Bobby La Gesse/Land of 10
Iowa running back signee Ivory Kelly-Martin

Why Nazareth Academy helped lead Ivory Kelly-Martin to Iowa, a look at recruiting targets in Rivals’ new rankings and more

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

So let’s get to it. Here is the Iowa Breakfast Club for Wednesday, March 1.

Why attending Nazareth Academy led Kelly-Martin to Iowa

Iowa running back signee Ivory Kelly-Martin transferred from Nazareth Academy (Ill.) following his junior football season. He didn’t leave on bad terms, he just wanted to come back home and play with his friends at Oswego (Ill.) East High School.

But one thing he’ll never forget about his time at Nazareth was the feeling of community at the Catholic school.

“The size of the school wasn’t too big and basically if you went to that school you knew everybody,” Kelly-Martin said.

“That allowed the family aspect into things, especially with the football team. You weren’t seen as freshman or sophomore. You were just on the team.”

He left the Roadrunners, but he always wanted to return to that type of environment. He thought he thrived in such a situation — and indeed, he did win two state titles and rush for 2,036 yards and 36 in his final season at the 802-student school.

Sp when he began his college-recruiting process he kept Nazareth in the back of his mind. He found a familiar feeling at with Iowa. Kelly-Martin liked the culture coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff fostered. He hit it off with the players. And that’s why committing to the Hawkeyes was a no-brainer last April.

“I really believe that a family aspect brings a team closer together and allows everyone to play with more emotion during the game and they aren’t going to dismiss anything if things go wrong,” Kelly-Martin said.

If Kelly-Martin doesn’t spend his first three years of high school at Nazareth he might not be spending his next four or five years at Iowa.

Passing on passing on the baton

Kelly-Martin is a heck of a track competitor. He ran the 100- and 200-meter dashes for Oswego East after transferring last spring. Kelly-Martin took part in the 400-meter relay, too.

“He could be a state qualifier,” Oswego East football and track coach Tyson LeBlanc said.

But he won’t.

Kelly-Martin won’t run track this spring. Instead, he’s getting a jump-start on preparing for college football.

“I am doing what I love most right now,” Kelly-Martin said. “I’m just training for football. Of course I am going to feel bad for some of the guys on missing out on me running track, but I’ll get to see them everyday.”

He trains with EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park. Kelly-Martin goes through a college football prep regiment at the academy, which also works out professional football, baseball and basketball players.

“He is getting the best training and preparation going into college,” his father Jamar Kelly said.

New Rivals rankings and Iowa

Rivals released updated recruiting rankings for the Class of 2018. One of the biggest movers was Iowa 4-star LB recruit Ayodele Adeoye. The St. Louis Ritenour star jumped to No. 245 nationally by impressing the Rivals staff with his explosiveness, closing speed and anticipation skills.

Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi and LSU are also recruiting Adeoye.

Also, Blair Sanderson of Rivals put together a nifty reference guide of the national top 250 players to receive an Iowa offer. The Hawkeyes have currently offered 10 top 100 players and 28 top 250 players. Six of those players have already committed elsewhere.

Birthday wishes

Tuesday was former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry’s birthday. The Hawkeyes commemorated the occasion on social media.

Lots of links

  • Why Kelly-Martin returned home to play his final high school football season in his backyard.
  • Jeremiah Davis, of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, hands out Iowa men’s basketball grades for the last week.
  • Sammy Brooks is entering a loaded 184-pound bracket at the Big Ten wrestling championships, writes the Des Moines Register’s Chad Leistikow.