IOWA CITY, Iowa — Every day, Tyler Barnes walked past the offices of Kirk Ferentz or Ken O’Keefe.
Every day, Barnes said the same thing to the Iowa head coach or quarterbacks coach. We need a signal caller in 2017.
Every day, they said the same thing. Patience.
In the end, it paid off. The Hawkeyes didn’t land a quarterback until December. But they landed Spencer Petras, arguably the most talented signal caller Iowa pursued throughout the 2018 cycle.
Barnes learned a lesson from that experience — a lesson the Hawkeyes are now applying to round out the Class of 2018 and one to which fans will need to pay attention during a slow-moving lead-up to signing day.
“Be patient and don’t rush to do something because when you reach, you miss,” the Iowa scouting director told Land of 10 in December.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) December 20, 2017
Patience is key.
For Iowa, that’s a recruiting motto. The Hawkeyes are certainly relying on it now, when late January seems as quiet as a dead period. It’s an unusual atmosphere during what is normally a hectic final push toward National Signing Day in February.
But this January is different thanks to the early signing period. Seventeen of the 19 players committed to Iowa’s Class of 2018 at the time signed in December. The Hawkeyes held a few scholarships back on purpose, but by the time the January recruiting period rolled around their recruiting board was essentially down to two players.
Iowa offered 3-star Georgia linebacker Jayden McDonald in December after he failed to sign with Rutgers earlier in the month. The Hawkeyes then visited 3-star Florida linebacker James Miller last Tuesday, rekindling a relationship that started with an offer last January.
Both took official visits last weekend — the only recruits with scholarship offers to visit in January. As of now, there are no known visitors for this upcoming weekend.
Neither is a lock to pick Iowa. McDonald also recently visited Kansas State and Purdue. He is visiting Mississippi this weekend and will announce his decision on Monday.
Miller picked up a Florida State offer last week and is taking an official visit there this weekend.
Despite all of this, Iowa isn’t doing much.
It’s being patient.
Why? The Hawkeyes likely like their position. When the staff believes it has a strong connection with a recruit and their family they’ll play things out. Their confidence is often rewarded (see defensive back Dallas Craddieth in December and wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette last February).
— Dallas Craddieth™ (@D_Cradd5) December 20, 2017
“We kind of told ourselves we had a really good relationship with him and his family,” Barnes said when Smith-Marsette signed. “We knew this was where the kid ultimately wanted to be. It was just a matter of let’s give him a day to decompress and let’s get right back at it and I’m glad we did and I know our staff is, too.
“Sometimes you got to ride those waves in recruiting. You never know how it’s going to play out exactly, but guys that fit everything we are about and had a really good connection with … guys like Ihmir. They are worth going after like that.”
Now, the ride it out philosophy doesn’t always work. Linebacker Thomas Johnston picked UAB over Iowa last January. That’s why the Hawkeyes don’t throw all of their eggs into one recruiting basket and pray it works out.
Patience is one recruiting mantra. Preparation is another. The Hawkeyes are like the Boy Scouts. They’re ready for any situation.
“You always do your best to have your next list up,” Barnes said. “I think over the course of Coach Ferentz’s career we’ve shown we’ve been pretty good with those guys. Two that come to light are Josey Jewell and Akrum Wadley.
“Realistically, those second tier guys, ‘B-list’ guys, whatever you want to call them, they were on our list all year long and we know about them. It’s a matter of how we get to them and there are different reasons why we get to them, too.”
In-state offensive lineman Trey Winters is a potential next man up. He took an official visit on Monday. He could end up with an offer if McDonald or Miller goes elsewhere.
— Trey Winters (@treywinters99) January 30, 2018
If forced, Iowa is always ready to move in a different direction. Sometimes, these late January or early February prospects turn into stars, like Jewel and Wadley.
One trait ties all of these recruitments together. Patience.
The Hawkeyes are exhibiting it again. It already worked at quarterback this cycle. Time will tell if it works again with McDonald and Miller.