IOWA CITY, Iowa — Last week, a text came from his Ames High School (Iowa) coach. An Iowa coach was coming to visit Joe Evans.
Evans met with linebackers coach Seth Wallace and the two discussed his future as the position. On Wednesday, defensive line coach Reese Morgan stopped by. He chatted with Evans to finalize details for his campus visit this weekend.
“It all happened so fast,” Evans told Land of 10.
It didn’t take long the Hawkeyes long to go from filling out nearly all of its Class of 2018 in December to focusing on the bottom of its roster. Evans is one of at least seven visitors this weekend. They were first reported by Blair Sanderson of Rivals.
|Jordan Hook||OL/DL||Grundy Center|
|Mitchell Riggs||LB||Dowling Catholic|
|Mike Timm||LB||Kettle Moraine (Wis.)|
Each is a potential preferred walk-on with some, like Evans, holding out hope for a scholarship.
The lengths Iowa is going for its preferred walk-ons, hosting a visit weekend composed primarily of these players, shows the importance the Hawkeyes place on them.
The Hawkeyes are a lot like top-end NFL teams. They value their final roster spots and in this case it’s the preferred walk-ons.
Vegas won’t take odds on if coach Kirk Ferentz mentions Dallas Clark and his rise from walk-on to Mackey Award winner to NFL star tight end. The real question is how many times Ferentz will mention him.
Iowa is quick to bring up its walk-on tradition. Last year alone, former walk-ons contributing were wide receiver Nick Easley, linebacker Bo Bower and safety Jake Gervase.
If a walk-on proves his worth, the Hawkeyes will throw him on the field. If he does it long enough, they’ll give him a scholarship. Easley, who picked up a scholarship for the spring semester, is the latest example.
“We reward walk-ons here maybe more than any other program in the country,” Iowa director of scouting Tyler Barnes told Land of 10 in December. “I think we are a little bit lucky there too.”
Selling a program to walks-on on the recruiting trail is one thing. Everyone does it, but the Hawkeyes are catering to them, and really only them, this weekend. That’s unheard of.
Now, it’s a by-product of the new recruiting calendar. It would never happen in December or in January in years past.
If a top scholarship target needed to visit this weekend he would, but he didn’t (read linebacker Jayden McDonald didn’t) and it opens the door for something like this.
The players visiting this weekend are some of the final names on the recruiting board. If they’re lucky, one will end up with a scholarship offer late in the process, a lot like how linebacker Nate Wieland did last year.
Evans hopes he’s one of them.
“To be honest, I’m going to learn more about my situation when I’m there,” Evans said. “I think I’ll for sure know more by Saturday when I talk to the coaches.”
These are the types of players Iowa leans on to go from late-blooming prospect to key cog in the program. A lot end up like Gervase or Bower, a lucky few become a star like Josey Jewell, a kid from Decorah, Iowa, offered days before signing day in 2013. He only turned into a consensus All-American.
The payoff is huge with these potential walk-ons/players claiming the final scholarship. It might help explain why Iowa is devoting a whole weekend to these guys.