Bobby La Gesse/Land of 10
Defensive A.J. Epenesa, center of front row, signed his letter of intent with Iowa on Feb. 1.

Which other 2017 signee reminds Iowa of A.J. Epenesa, Iowa-Michigan recruiting part II 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. 9.


More than one Epenesa?

The Iowa staff is kind of in love with defensive end signee A.J. Epenesa, and rightfully so, since he is pretty much the ideal recruit for the program.

“A 5-star guy, he’s got a 2-star attitude,” said Iowa recruiting coordinator and assistant defensive line coach Kelvin Bell during Iowa’s online National Signing Day show on Feb. 1.

Iowa director of recruiting Tyler Barnes also made a similar remark to Landof10.com on signing day. Epenesa brings in the size and physical skill set any coach wants with the mental makeup the Hawkeyes desire.

But he may not be the only player with those traits in the 2017 class. When Barnes was asked about Epenesa’s unique qualities, he immediately started talking about one of Iowa’s newest wide receivers.

“Brandon Smith is kind of the same way,” Barnes said.

Like Epenesa, Smith comes in with a ready-made body college body, checking in at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds.

But the reason Barnes says he thinks Smith could be the offensive version of Epenesa is because of what happened during the final minutes of his home visit. Kirk Ferentz and Barnes were getting ready to leave with the head coach noticed an award sitting nearby.

Ferentz asked what it was for. Smith said it was an All-State trophy. Ferentz followed up with a question: “You have a few accolades don’t you?”

“Coach told me about them, but I don’t care,” Barnes remembers Smith saying.

Those final three words stuck with Barnes, and it is why he thinks of Smith when he hears Epenesa’s name.

“Some kids can’t wait to show off everything they have,” Barnes said. “It’s usually the kids that can get rid of ‘me’ and adopt that ‘we’ mentality, they typically have a chance to be really good.”


The Brandon Smith camp story

Smith strikes an imposing figure. Barnes described Smith (as well as Epenesa) as the kind of player a coach would have walk off the bus first to try to intimidate the opposition. It’s why he wasn’t surprised when Smith drew plenty of attention at a satellite camp that Barnes, Bell and linebackers coach Seth Wallace attended last year.

The other coaches drooled over Smith, and the scene worried Barnes.

“This kid is going to blow up,” he told his fellow Iowa coaches.

He was wrong, and it helped the Hawkeyes, who had offered Smith but were yet to land him.

“Thankfully, none of the big, big-time schools did (offer Smith),” Barnes said.

Some Southern schools did show interest late, Barnes said, but the Hawkeyes were able to hold onto Smith.


Iowa vs. Michigan recruiting Part II

So, it looks like Oliver Martin was just the start.

Michigan offered Dowling (Iowa) Catholic High School defensive end John Waggoner on Wednesday.

Iowa had already offered the 247Sports 3-star composite prospect.

The Wolverines and Hawkeyes squared off for the top in-state prospect in the 2017 class, with Michigan landing Martin, the Iowa City West High School wide receiver. Round 2 will be for Waggoner, one of the top Iowans in the 2018 class.

It will be interesting to see what other teams jump into Waggoner’s recruitment. Rare is the recruiting situation where only one blue-blood program comes in and offers a player.


Video of the day

It turns out there was no need to wonder if winter is coming (back) to Iowa City. It arrived on Wednesday morning with a dusting of snow. The mild (and for the most part snowless) winter kept the Kinnick Stadium grounds crew from using a new snow pusher. They got the chance to use it on Wednesday.


Lots of links

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