IOWA CITY, Iowa – There is a misguided perception that Kirk Ferentz doesn’t try very hard to recruit dual-threat quarterbacks.
It never has been a top priority for him as the Iowa head coach, but Ferentz has recruited dual-threat quarterbacks on a somewhat regular basis since being hired shortly after the 1998 season.
From Brad Banks to Jason Manson to Jake Christensen, dual-threat quarterbacks have certainly played a role for the Hawkeyes under Ferentz.
And judging from some of Iowa’s latest scholarship offers, Ferentz still has an interest in recruiting dual-threat quarterbacks.
Iowa is the only school at this point to have offered a scholarship to dual-threat quarterback Kamron Fields, who is a junior at Lakeview Centennial High School in Garland, Texas.
Iowa is one of five schools to have offered a scholarship to Johnathan Lewis, a 6-3, 204-pound dual-threat quarterback from Jersey City, N.J.
The Hawkeyes also have offered a scholarship to four-star quarterback Kasim Hill, although the Washington D.C., native is considered more of a pro-style quarterback than a dual threat.
It seems clear that Ferentz is content with having a dual-threat quarterback run his offense if that is his best option. This isn’t a case of New Kirk taking over, but rather old Kirk sticking to his ways of recruiting.
Marvin McNutt had a chance to be a dual-threat quarterback at Iowa, but he fit better at receiver where he became a star for the Hawkeyes after switching from quarterback.
Drew Tate wasn’t a dual-threat quarterback during his time at Iowa from 2003-06, but was close to being one. Tate often used his legs to extend plays.
Current Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard also used his running ability to gain key yards this past season, while redshirt freshmen-to-be quarterbacks Ryan Boyle and Drew Cook both were effective runners in high school.
Iowa would’ve have had a dual-threat quarterback playing on a more regular basis if Manson had won the starting position during his career. Manson lettered at Iowa in 2005 and 2006, but played sparingly as a Hawkeye.
It was the same with Eric McCollom, who played quarterback and receiver at Iowa from 2003-06. McCollom was recruited as a dual-threat quarterback, but the South Carolina native switched to receiver at Iowa in order to get on the field sooner.
McCollom transferred to Division II Newberry College in South Carolina for his senior season in 2008. He switched back to quarterback at Newberry.
Christensen was classified as a dual-threat quarterback when he came to Iowa in 2005, but showed little resemblance of one as a Hawkeye. He struggled both as a runner and thrower and eventually lost his starting position to pro-style quarterback Ricky Stanzi in 2008.
The same aggressive approach that helped the Iowa coaches build their 2016 recruiting class is now being used for the 2017 class.
There is enough proof, including Iowa being the first school to offer Fields a scholarship, to say that about Ferentz’s staff.
The Hawkeyes also are the only school at this point to offer a scholarship to St. Louis all-purpose running back Andrew Clair.
He and Fields will collect more offers over time, but Iowa always will be their first offer. That might not be enough to seal the deal in either case, but it always helps being the first school to offer a scholarship.
It shows the Iowa coaches still are being aggressive, much like they were in building the 2016 recruiting class.
All but two of the 24 players in Iowa’s 2016 recruiting class committed to the Hawkeyes before the start of the 2015 season.
There wasn’t’ time for Iowa’s success from this past season to have much effect on the 2016 class, although, finishing 12-2 and playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years probably helped keep some of the players committed.
The circumstances are different for the 2017 class, which currently has five players committed, including five-star defensive end A.J. Epenesa from Edwardsville, Ill.
Iowa is relevant again under Ferentz, and some of the top players in the 2017 class are intrigued by the sudden turnaround.
Texas four-star running back Eno Benjamin said recently that he currently favors Iowa. The Hawkeyes were in on him early and Benjamin likes what he is hearing out of Iowa City.
Closing the deal won’t be easy, though, as Benjamin’s list of scholarship offers continues to grow. Michigan was among the latest to offer Benjamin a scholarship on Tuesday.
And who knows to what extreme Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh would go to in order to sign him.