IOWA CITY, Iowa — Shortly after noon on Feb. 2, the call Logan Klemp waited a lifetime for arrived.
Iowa offered him a scholarship. He needed all of 1 second to commit.
On the same day, Iowa’s under-the-radar recruitment of Kaevon Merriweather finally became public when he, too, committed to the Hawkeyes.
Theirs were the only two 2018 offers of the final evaluation period. They committed within hours of each other and helped the Hawkeyes round out their best recruiting class in seven years. Klemp, the 3-star in-state linebacker, and Merriweather, the 2-star safety, are tied together in Iowa recruiting history.
Yet, their recruitments couldn’t be any more different.
Finding Kaevon Merriweather
Merriweather started the school year as a basketball prospect, with offers from Western Michigan and Ferris State. He was an unknown on the football recruiting trail.
He transferred to Belleville High School (Mich.) in the summer. His new football coach, Jermain Crowell, liked Merriweather’s 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame and athleticism. He showed a strong football IQ, physical nature and an ability to attack the football during a preseason scrimmage.
He previously played linebacker and defensive end. It took a few weeks for Merriweather to come along at safety, playing a secondary with three other Division I prospects.
By midseason, Crowell saw enough progress to believe Merriweather was his fourth Division I defensive back.
“Had he been playing football for five years as consistently as he was playing basketball, he would be a 4- or 5-star kid,” Crowell said. “He has that kind of athletic ability. He is just missing the reps and I think if he ends up being good on those reps, he’ll end up being a player.”
Merriweather’s grades are outstanding and Crowell raves about his character. He describes Merriweather as a team-first player. Those traits, and his untapped potential, led Crowell to call Iowa defensive backs coach Phil Parker in October.
Their relationship goes back years, and when Crowell brought up a defensive back worth monitoring, the Iowa staff took notice.
“We have a real good relationship with coach Crowell,” Iowa recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell said. “He was the one who (years ago) talked about this kid on the east side of Detroit, Desmond King, like, ‘Hey, you got to go check this kid out.”
Identifying Logan Klemp
Playing for the Hawkeyes was Klemp’s dream growing up in Jewell, a small town in north central Iowa. Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan first reached out last April.
Klemp attended an Iowa camp in June. It was the recruiting equivalent of a job interview. Perform well and the recruitment may pick up. Klemp did, the sides continued to speak. He connected with linebackers coach Seth Wallace in the process
“We formed a bond over camp, so to speak,” Klemp said. “I think that is what really helped. It showed him we can really work together and there is something possible here.”
The Hawkeyes liked Klemp. He fit their recruiting profile. He was a multi-sport athlete, also playing basketball and track. He played both ways in football at South Hamilton High School, seeing time at wide receiver and running back. They felt his personality meshed with the culture of the program, too.
But there was one problem. Iowa extended offers to other linebackers and needed to see how things played out there before offering Klemp.
“We always kept in contact with him because we knew this was a kid that we wanted on our football team,” Bell said. “If we were fortunate enough to get him to walk on, that’s a great win and if not, if a spot opened up where we could have one available, this is a kid we are going to want, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Iowa wanted to bring in at least three linebackers in 2018. Dillon Doyle committed last March. Ben VanSumeren committed last November, but de-committed in December.
With the December signing period nearing, and Iowa in need of at least two linebackers, Klemp decided to push. He held offers from several FCS programs, but wanted to wait and see if an offer from the Hawkeyes materialized.
“He waited it out and knew it could cost him some other situations, but he wasn’t ready to give up on that possibility,” said his father Corey Klemp, South Hamilton’s football coach.
The quiet recruitment of Merriweather
The Hawkeyes liked Merriweather right away. Specifically, they liked his build. They are always on the lookout for a 6-1 or 6-2, 195-plus defender.
“We want the body type because if you look at the way the game has been played right now, it’s not tight formations where everyone is blocking and there are neck rolls and things like that,” Bell said. “You want guys who are good in space. Who is better than a point guard? That is what they do.”
The biggest question involved scholarship availability. The Hawkeyes didn’t know if one was available after reviewing their recruiting board and positional needs.
They didn’t want to offer him and then run out of room in the class. They also didn’t want other programs realizing Merriweather’s potential and swooping in and signing him.
That’s why Iowa played his situation so tight to the vest.
“With the way recruiting is right now, if you had extended something not necessarily knowing if you were going to get the kid, all the other flies are going to come and it’s going to be a waste of time,” Bell said.
Merriweather visited Iowa the week before National Signing Day. With a few scholarships left open, and Merriweather left on their recruiting board, the Hawkeyes finally offered on Feb. 2. Iowa fans first learned about his recruitment when he tweeted his commitment that day.
Blessed to receive an offer and be committed to the University of Iowa🐤 pic.twitter.com/kcyoLSP50F
— Kaevon M. (@Kaevon02) February 3, 2018
Iowa views him as its quintessential developmental player. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz believes Merriweather is more of a basketball prospect than football prospect at this point. Crowell disagrees.
“I thought he had more opportunity in football than basketball,” Crowell said. “There are just more scholarships in football than basketball. A 6-2 guy in football that can run and jump is a little more unique than it is in basketball. That is a little guy in basketball.”
Decision day for Klemp
Klemp’s contact with the Iowa staff increased in December and January, but other players became top priorities at the position. Also, South Dakota 2-star linebacker Seth Benson signed at the end of the December signing period.
Klemp didn’t worry too much. He always believed an offer was coming.
“I felt pretty confident knowing how they felt about me as a football player and a person,” Klemp said.
A week before National Signing Day, Ferentz and Morgan visited Klemp at his high school. The coaches said they would have an answer for him about a scholarship by the end of the week.
The deadline was two days later on Feb. 2. He was still confident, but his family knew the situation was stressing him out.
“He is one that doesn’t let it show if something is bothering him or not,” Corey Klemp said. “He is just that way, but you can tell. You can see it was weighing on him as it got closer.”
Iowa still needed a linebacker on Feb. 2 and it wasn’t a lock any of their other linebacker options would commit.
Come February, Bell said Iowa factored in Klemp’s desire to play in extending the offer. It was also why he committed on the spot.
“It was a real surreal moment for me,” Klemp said. “It was a lot of hard work and time put in through workouts and everything like that. It was an amazing feeling.”
— Logan Klemp (@LoganKlemp) February 2, 2018