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Iowa says it never was too worried about not landing Hawkeyes signee Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Why Iowa always thought it would land Ihmir Smith-Marsette, a signing day roundup and more

The best way to start your day is right here at Landof10.com as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Hawkeyes Wake-Up Call here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

So let’s get to it. Here is your Wake-Up Call for Thursday, Feb. 2.


The commitment only Iowa saw coming

Ihmir Smith-Marsette left his official visit two weekends ago without committing. Iowa still held faith.

Smith-Marsette took an official visit to Minnesota this past weekend. Iowa still held faith.

Smith-Marsette committed to the Golden Gophers on Sunday. Iowa still held faith.

On National Signing Day, the Hawkeyes’ faith was rewarded. Iowa landed the 3-star New Jersey wide receiver on National Signing Day — a signing day surprise to everyone but those in the football office.

“I can’t say we were 100-percent confident we were going to win in the end,” Iowa director of scouting Tyler Barnes said, “but we felt good about it.”

Barnes couldn’t see the future, but he read the situation. Specifically, Smith-Marsette’s reaction during his time in Iowa City.

“We know and felt the kid thoroughly enjoyed his visit here and felt at home,” Barnes said. “If he didn’t feel that way maybe we didn’t pursue him the way we did, but kind of knowing we had that connection and where he was it kind of made the decision easier for us.”

The Hawkeyes weren’t thrilled when Smith-Marsette headed to Minnesota. They had a pretty good idea of what would come next once he landed in the Twin Cities.

No, the Hawkeyes weren’t surprised when he committed to the Gophers, but they decided to stay after him. The staff felt a strong bond with the family and player. There was the official visit, too.

“It was just a matter of let’s give him a day to decompress and let’s get right back at it” Barnes said.

So Iowa made one more push. By Tuesday night, Smith-Marsette de-committed and his recruiting came down to Iowa and Rutgers.

When he signed his National Letter of Intent, it went to the Hawkeyes.

“Sometimes you got to ride those waves in recruiting,” Barnes said. “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 and guys like Ihmir. They are worth going after like that.”


Iowa’s other signing day surprise

Smith-Marsette wasn’t the only last-minute signature the Hawkeyes secured. Two-star Kenosha (Wis.) DE Daviyon Nixon also signed on Wednesday.

Nixon’s name wasn’t connected with Iowa in the recruiting world until recently, but head coach Kirk Ferentz said the Hawkeyes were aware of him for a while.

“I don’t know when it surfaced but we’ve been working him hard and there are circumstances and all that kind of stuff,” Ferentz said, “but I got up there I think last Wednesday (Jan. 25) and had a chance to meet him and his family and that pushed it over the top for us.”

The Hawkeyes didn’t offer Nixon until Ferentz visited. It can be tough for a player to sit in limbo, not sure if the scholarship will ever come, but Ferentz said the Hawkeyes want to be as honest with recruits as possible in that situation.

“We try to let them know what we’re thinking all along and what our process will be and they make the choice to stay with us or get off the train, that type of deal,” Ferentz said. “We have always tried to be direct and straightforward with people and I think that’s the best way to deal. It’s up to them to decide what they want to do with the decision.”


Ferentz’s take on Oliver Martin

The Hawkeyes couldn’t keep local product Oliver Martin from leaving the state. The Iowa City West wide receiver signed with Michigan on Wednesday.

Ferentz thought Iowa was in it until the end with the 4-star recruit, and added he doesn’t have any regrets about how Iowa went after Martin.

“The thing about the recruiting, it’s up to the individual and I tell every prospect, first of all scholarships aren’t given, they are earned,” Ferentz said. “And with that comes the right for the prospect to — he’s earned the right to make the decision that’s best for him.

“So for me to tell a prospect to act like I know what’s best for them, I think that’s probably off-center. That would really be presumptuous on my part. We don’t do that, but we try to present our school and the program as well as we can and players have to make that choice from there.”


Where do you want to play?

Iowa listed signee Trey Creamer as an athlete on its signing day release. Creamer was considered a cornerback throughout his recruiting process, but also played running back for Cartersville (Ga.) High.

The Hawkeyes haven’t decided where they’ll play him yet. Don’t expect a decision to be made soon — or without Creamer’s input.

“That’s one we will let it play out when he gets here and he’ll have a vote on that one,” Ferentz said.


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