Hawkeyes trying to turn Texas recruiting pipeline back on

Andy Hamilton
ahamilton@dmreg.com
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz

Texas had been fertile recruiting territory for Iowa football under Hayden Fry and at the beginning of the Kirk Ferentz era when the Hawkeyes leaned on assistant Carl Jackson's network of connections in his home state.

But the pipeline that once delivered Sedrick Shaw, Jonathan Babineaux, Drew Tate and dozens of others has nearly run dry in recent years. Iowa's roster last season featured just six Texans.

That number is about to increase, though. The Hawkeyes appear to be reemphasizing their old stomping grounds. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and receivers coach Bobby Kennedy spent Wednesday in the Dallas area.

The Hawkeyes have already locked up commitments from three players in that area – receivers Jerminic Smith and Emmanuel Ogwo and linebacker Justin Jinning – and they're making a push to nab Rivals.com four-star defensive lineman Darrion Daniels.

"I've heard Iowa more and more (this year) than I have over the last couple years," Rivals.com Mid-South recruiting analyst Jason Howell said Wednesday. "That's definitely trending upward. Even guys like (four-star running back) Aca'Cedric Ware, who ended up committing to USC, he was a guy Iowa was very much in the mix for."

There could be a ripple effect if Iowa can sway Daniels. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive lineman from Bishop Dunne High School also has a cousin (defensive end Jordon Robertson) and younger brother (Damion Daniels) on the Hawkeye radar.

Ferentz's program was the first school to offer Robertson and the Hawkeyes were in early on Darrion Daniels, who recently listed Iowa, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Missouri as his top six programs. He is scheduled to visit Iowa City this weekend.

"Iowa is one of those schools that has really made some strides down the stretch for him, really made up some ground," Howell said. "They've always been there in his top five or six. He's always spoken very highly of them and I get the sense from his comments that they've been consistent and he really likes that. I think he likes the fact that Iowa has shown interest in his two other family members and that's something that could help sway them.

"Plus, (Iowa assistant) LeVar Woods has been tremendous with that relationship and with his dad. They have really established a strong bond there. I think Iowa stands a chance. If I had to guess right now, I think Oklahoma would probably be the pick. That would be my guess, but that's just me speculating, not him telling me anything."

Here is Jason Howell's scouting report on Iowa's three commitments from Texas:

Justin Jinning (Linebacker, 6-1, 210, The Colony, Texas)

"Justin's a guy who kind of plays above his athleticism. His numbers are good, but he seems to play a little bit faster and I think a lot of that is due to his instincts and his ability to make quick reads, which is critical at linebacker. Decent size and those two things combine to make a guy who could be very productive."

Emmanuel Ogwo (Receiver, 6-0, 175, Mesquite, Texas)

"He was a guy who played on an offense that was more centered on another receiver (TCU recruit Jarrison Stewart). But he's a really athletic guy, really good size. He's a guy Iowa got in on early and they were his first offer. He did not go out for football (as a junior) and focused on track, but in the spring teams came by and saw this guy out there and Iowa was the first team to jump on board and they were rewarded for that."

Jerminic Smith (Receiver, 6-1, 175, Garland, Texas)

"Another big, athletic receiver. His team didn't have the best of luck on the field last year. He was kind of their lone playmaker, but he was a guy who was able to continue to make plays. He did a good job of adjusting to the football. He was one of the leading receivers in Dallas. He posted some really big numbers and he was a guy who got hot later in the recruiting process. He didn't go to a lot of camps, wasn't out there for a lot of people and there were some schools that were interested. But he was one of those guys people were trying to keep quiet a little bit, and Iowa was able to get in there and really do some good things early. Very athletic, very long, a guy with some nice athleticism to work with."