Hawkeyes, Spartans put recruiting on hold

Andy Hamilton

College football coaches hit the road this week for an active period on the recruiting trail.

Well, most of them did, at least.

Iowa and Michigan State, on the other hand, informed prospects of a more pressing matter at hand.

“We apologize to talented recruits all over the nation,” Michigan State’s staff wrote on a Twitter message. “Our coaching staff will not be able to visit this week. We are preparing for the Big Ten championship game. Thanks for your patience and understanding.”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said a couple members of his staff will leave Saturday night from Indianapolis to begin recruiting work and other members of the staff will hit the road Sunday morning. For now, the undivided attention of the Hawkeye staff is on Saturday night’s Big Ten title tilt against the Spartans.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, left, hugs center Austin Blythe as  Iowa beat Minnesota, 40-35, last week. Ferentz will see Blythe and 20 other seniors make their last Kinnick Stadium appearance as collegians on Saturday.

“We just tried to explain to (recruits) that this is full metal jacket right now,” Ferentz said. “We're straight ahead trying to get ready for this ballgame. They certainly understand that, and I think they all want what we want – to see a good football game on Saturday.”

The Big Ten championship game won’t be the only Iowa-Michigan State clash this year. The Hawkeyes and Spartans are duking it out for a pair of top offensive line prospects. Iowa and Michigan State both made the final cut for South Dakota native Matt Farniok and Michigan’s Alaric Jackson.

It’s hardly a rare occurrence that the Hawkeyes and Spartans wind up chasing the same prospect. Iowa has two offensive linemen – Jordan Walsh and James Daniels – who picked the Hawkeyes over Michigan State.

The Spartans have a couple linemen who considered Iowa before picking Michigan State – brothers Jack and Brian Allen. The Hawkeyes offered Brian a scholarship in 2011 before he played his first down of varsity football.

“Probably the most surprising thing I’ve had happen in my life,” Allen told the Iowa City Press-Citizen in 2011. “I didn’t see that coming from anywhere. I don’t really think a lot of big, D-1 schools offer a lot of freshmen, especially linemen, this early. I haven’t even played a varsity football game yet.”

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How they got where they are 

Iowa starters

WR — Tevaun Smith — Canada native attended a prep school in Connecticut and picked up a three-star rating and offers from Connecticut and Temple.

LT — Boone Myers — Webster City native joined the program in 2013 as a walk-on.

LG — Sean Welsh — Three-star prospect from Ohio picked up more than a dozen FBS offers, including Miami (Fla.), West Virginia, Indiana and Louisville.

C — Austin Blythe — Four-star prospect from Williamsburg was ranked the No. 7 offensive guard nationally by in 2011. Selected the Hawkeyes over offers from Stanford, Kansas State and Wisconsin.

Iowa offensive lineman Austin Blythe waits for a play to come in against Iowa State on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

RG — Jordan Walsh — Illinois native was ranked the No. 10 offensive guard prospect in the 2011 class. The four-star recruit picked the Hawkeyes over at least 15 other Power 5 offers, including USC, Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee.

RT — Cole Croston — Sergeant Bluff native joined the program in 2012 as a walk-on.

TE — Henry Krieger Coble — Three-star tight end from Mount Pleasant picked Iowa over Iowa State.

QB — C.J. Beathard — Three-star prospect originally committed to Mississippi before the Rebels went through a coaching change. Also had offers from Tulane and SMU.

RB — Jordan Canzeri — Two-star tailback from New York picked Iowa over Villanova, Connecticut and Indiana.

FB — Macon Plewa — Wisconsin native joined the program in 2011 as a walk-on.

WR — Matt VandeBerg —Two-star receiver from South Dakota had no other major college offers.

DE — Nate Meier — Led Fremont-Mills of Tabor to the 2011 8-player state championship before Iowa extended a late scholarship offer. Picked the Hawkeyes over Northern Iowa and South Dakota.

DT — Jaleel Johnson — The most highly-recruited starter on the Iowa defense was a four-star prospect coming out of high school in Illinois. Selected Iowa over offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Arizona and others.

DT — Nathan Bazata — Eight-player standout from Nebraska earned three-star status coming out of high school. Picked Iowa over South Dakota State.

DE — Parker Hesse — Played quarterback and linebacker for a Waukon team that reached the Class 2A title game when he was a senior. Two-star prospect had no other FBS offers.

LB —Ben Niemann — Two-star athlete originally committed to play receiver at Northern Illinois before Iowa convinced him to play linebacker.

LB — Josey Jewell — The Decorah native was a two-star prospect and a late addition to Iowa’s 2013 class. The Hawkeyes were the only FBS program to offer him a scholarship.

LB — Cole Fisher — Three-star linebacker from Omaha picked Iowa over Kansas.

CB — Desmond King — Three-star cornerback from Detroit flipped from Ball State to Iowa just before signing day in 2013. Also held offers from Indiana, Wisconsin and several other MAC programs.

FS — Jordan Lomax —Three-star prospect from Maryland picked the Hawkeyes over offers from Stanford, Maryland, Louisville and Virginia.

SS — Miles Taylor —Three-star defensive back visited Iowa just before signing day in 2014 and flipped from Georgia Tech to the Hawkeyes.

CB — Greg Mabin — Florida native was a three-star receiver when he signed with Iowa in 2012. Picked the Hawkeyes over Tulane and Jacksonville State.

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Michigan State starters

WR — Aaron Burbridge — Four-star receiver from Michigan. Ranked the No. 1 overall player in Michigan in the 2012 class and the No. 103 prospect nationally. Picked the Spartans over offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan.

LT — Jack Conklin — Michigan native joined the program in 2012 as a walk-on who was awarded a scholarship in January of 2013.

LG — Brian Allen — Four-star lineman (’14) from Illinois. His first scholarship offer came from Iowa and arrived before when Allen was a freshman, before he played his first down of varsity football. He picked up more than a dozen offers from Power 5 programs before picking the Spartans over the Hawkeyes and Ole Miss.

C — Jack Allen — Three-star lineman (’11) from Illinois. Brian Allen’s older brother selected the Spartans over Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana.

RG — Donavon Clark —Three-star lineman (’11) from Ohio picked the Spartans over offers from USC, Tennessee, West Virginia and others.

RT — Kodi Kieler —Three-star prospect (’12) from Michigan selected the Spartans over Minnesota, Purdue and offers from several MAC schools.

TE — Paul Lang —Two-star tight end (’11) from Pennsylvania had offers from Michigan State and Toledo.

QB — Connor Cook — Ranked the No. 13 pro-style quarterback in the 2011 class by Michigan State was the first school to offer the three-star prospect.

RB — Gerald Holmes — Three-star tailback from Michigan was ranked the No. 45 running back nationally in the 2013 class. Picked the Spartans over offers from Central Michigan and Toledo.

FB — Tevon Pendleton — Joined the program in 2011 as a walk-on.

WR — Macgarrett Kings — Three-star receiver (’12) from Florida picked the Spartans over offers from Georgia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and others.

DE — Shilique Calhoun —Three-time first-team all-Big Ten pick arrived at Michigan State as a three-star prospect (’11) from New Jersey. Picked the Spartans over offers from North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, West Virginia and others.

DT — Joel Heath —Three-star defensive lineman (’11) from Ohio picked the Spartans over offers from Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina State.

NT — Malik McDowell —The five-star crown jewel of Michigan State’s 2014 class was ranked the No. 2 defensive end in the country coming out of high school. The Michigan native picked the Spartans over Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State but also had offers from Alabama, LSU, USC and dozens of other Power 5 programs.

DE —Lawrence Thomas —Four-star from Detroit was ranked the No. 55 overall prospect in the 2011 class. Selected Michigan State over offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, Florida and others.

LB —Darien Harris —Three-star linebacker (’11) from Maryland picked the Spartans over offers from Illinois, Syracuse, Purdue and others.

LB — Riley Bullough —Three-star prospect (’12) from Michigan followed footsteps of his brother, father and uncle, all of whom played for the Spartans, and picked Michigan State over offers from Iowa and Wisconsin.

LB — Jon Reschke —Four-star prospect from Michigan was ranked the No. 12 outside linebacker in the country in 2013 by Picked the Spartans over Michigan.

CB — Darian Hicks — Three-star defensive back (’13) from Ohio picked up an Iowa offer, but selected the Spartans over Penn State, West Virginia and other Power 5 programs.

S — Demetrious Cox —Four-star defensive back (’12) from Pennsylvania was ranked the No. 13 safety in the country. Power 5 offer list included Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin.

S — Montae Nicholson —Four-star prospect and top-ranked player in Pennsylvania in the 2014 class picked up nearly 30 offers before picking Michigan State over Florida State, Oregon, Pitt and Virginia Tech.

CB — Arjen Colquhoun — Three-star prospect from Canada selected the Spartans over offers from Central Michigan and Rice.