Copycat Recruiting

May 10, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

An article in the Grand Island (Nebraska) Independent newspaper ‘verbalizes’ what Iowa fans have come to learn through the years; when Iowa offers an offensive line prospect, other offers are going to follow…and soon.

Such was the case for Zach Sterup, a 6-9, 265-pound offensive lineman from Hastings.  In this story.  Sterup and his high school coach say the following:

“I thought it was going to be pretty unique, especially that early,” Sterup said of the Iowa offer from January. “Then he (Iowa OL Coach Reese Morgan) told me that usually when they offer somebody that early, especially a lineman, then some other schools will offer just because Iowa offered. He tried to brace me for it.”

Then this from Sterup’s coach:

“When Iowa really got on the board early, I think other people began to kind of notice and follow along, too,” Tesmer said. “And the coaches at Iowa told us that was probably going to happen.”

They say immitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Well, I guess you have that, however this is a phenomena that Iowa fans have been following for years.

Iowa has a sterling reputation of finding diamonds in the rough and an even better reputation of developing those players into elite performers.

Bob Sanders, Robert Gallery, Bruce Nelson, Marshal Yanda, Sean Considine, Dallas Clark, Brandon Meyers, Mitch King, Matt Kroul, Chad Greenway, Kyle Calloway, Scott Chandler, Bradley Fletcher, Brett Greenwood, Karl Klug…I could go on and on but I am getting to the point of overkill.

Included in those names are a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a few All Pro’s and more…

I question I have often wondered is if these kids are getting the most out of their talent and/or work ethic if they choose to go someplace other than Iowa?

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I’ll admit that sounds arrogant..however, it’s tough to refute the job Iowa has done in identifying talent and then developing that talent.  There are close to 40 Ferentz-era Hawkeyes in the NFL right now.  Every starting tight end at Iowa under Kirk Ferentz has been drafted.  Nearly 10 Ferentz era offensive linemen have been drafted, as have four linebackers.  Numerous defensive backs from the Ferentz era have been drafted, including back to back cornerbacks in the past two drafts.

The players I listed above did not come out of high school with blue chip pedigrees; in a lot of ways, these guys were ‘muts’ if you will…players that few BCS programs paid any attention to, but players that came in with a chip on their shoulders and bought into the Iowa philosophy.

The hard part is to communicate that to players each year in a way that doesn’t come off overly negative, as I have not heard any negative recruiting stories connected to the Iowa staff.

We have seen the evidence, the coaches know the truth, but how do you tell an 18 year old kid that if you come to Iowa, you are going to get the absolute most out of your ability due to the resources and personnel that are there to assist you, and it’s better there than some of the other schools that are trying to convince you of the same?

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No, Iowa doesn’t have the market cornered on player development, but when you read what NFL executives have to say about how they view Iowa players when evaluating their possible draft choices, the kids that come from Iowa get bonus points, because they know the road those players had to go down to get on the field at Iowa and be successful.

In the case of Sterup, after Iowa offered, the usual regional suspects showed up, as offers came in from Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota and…wait for it…WISCONSIN.

Big shocker there, right?

I have joked through the years when was as part of the network that Bret Bielema, a former Hawkeye player and assistant coach under Kirk Ferentz, had a subscription to our site just so he could keep tabs on whom the Hawks were offering.

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The thing is, I guarantee they had a subscription to and…all staff’s do…Former Miami coach Larry Coker was notorious for offering scholarships based off of star rating system; he was fired.

At Iowa, it’s not about the stars, it’s about superior talent evaluation and then talent development.  More Iowa players were drafted this past April than any other Big Ten team.  Iowa has had 10 players drafted in the past two drafts and will probably have another 10 drafted in the next two drafts.

Stanford is sniffing around now, and USC and Oregon are too, for this 2nd team All State player from Nebraska.

How much of that is due to Iowa getting involved with him in January?

You won’t convince me that it’s purely a coincidence.  After all, football coaches know good talent evaluators when they see them, and they have a laundry list of how well Iowa has done in that department.

Perhaps Iowa needs to send them all a bill for due diligence services?

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