabs.

Iowa has none of that.

Iowa Hawkeyes forward Tyler Cook (25) speak with the media during practice before the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 21, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

Here's what Fran McCaffery told Leistikow about grad transfers last May: "We’re not a place that’s set up to sort of just 'ball' for a couple months, then just take off and not really have any intention of finishing. So, we have to look at serious students that want to come. And then you have to be respectful of the guys you have. Because if you bring a grad transfer in, he’s got to play. Otherwise, you shouldn’t bring him in."

That leads to a sit-out transfer.

Iowa has been tied to a couple, including South Dakota State sophomore guard David Jenkins Jr. and Notre Dame sophomore wing D.J. Harvey. 

Adding a sit-out also makes sense because it would help ease the burden on Iowa's all-important 2020 recruitment, and it aligns more with McCaffery's opinion on transfers.

It's worth keeping an eye on the top remaining high school seniors, as well. 

Out of the 3 big time D-Line prospects in 2021 (Travion Ford, TJ Bollers, and Gabriel Rubio) what are Iowa’s chances with each? — @hawkeye_sports

The Hawkeyes are positioned well with three elite 2021 defensive line prospects in Clear Creek Amana four-star defensive end T.J. Bollers, Missouri four-star defensive tackle Gabriel Rubio and Missouri four-star defensive end Travion Ford.

Iowa should view Bollers as a must-have.

He's a legacy recruit who grew up in a Hawkeye family about 15 minutes from Kinnick Stadium. A kid like him living in in your backyard needs to be prioritized. There's mutual interest here, although Bollers appears to be just starting his national recruitment.

Rubio has been on campus three times since September. Iowa offered in December, and Rubio told me he plans to return to Iowa City on June 2 for camp.

"I like everything that Iowa has to offer," he told me Tuesday. "I love that (head) coach (Kirk) Ferentz has had Iowa competing at a high level for such a long time. I love that they are proven to move players into the NFL. I love the defense that Iowa runs and think that I will really be able to contribute quickly."

He said Notre Dame, Nebraska, Kentucky, Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois and Kansas are the other schools recruiting him the hardest. Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Texas, LSU and Texas A&M are also showing interest.

Ford is a tremendous athlete, and there's a good chance he winds up a five-star recruit. Another December offer, Ford was most recently on campus for a February junior day.

He told me he's still setting up his summer schedule, but that he "definitely" wants to visit the Hawkeyes again. Other than Iowa, he said Alabama, Missouri, Ohio State, Kentucky, Nebraska, LSU, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Utah are recruiting him the hardest.

When it comes to what makes Iowa stand out, Ford looks at consistency.

"I love that Iowa coaches have been there for a long time," he said, "rather than changing coaching staffs every couple of years."

Of the three, I'd say Iowa has the best chance with Bollers, then Rubio then Ford.

How is Elijah Yelverton only a 3 star? — @TheeJustinM

There's a wide spectrum with online recruiting services' three-star evaluations, and it can pretty much be broken down to high-, mid- and low-three-star.

Yelverton would definitely fit into the high-three-star category. Metaphorically speaking, he's inches from a fourth star, and I would not be surprised to see him bumped up to four stars during his senior year.

Bishop Dunne junior tight end Elijah Yelverton (12) crosses the goal line in front of All Saints senior cornerback Wil Shipman in the first half of a high school football game on Friday, Sept, 28, 2018, at Earl Hayes Stadium in Dallas.

I'll direct you to his film — which shows a nearly college-ready pass-catching machine — and his offers. Yelverton held 36 offers, including from LSU, Penn State, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Oregon.

Pay more attention to that list than the number of stars next to his name.

When does Jace Andregg start pulling in bigger offers? — @BenFlaherty21

At last weekend's The Opening Regional in St. Louis, Solon 2020 receiver/athlete Jace Andregg posted a football rating of 140.61 — the best in the country so far, with four more regionals to go. For reference, Oliver Martin scored a 133.02 as a junior.

Andregg's individual test results: 4.73-second 40-yard dash, 41.1-inch vertical, 8,390 watts of peak power, 3.88-second agility drill and 42-foot power ball toss. 

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder holds offers from Northern Iowa and South Dakota State.

We currently have Andregg ranked No. 11 among in-state 2020 prospects. Iowa and Iowa State are interested, and he's visited both schools several times. He's been on the map since last year's Opening Regional, when he logged a 125.19 rating.

But there's much more to a prospect's stock than how he fares in a combine setting. 

Andregg still has a ways to go before he's in Power Five territory. For one thing: He just doesn't have enough reps for top-tier schools to evaluate. 

Cedar Rapids Prairie's Jace Andregg, left, runs the ball against Cedar Falls in the first half Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, in Waverly, Iowa.

He spent his first three seasons at run-heavy Cedar Rapids Prairie. He caught 15 passes for 118 yards and rushed 13 times for 129 yards as a sophomore. A hand injury limited him to four games as a junior; he caught nine passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 33 times for 290 yards and three touchdowns.

Seeking more opportunity to showcase receiver-specific skills, Andregg transferred to Solon this winter. The Spartans run a more balanced offensive attack, and they've got a good quarterback returning for his third year behind center.

If Andregg has a stellar senior year, it's not impossible to imagine Iowa or Iowa State reviewing his film in November or December and extending a late offer.

In the meantime, if you're an FCS school, Andregg is worth strong consideration. 

There's no doubt he's an elite athlete, even if he's not an elite football player right now.

Just get him signed and in your building. Maybe redshirt him. See how his body takes to the weight training program and find the best spot on the field for him. With his frame, he could turn out to be a receiver, linebacker or even strong safety.

Andregg told me that was UNI's message — that they're looking at him as a receiver, but that he could also project at several different positions.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.