IOWA CITY, Iowa – In April, Seth Wallace showed no panic. Despite Iowa sitting with only two verbal commitments in its 2016 recruiting class, the coordinator remained confident in how the Hawkeyes were doing business.
Another month or so clicked off the calendar. Iowa still was stuck at pledges from Nate Stanley and Toren Young, who jumped in around the New Year. Then, the situation reversed field in a big way.
Detroit East English Village High teammates Cedrick Lattimore and Chauncey Golston broke the drought when they pledged to Iowa on an unofficial visit May 18. By the end of June, the Hawkeyes had hauled in 20 total verbals and the number rose to 22 with its most recent acquisition, Illinois athlete Emmanuel Rugamba on Aug. 1.
Wallace certainly is in a position to say "I told you so" but he’s not doing it. Instead, he’s going out of his way to share the credit.
"I don’t think we really predicted it," he said at the team’s annual media day here on Saturday. "We changed up a few things but there are a lot of folks involved in this deal. Everybody was on the same page.
"We were putting forth the effort in the right direction and being a little more aggressive, as I talked about before, but to say that we predicted that to happen, no. It just added up right."
Wallace pointed to good timing as a main reason the recruits fell into place. The Hawkeyes benefitted from prospect tailgates where a group of athletes and their families visit campus. Many of the pledges sprung out of those weekends.
"The guys that have committed to us have been on campus and I would say 95 percent of their families have been on campus. They’re seeing a beautiful facility. Our players were highly involved in those visits, which paid off on our end," he said.
Wallace returned to the Iowa staff last spring to replace Eric Johnson. Wallace served as a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes from 2006-08.
Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz has allowed Wallace much latitude in guiding changes in the team’s pursuit of prospects. A school long known for being deliberate with offers has handed out around 200 opportunities in the ’16 cycle.
"We don’t really keep count of offers. They may go out one day and then the next day you find out that you’re not in the game. The kid’s got other plans. He’s got other ideas. But to say we were a little more aggressive on the front end where that led us where we’re at in June with the flurry (is accurate)," Wallace said.
With an unprecedented amount of commitments in the summer, the challenge now becomes keeping a large group onboard until signing day in February.
"First and foremost, you’re happy that you like them and they like you. So, it’s kind of like in any relationship, you try not to rock the boat, I guess," Wallace said with a smile. "Don’t do anything that’s going to upset them, make sure you continue to recruit them, which we will do.
"You can’t take it for granted because these guys are going to get re-recruited. That’s the name of the game now. We’ve seen it and it will continue to happen that there’s someone we like there’s other folks that can turn on the tape and they’re going to like him, too. We feel like they’re really going to be liked in the coming fall because we feel like they’re good players. We feel like, in some cases, they may have been a little bit below the radar."
Theoretically, Iowa can add three more prospects in the ’16 cycle. It also may have to replace current commits who back out and head elsewhere. That makes the final six months before signing day an inexact science.
Adding to that equation are the athletes who are being under recruited who emerge as seniors. With the process continually speeding up and many Power 5 schools having a similar number of pledges as Iowa, those kids are positioning themselves for a limited number of openings.
"We’ve always found those types of guys. We just have to continue to be aware of that," Wallace said.
Then there are the players who are taking their time with the process and have Iowa in the mix. Matt Farniok, Jovan Swann and Noah Fant are among a small group of guys who like the Hawkeyes and are high on their board. How the ’15 season goes could impact where they end up.
"We’ve got a handful of guys we really, really like and we want them at Iowa. If they want to come here, we’ll shake their hand and welcome them here. We’ll see how it all plays out," said Wallace, who can’t speak specifically on any players until they sign national letters of intent.
Wallace said he anticipates a continued aggressive approach moving forward with other recruiting class. He and the recruiting staff continue to look for innovative ways to reach prospects in an ever-growing aspect of the game, he said.
CLASS OF 2016 Verbals (Click on name for profile with game film & other offers)