February 6, 2013
Signing Day Awards: Offense
The theme for Iowa's recruiting efforts on the offensive side of the ball was a need for speed. They appear to have filled those needs on paper with the signing of five fast wide receivers. We hand out our signing day awards on the offensive side with the best prospect, most likely to play early, and one receiver that got away late in the process.
BEST PROSPECT: Jon Wisnieski - TE - West Des Moines Dowling - According to the Rivals.com rankings, he's one of the highest rated prospects on the offensive side of the football. At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Wisnieski has the frame which will allow him to fill out in the next year or two and be a very effective tight end for the Hawkeyes. While his prep numbers don't wow you, he is a has good hands and decent speed. One other key trait that Wisnieski has is that he isn't afraid to engage as a blocker, which is very important in the Iowa offense.
SLEEPER: Ike Boettger - TE- Cedar Falls HS - One of Iowa's camp discoveries during the summer and these types of guys usually work out pretty well for the Hawkeyes. Boettger is a very good athlete and that jumps out at you on film. He played quarterback as a junior for Cedar Falls and is also having a good senior season on the basketball court. While guys like Barkley Hill and Ross Pierschbacher have grabbed more of the headlines, Boettger may turn out to be a real sleeper for the Hawkeyes in a couple of years.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: LeShun Daniels - RB - Harding HS - Boston College's loss is Iowa's gain. Daniels had been committed to the Eagles since June, but once they fired their head coach the Hawkeyes made their move on the 5-foot-11 and 220 pound back. Iowa has had great success with big backs who run with power and Daniels film says he's that type of runner. As a senior he rushed for 1,614 yards and 15 touchdowns. While the backfield may seem crowded on paper, it's the Iowa running back position, so at some point, opportunity always seems to knock.
MOST LIKELY TO PLAY EARLY: Damond Powell - WR - Snow Junior College - The Hawkeyes dipped into the junior college ranks and found a receiver who they expect will have an immediate impact in 2013. Powell lacks size, but he has top end speed and seems to be best suited as a guy to handle the tunnel screen. He can also make big plays down the field and that's shown by his 30 yard per reception average this past season. As a sophomore at Snow JUCO, he had 41 receptions for 1,231 yards and 14 touchdowns.
BIGGEST STEAL: Derrick Mitchell Jr. - WR- Vashon HS - The St. Louis prep standout did a little bit of everything for his high school team as a senior. Basically, they got the ball in his hands and he makes plays. Iowa needs playmakers and Mitchell fits the bill. He threw for nearly 500 yards, ran for over 700 yards, and had nearly 400 yards receiving. He also had 21 touchdowns this past year. Iowa locked into Mitchell early on in the process and got a commitment from him in late June. Mitchell recently scored 47 points in a basketball game. He's a quick athletic player and may turn out to be a real steal in this class.
FORGOTTEN MAN: Derrick Willies - WR - Rock Island HS - When you commit early on in the process, you tend to get lost in the shuffle. Couple that with the fact that Willies has basically gone into hiding when it comes to media interviews since the summer and fans seem to forget about you. Willies shouldn't be forgotten. He has ideal size at 6-foot-3 and a strong frame that is now up to nearly 200 pounds. He is a state champion in sprint hurdles, which tells you all you need to know about his athletic ability. Willies is still pretty raw as a receiver, but he has the one thing that Iowa needs offensively and that's speed and athletic ability.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Brian Lemelle - WR - The all time leading receiver in Pennsylvania high school history was down to Iowa, UCONN, and Temple. He made his official visit to Iowa in January and given the need for speed and receivers in Iowa City, it seemed like a good match. But, Lemelle opted to stay closer to home and will be signing with UCONN.
RECRUITER OF THE YEAR: Brian Ferentz - The Hawkeye offensive line coach hit the ground running in his first full season as a recruiter. He pulled four prep players out of the always competitive state of Ohio and once receivers coach Erik Campbell left, he picked up and saved Iowa's recruitment of Damond Powell. Ferentz has also been key in the recruitment of offensive lineman Colin Goebel and he helped Iowa pick up an early verbal commitment from Ross Pireschbacher, one of the top offensive linemen in the Midwest.
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