IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa’s 12-win regular season in 2015 helped the football program secure a foothold in Texas recruiting.
Now the question is, can the Hawkeyes keep it?
Running back Eno Benjamin, a Rivals’ 4-star recruit, publicly decommitted from the Hawkeyes via Twitter on Sunday night. Cornerback Chevin Calloway, also a Rivals’ 4-star, officially remains committed but has taken swipes at Iowa’s coaching staff for a lack of communication. Whether or not he remains an Iowa recruit is undetermined after he unpinned his Twitter commitment status Monday afternoon.
While he was committed, Benjamin took a pair of visits to Missouri and Arizona State, according to Hawkeye Nation’s Rob Howe. Iowa has a strict policy of not allowing commitments to visit other campuses, which coach Kirk Ferentz addressed last week.
“Policies are policies. You can break policies,” Ferentz said. “There’s no penalty. But rules are rules. The rules don’t forbid that, so there’s no … but we can have policies.”
I am officially opening up my recruitment!
Thank you & God Bless?? pic.twitter.com/Q3qILK12ni
— EB5™ (@eno_benjamin5) October 23, 2016
that's not up to me. https://t.co/R4iZxCHbeT
— EB5™ (@eno_benjamin5) October 24, 2016
Despite the recent drama, Iowa’s coaching staff continues to receive positive feedback from Texas coaches and recruits. Along with Calloway, Iowa has four other Texas commits for the class of 2017. They include wide receiver Gavin Holmes (Justin Northwest), cornerback Matt Hankins (Flower Mound Marcus), wide receiver Beau Corrales (Georgetown) and quarterback Peyton Mansell (Belton).
Two Iowa coaches make the Dallas-Fort Worth area part of their recruiting region — wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy and tight ends coach LeVar Woods. Both have built or maintained relationships in the region, which has helped them gain recruits.
“(Kennedy is) one of the good ones out there,” said Flower Mound Marcus head coach Gerry Stanford, who coaches Hankins. “He’s very thorough in his process in looking for kids and really has a good idea of what he’s looking for and what would fit at Iowa. We had a really good conversation, and he’s one of the best recruiters there is in college football. I thought it was a good fit.”
IOWA’S CURRENT TEXAS RECRUITS
|Chevin Calloway||Cornerback||Dallas Bishop Dunne||4|
|Gavin Holmes||Wide receiver||Justin Northwest||3|
|Matt Hankins||Cornerback||Flower Mound Marcus||3|
|Beau Corrales||Wide receiver||Georgetown||2|
At times, the Hawkeyes had a tepid recruiting presence in Texas. In 2009, only two players on Iowa’s roster were Texans and neither were starters. Two of Iowa’s former assistants shared Dallas as a recruiting area but both were more active in other parts of the country.
Iowa has targeted Texas more in recent years with its Texas ties on staff. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis is a Texas native. He and Kennedy worked together at the University of Texas from 2004 through 2010. Woods, a former Iowa player, was elevated from administrative assistant to assistant coach in 2012 and since has made Dallas a priority on his recruiting turf.
“It’s definitely been a four-year process for me personally,” Woods said in August. “I think the respect is mutual. I think they know what I’m about. I know what they’re about so if they tell me about a player, I can trust them. Some of those guys have been up here on campus and see how we do things. I think that definitely helps. That’s what recruiting is. It comes down to relationships. Relationship with the player, relationship with the family, relationship with the coach.”
Iowa’s 12-win season last year helped gain recruits’ attention. The program’s new $55 million performance center helped them keep it. The football program hosted several camps and non-official visits this summer with several players from Texas as attendees.
“I think kids from Dallas when they get here on campus and they see what Iowa City’s like, they see what the fans are like, they see what kind of interest is here,” Woods said. “Once you get around our program, the facility definitely helps. People don’t know enough about Iowa for it to be high on their list initially. Once they get on campus, the switch gets flipped there.
“A lot of those guys are very similar. Some of the makeup and the traits and the kind of people are similar to people here in Iowa. Once they get here, they realize it’s very similar to Dallas. It’s not nearly as big and all that, but there are more similarities than there are differences.”
IS IT WORTH IT?
Iowa’s recent success with Texas recruits should give the program pause. Since 2012, Iowa has signed nine players from Texas and produced just one starter, true sophomore wide receiver Jerminic Smith. Only two others see action in special teams or other situations. Three players have transferred and another quit football in August to join the track team.
But there’s no denying the overall talent pool in Texas. Rivals rates 44 players as 4-star or better. Calloway ranks 10th on that list. Holmes, Hankins and Mansell rank 90th, 92nd and 95th, respectively, on that list. Benjamin is 12th.
While the Texas recruiting scene has been filled with ups and downs for Iowa, the potential always outranks the concern.
|Class||Player||Position||Location||Rivals’ stars||Current status|
|2012||Anthony Gair||Safety||Plano||3||Second-team safety|
|2014||Mick Ellis||Kicker||Allen||2||Third-team kicker|
|2014||Joshua Jackson||Cornerback||Corinth||2||Second-team cornerback|
|2015||Angelo Garbutt||Linebacker||Carrollton||3||Third-team linebacker|
|2015||Justin Jinning||Linebacker||The Colony||2||Transferred|
|2015||Emmanuel Ogwo||Receiver||Mesquite||3||Left for track team|
|2015||Jerminic Smith||Receiver||Garland||3||Starting wide receiver|