Pinstripe Bowl takeaways: Jackson 'in the middle' on NFL decision, Recinos gets a scholarship
NEW YORK — Two Iowa juniors who are pondering making an early jump to the NFL said after Wednesday’s Pinstripe Bowl victory that they won’t make their decisions until next month.
“I’m getting close,” Hawkeye cornerback Josh Jackson said. “I don’t think it’s a hard decision. It’s just talking out all the pros of coming back and all the cons of staying.”
Jackson tied a school record with his eighth interception of the season in Iowa’s 27-20 win over Boston College at Yankee Stadium. Some NFL scouts have called him the best college cornerback in the nation. The Texas native was a unanimous all-American pick.
He said if he gets word that he’ll be a first-round draft choice, that could possibly sway him to forego his senior year at Iowa.
“I still have a mind of my own, and I can make my decision,” Jackson said. “It’s kind of in the middle (between staying and leaving)."
Jackson said he is aware of the talk that he’d be the first cornerback chosen in the NFL Draft. He thinks he’s the best at his position in the country.
As for center James Daniels, he acknowledged that he had entered his name for consideration by the NFL Draft Advisory Board. That group offers feedback to potential early draft entrants about where they might be selected.
“Right now, I’m just focused on celebrating a win with my teammates. I have time to make a decision,” Daniels said.
“I wouldn’t want to hear (from the advisory board) before the bowl game. I was just focused on doing what I had to do (Wednesday).”
Daniels enrolled at Iowa early and just turned 20 in September. He said he is close to having enough credits to graduate, and he is not concerned about being too young for the NFL.
“Age really doesn’t matter,” Daniels said.
DEFENSE RALLIES: Hawkeyes hold firm in second half
Iowa’s no-slip kicker now on scholarship
It was a great few days in New York for Miguel Recinos.
On Tuesday, after the team’s final pre-Pinstripe Bowl practice, Kirk Ferentz told him the news every walk-on aims to hear: He’ll be placed on a football scholarship.
On Wednesday, the Mason City native came up big despite terrible kicking conditions at Yankee Stadium.
The ground was so hard that Recinos went to a one-step wind-up on his field-goal attempts. On kickoffs, he was trying to get as much movement as he could on them. There was no way he could get a big run-up to the football.
“I talked to Coach (LeVar) Woods and told him I’m not going to be able to blast it on kickoffs,” Recinos said. “Warming up, (kicker) Keith (Duncan) and I fell on our butt a few times.”
It worked. Boston College started its first drive at its own 11; it started another one at the 14.
Recinos came up clutch. His second field goal of the day, a 38-yarder, broke a 17-all tie with 11:32 to play. He credited great teamwork from holder Colten Rastetter and long snapper Tyler Kluver.
“A perfect game, I guess you could say,” he said. “Made all of our kicks.”
As for the scholarship? He earned it. He finished the year 11-for-13 on field-goal tries and a perfect 44-for-44 on PATs.
“It was really cool. Crazy 24 hours,” Recinos said. “It’s a huge honor. Kids dream of getting scholarships to play at Iowa. … I don’t think it’s all hit me yet. We’ve had a lot happen in a short period of time. We finally won a bowl game.”
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta presented a game ball to Kirk Ferentz after his seventh bowl win as the Hawkeyes’ coach. The milestone that the ball represented was a biggie — Ferentz has 143 wins, tied for most in school history with his predecessor, Hayden Fry.
“Probably one of the best decisions I’ve made, outside of asking my wife to marry me, was coming to Iowa in 1981 (as an assistant on Fry’s staff),” Ferentz said. “And like so many things in life, you have no idea what you’re about to walk into.”
Ferentz, who will receive a $500,000 bonus for getting an eight-win season, was apparently emotional in the locker room.
“How he cares about his players,” defensive end Parker Hesse said, “is what makes him such a treat to play for. A guy you’ll really follow anywhere.”
Hawkeye tackles survived
A true freshman at left tackle in Tristan Wirfs, and a first-time right tackle Levi Paulsen — and Iowa survived.
Paulsen, a redshirt sophomore, was thrust into action for his second career start (the other was at right guard in 2016) after regular left tackle Alaric Jackson was suspended for the bowl game.
“The good Lord’s a good man,” Paulsen said to open his interview. “And I thank Him for all that he’s done.”
He also thanked the coaches for a good gameplan. The Iowa running game got better as the game went along. Taking away three sacks of Nate Stanley for 24 yards, the Hawkeyes rushed 36 times for 125 yards.
“I’ve been sitting there in the 2 spot all season ready to go,” Paulsen said. “I had a couple iffy plays, but I thank the coaches for trusting in me. I think we did a pretty good job up front, getting some holes for Akrum (Wadley).”
MORE ON WADLEY: Senior running back, Hawkeyes finish the fight
Milestones and injuries
Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg caught a pass for the 32nd consecutive game, a bubble screen that gained nine yards. The senior ends his career having played in 54 games, a school record. ... Tight end Noah Fant's second-quarter touchdown catch was his 11th of the season. The sophomore has 12 for his career and is one shy of tying Mike Flagg's school-record 13 for tight ends. ... Ihmir Smith-Marsette was held out of Wednesday’s game with a soft-tissue injury he suffered during bowl preparation. ... The Hawkeyes next host Northern Illinois on Sept. 1, 2018.