Ahmad Wagner by Getty Images / Photo illustration by Land of 10
Ahmad Wagner could leave Iowa City having sported two different Hawkeyes uniforms.

Former Iowa center James Daniels pushes for Ahmad Wagner to play football in Iowa City

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ANSWER: Iowa forward Ahmad Wagner decided to leave the basketball program last week and pursue a football career. Checking in at 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds, Wagner was a first-team Division I all-state wide receiver at Wayne (Ohio) High School in Huber Heights.

For many fans, Wagner played at a school in another state and racked up big numbers. But to former Iowa football center James Daniels — a likely first-round NFL draft pick and Warren, Ohio, native — Wagner dominated some of the Midwest’s best opponents in just one year of football.

“His film is good but if you realize the teams he’s playing against, how good those teams are, it just makes it even better,” Daniels said. “If I was the coach, I’d put him at X (split end), yeah.”

Wagner caught 58 passes for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns in his only season of high school football. In the 2014 Ohio Division I title game, Wagner hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass one-handed and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score. In a regular-season game that year, Wagner caught another one-handed touchdown on a hitch-and-go route up the sideline.

“He went viral on Twitter,” Daniels said. “I remember that in high school.”

Daniels was 4-star offensive linemen in northeast Ohio, while Wagner was competing in southwest Ohio. They never crossed paths in high school but they knew of one another. They both came to Iowa in the summer of 2015 and became fast friends. They both were on the Iowa Student Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) and Daniels constantly teased Wagner about changing sports.

“I would always make fun of him like, ‘Bro, come out for football. We could use you,” Daniels said. “When I saw on Instagram [Wagner left Iowa basketball], I was shocked. He always laughed at me about that. But when I saw that, I saw him [write] ‘I’m transferring’ then ‘to pursue my career in football.’ I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I texted him right away. ‘We could use you.'”

Wagner is considering many paths, from staying at Iowa to selecting a different school. He spoke with the Hawkeyes’ football coaching staff within a day of deciding to leave the basketball program. At Iowa, Wagner could play right away and play two seasons of football. At another FBS school, he would have to sit out for a year — barring a successful NCAA appeal.

With Iowa still light on experience at wide receiver, Wagner’s easiest path to playing without many logistical road blocks is to stay in town.

“He lives literally right down there, too,” said Daniels, who pointed east out of the football facility. “He could walk to the facility. If I was him, that’s what I’d do. But he has to weigh his options.”

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