How Iowa football recruiting changed in Seth Wallace's first year

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Seth Wallace on Wednesday reached his first finish line at Iowa — National Signing Day — as the football team's recruiting coordinator.

And as you might expect for somebody in such a high-stakes, high-pressure position, there isn't much recovery time.

"You run the race as hard as you can and see where you finish," Wallace said, "then you start it all over again."

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How Wallace's first class with the Hawkeyes turns out won't be fully judged for another 4-5 years. That's when these high school seniors will be college seniors.

But it is fair to measure Wallace's first eight months on the job, and how things have changed since he replaced Eric Johnson — who famously left the program in April to open a Culver's restaurant.

Enter Wallace, a Grinnell native who stepped into a climate of change. A restructuring under head coach Kirk Ferentz created a recruiting department at Iowa — instead of relying on a single coordinator — with Wallace on point.

That gave Wallace more freedom to hit the road during the football season.

"We are more efficient," Wallace said, "I can assure you that."

Joining Wallace in the restructured department were Scott Southmayd (former quality-control director) as newly created director of player personnel; Max Allen (a new hire) as director of new media; and Kelvin Bell (former grad assistant) as director of on-campus recruiting.

Wallace said it'll take time to see how the changes they've made in recruiting approach pan out. Outside Iowa, which produced nine members of his first class, he's emphasized Texas and the Southeast, including Florida.

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Wallace counts the in-house relationships he's formed and communicating the message among his top achievements in his short time as Iowa's recruiting coordinator.

"The nice thing is you've got the support of everyone on staff," Wallace says, "Everybody's in on making sure that we continue to improve in our recruiting efforts."

Changes in Iowa's recruiting landscape for the future will be the new, glitzy football facility as well as the probable adoption of an early signing period — something Wallace said will help schools like Iowa immensely.

What kind of player Iowa recruits, however, isn't changing.

Ferentz's one-word description of this program is "developmental," and his signees in this class are emblematic of that — players who have athleticism (often with position-change flexibility), room to physically grow and intense work ethic and a team mentality.

Finding those players, Wallace said, is easy — relatively speaking. Once they've zeroed in on a recruit …

"That's where our job is difficult," Wallace says, "You've got to find time to interface with the individual. You've got to find time to talk to all the parties involved with the individual making a decision. You've got to develop a relationship. You've really got to do your homework."

And that lifestyle has kept Wallace on the go. With a 3-year-old son and a wife due with their second child in July, Wallace presses on. During the final recruiting push, it wasn't unusal for him to arrive at the airport at 11 a.m., then fly out the next morning again at 6 a.m.

"It becomes a grind," he says, "but it's all part of this time of year."