Hawkeye football recruiting changes coming to light
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Seth Wallace is nearing the end of his first full year as the Iowa football program's recruiting coordinator.
With that, the Class of 2016 will be the first true measuring stick of the Wallace regime, if you want to call it that. He arrived in June (to take over for Culver's-bound Eric Johnson), and by that point he was playing catch-up on a lot of the important work that Wallace now talks about — face time, relationship-building — for the 2015 class.
(That class of 21 players, by the way, was ranked 13th among the Big Ten Conference's 14 teams, according to Rivals.com — 58th nationally.)
Wallace is now in better position to succeed than his predecessor. He's the head of a four-person department (no more lone wolf coordinator post) and now has a flashy new football facility to showcase during recruit visits.
And now changes in how Iowa recruits are starting to come to light.
"We're casting a bigger net. We're being a little bit more aggressive on the front end," Wallace said this week. "I believe it's paid off. This facility certainly has paid off. It is our showcase now. We've had a lot more kids on campus (this spring) than really we've ever had."
How aggressive? Iowa has offered nearly 150 scholarships to Class of 2016 recruits, according to HawkeyeReport.com.
That number reflects a philosophy change, partly brought on, Wallace said, by high schoolers' growing tendency to make earlier decisions to end the recruiting process.
"The biggest thing is being able to get ahead of the curve, which is probably the biggest change," Wallace said, "just how aggressively we've been on the front end of things."
So far, only two offers have knowingly accepted — quarterback Nathan Stanley (6-4, 193) and running back Toren Young (5-11, 206), both from Wisconsin. According to ESPN.com's recruiting scorecard as of Friday morning, Iowa's two commits are behind the pace of most in the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State has nine known verbals, tops in the league, followed by Maryland, Minnesota and Michigan with six each, and Penn State and Rutgers with five.
Wallace said that disparity wasn't a red flag, because he feels good about the relationships that are being forged. He figures Iowa will end up in the low- to mid-20s in signees for the Class of 2016.
"I guess we've fallen in love with some kids a little bit earlier than we have in the past," Wallace said, "but a lot of that goes back to we've had conversations, we've had them on the phone. We've spoken to high school coaches. We have an opportunity to speak with parents in some cases."
Making so many early offers isn't a reflection of taking random stabs at recruiting gold. On the contrary, Wallace seems to have a good grasp on the type of player head coach Kirk Ferentz likes to recruit and work within those parameters. The big challenge: Getting them on campus.
One of the reasons Wallace said the April 25 spring game won't include a slew of prospects is because the on-field work limits that quality coach-recruit face time. Bigger recruiting weekends are expected in June.
"They've got limited time. In some cases, finances are a part of this whole deal, and in order to go visit somewhere, in some cases that's not going to happen just out of curiosity," Wallace said. "You've got to show a commitment on your end, and we've done that. We recognize that it's not going to be a split-second decision when they get here. They're going to go and visit other schools."