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Archive for February, 2008

Two more former Hawks find homes

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Someone else is going to take a chance on former Iowa running back Dana Brown, who was kicked off the team in October after being arrested for domestic assault. Brown has landed at Youngstown State University, where he’ll be a junior next season for the Football Championship Subdivision program. The Penguins open the 2008 season at Ohio State.

The 5-10, 203-pound Brown played in two games for the Hawkeyes, totaling 16 yards on four carries and scoring a touchdown. He might have figured into the mix next fall as Iowa returns only one scholarship running back off last year’s team. But Brown was arrested twice over the summer for shoplifting and then again midseason for allegedly abusing his girlfriend. He was kicked off the team the next day.

Also, Adam Farnsworth, a walk-on quarterback at Iowa the past two seasons has transferred to Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. He’ll have two years of eligibilty remaining. He left Iowa in good standing. 

Douglas, Everson, Satterfield surface

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Former Iowa football players Dominique Douglas, Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield, who left Iowa at semester for varying reasons, all recently surfaced in one way or another.

Everson, a freshman cornerback from Detroit who was suspended midseason and was implicated in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault on campus, has transferred to Alcorn State. He was listed on the school’s spring signing list as a mid-year signee. He’ll be able to play right away next fall. His coach, Ernest Jones, is a Michigan native and former Cincinnati assistant. Cincinnati, of course, recruited Everson hard out of high school. I imagine Everson will have a solid career at the FCS level, and we’ll hear more from him in the future.

Satterfield, an Erie, Pa., native who was suspended along with Everson and also was implicated in the sexual assault investigation, has landed at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he’ll play for former Illinois coach Lou Tepper

Apparently, the Iowa coaching staff vouched for Satterfield when talking with Tepper.

“I said, ‘Would you take him back if you could?’ Tepper told the Indiana Gazette. “And they said, ‘Absolutely.’ They told me that he might have started for them next year at corner. They were all high on him. He seems like a great kid.”

Hmmm … what does that tell you about Satterfield’s decision to transfer, which I think we all assumed at the time was strongly encouraged if not demanded by the coaching staff? The fact that Tepper asked, “Would you take him back if you could?” and they said, “Absolutely” … that either means the decision to leave was totally Satterfield’s or that his dismissal was based on public perception. Did the coaching staff want to keep Satterfield around but couldn’t because his name had been mentioned in the same sentence as rape and with the year they’ve had it would have been a PR nightmare? Or did Satterfield leave town because he had already been found guilty in the court of public opinion? It’s interesting …

Oh, and Dominique Douglas, the most talented of the three who apparently has yet to find a team to play for in the future, has put out another batch of photos on his Facebook site. They look somewhat suspicious. You be the judge.

 douglas-cash.jpg

Yeah … there’s got to be at least $10,000 there. That aint Pell Grant money.

douglas-photo.jpg

  

Word from Ferentz

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

The Iowa sports information department released a statement from Kirk Ferentz today regarding Friday’s arrests of James Cleveland and Arvell Nelson. Ferentz and director of athletics Gary Barta are away on a cruise until March 3.

Here’s the statement from Ferentz:

“I was very disappointed to learn the news of the most recent incident involving two of our players. It’s especially disheartening since we made it such a major point of emphasis with our players since the end of last season. Both players will be suspended, indefinitely, until I have a chance to examine all the facts involved in the case.”

As I said in last night’s post, I’d be surprised if either Cleveland or Nelson ever put on an Iowa uniform again. I don’t know all the details of the arrest, but it doesn’t sound good.

On a lighter note, I’m in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine this weekend, trying to get a feel for what’s going to happen with Charles Godfrey, Ken Iwebema, Bryan Mattison and Mike Humpal in April’s draft. Seems like Godfrey is one scouts like because of his size and speed, but the consensus is that he is a very raw corner, having switched from safety before the 2006 season. The experience at both positions might actually help him in the draft. A year ago, Iwebema was pegged as a top d-line prospect but because of some injury problems, he’s dropped significantly down the board. Mattison and Humpal are the kind of blue-collar guys who’ll probably work their way onto an NFL roster, be it through the draft of free agency. I expect Godfrey to be a late Day 1 or early Day 2 pick, and Iwebema probably will go later in Day 2.

Here’s food for thought that was tossed about by some reporters in the press box last fall. Who on Iowa’s 2007 roster, besides the outgoing seniors who will get a chance this season, will be professional prospects in the future? Cleveland might have been one. DJK? Jake Christensen? A.J. Edds? Adrian Clayborn? Mitch King? I’d say at this point, the safest bet is Seth Olsen, who’ll get a shot after this season. But, when it’s all said and done, I think Bryan Bulaga could be a first-round draft pick.

That might be one indicator as to why Iowa has struggled the past two seasons. Look at all the NFL talent the Hawkeyes had on the field, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, during their run of success from 2002-2005. The past two seasons … not so much.    

Thoughts?   

So much for clean slates

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS — By now, I’m sure all of you are aware James Cleveland and Arvell Nelson were arrested on drug charges Friday night. Honestly, I’m shocked, but not surprised, if that makes any sense at all. I’m shocked because I can’t believe the message hasn’t been sent loud and clear to football players on a team that has been in the police blotter more than any other in the country and that they would be smoking marijuana in their dorm. Seriously, how stupid do you have to be? I’m not surprised, because Nelson and Cleveland are the same guys who were posing in pictures holding large sums of cash and liquor last fall. Some people never learn, and this clearly wasn’t going to end with these guys until it ended badly.

That said, I do find a little bit of humor in sports information director Phil Haddy’s comment that Kirk Ferentz and Gary Barta couldn’t comment because they’re on the Hawkeye cruise until March 3. Is that code for “out to lunch?” I’m not quite sure at this point. These latest arrests make 18 of 14 players since last April 14th — that’s “Thug U” level, and the coach, who is 12-13 in his past two seasons and missed a bowl game last fall, just got a 1-year contract extension. Is that acceptable to you Hawkeyes fans who pay his $2.84 million annual salary? Fans want a winning team, and they’ll probably overlook a little off-field trouble if the team is winning 10 and taking them to Florida for New Year’s. But when the team is losing and the off-field embarrassments are mounting, it’s got to get a little tiresome.

What’s next? I’m assuming Cleveland and Nelson are gone, which is going to seriously hurt the Iowa offense, which was the worst in the Big Ten in 2007. Cleveland was one of the top young receivers in the conference, both at running routes, catching passes and, especially, blocking down field. He will be missed. Nelson is one of a handful of players who was expected to push Jake Christensen for the starting job. Now, that field likely will be Christensen, Ricky Stanzi and Marvin McNutt (not sure yet if any of those true freshman will figure in the mix).

Most of all, this is really disappointing. Disappointing for a team that thought it’s off-field troubles were behind it, for a coaching staff that has had a constant headache the past 10 months and a fan base that expects and deserves better.

It’ll be interesting to hear what Ferentz has to say when he comes ashore. Until then, what are your thoughts?    

ESPN picks Iowa 10th in Big Ten

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Not sure if you’ve all seen this, but ESPN.com came out with its Big Ten Spring Power Rankings, and they’ve picked Iowa to finish 10th in the conference in 2008, ahead of only Minnesota.

From ESPN’s rankings: 

What we know: The entire offensive line is back, and Mitch King anchors the defensive front.
What we don’t know:Who steps in at running back and how Kirk Ferentz’s staff shuffle will play out.
How the Hawkeyes can win the league title:Kidnap Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor, of course, is the heralded high school senior still deciding between Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Oregon. And he won’t be coming to the Hawkeyes’ rescue.

So, with what they’ve got, where do they finish? Seriously, is this a 10th-place team? ESPN certainly has been wrong before — Les Miles to Michigan — but they know something about college football. Let’s take a look at Iowa’s schedule and see what we think:

Date Opponent My pick
 8/30  Maine W
 9/6 Florida International W
 9/13 Iowa State W
 9/20 at Pittsburgh
 9/27 Northwestern W
 10/4 at Michigan State L
 10/11 at Indiana
 10/18 Wisconsin L
 11/1 at Illinois L
 11/8 Penn State L
 11/15 Purdue W
 11/22 at Minnesota

So, I guess I’ve got them going anywhere from 5-7, 2-6 in the Big Ten to 8-4, 4-4. The former potentially could land the Hawkeyes in 10th place in the conference standings. The latter would be a great improvement from what they’ve don’t the past two seasons (6-7 in 2006 and 6-6 in 2007).

ESPN also has a more detailed look the Big Ten. Here’s what they had to say about Iowa:

What to watch
Quarterback
Jake Christensenneeds to re-establish himself after a subpar sophomore season. Christensen will compete this spring with Arvell Nelson, Ricky Stanzi and Marvin McNutt.

Take the two most productive players (Albert Young and Damian Sims) out of the Big Ten’s worst offense and you have a problem. Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz tries to solve it this spring as he searches for a running back. Shonn Greene, who played as a sophomore before transferring to a community college because of academic troubles, is back and will compete with junior college transfer Nate Guillory and sophomore Jevon Pugh.

Linebacker and defensive end will be priorities after Iowa loses leading tackler Mike Humpal and top pass rusher Bryan Mattison. 

Spring practice starts March 26, and the Hawkeyes will hold their open practice April 19 at Kinnick Stadium. Where do you think the team is headed?   

Interesting timing

Monday, February 11th, 2008

I thought it was interesting when Kirk Ferentz said on National Signing Day that he might have “a couple announcements” to make later in the week. Turns out, those announcements were that Shonn Greene and Amari Spievey are returning to Iowa after a year away at community college to get their academics in order.

Greene, a bruising running back who played two seasons at Iowa, is expected to jump in and be the favorite for the starting job, along with sophomore Jevon Pugh. Spievey, who played last season at Iowa Central after redshirting at Iowa in 2006, should start at corner. Now, what does that say to the three running backs and six defensive backs who inked letters of intent last Wednesday, sold on the “immediate opportunity” to earn playing time because of a shallow depth chart at both positions? All of a sudden, guys like Jeff Brinson, Nate Guillory and Jewel Hampton, who all have been quoted at one time or another as saying they were told by the coaching staff during the recruiting process that the Hawkeyes would have no returning scholarship running backs next season (that was before Pugh enrolled late in the classes this spring), are coming in behind two established backs.  

I think it’s a good thing. 

What was a shallow depth chart and an area of need at both running back and linebacker, now will be hotly contested battles during spring ball and fall camp. Competition tends to bring out the best in players and, therefore, improve the product on the field. Whoever emerges as the starter at running back will be solid, and I don’t think there will be much of a drop off when the second and third guys come off the bench. And with Jordan Bernstine and Spievey potentially starting at corners, with some of the incoming freshmen getting in the mix, the defensive backfield could develop into a dominant unit in the next two to three seasons.

I just thought it was interesting that Ferentz waited until after Signing Day to reveal Greene and Spievey were coming back. It was a good move on his part. Had he done it earlier, he might have lost some recruits. And, as I said, a little competition never hurt anybody.    

Worth checking out

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Signing day is in the books, and, with maybe one or two exceptions, Iowa’s 2008 class is complete — Kirk Ferentz did say Wednesday that he might have an announcement later this week.

Coming in, this appears to be an average class. Of course, we won’t know how good it truly is for two or three years when we know how many of these guys stick around and how many wins they help the Hawkeyes collect. That said, I like this crop of recruits. Watching the highlight films on all of them shows some potential. I think the three running backs coming in could team to be very effective over the next few seasons, especially running behind what should be a seasoned offensive line. And I like the fact that the coaching staff appears dedicated to giving David Blackwell a shot at QB. Between Blackwell, John Wienke, James Vandenberg, Arvell Nelson, Marvin McNutt, Ricky Stanzi and Adam Farnsworth, someone should be able to push Jake Christensen for the starting job next fall. At the very least, they’ll push Christensen to elevate his game beyond where it was last season.

I also think there is some very good potential on defense coming in. Khalif Staten, who was an explosive receiver in high school, could be a freak at outside linebacker. And there is a handful of defensive backs that should provide Iowa with at least two or three solid players in the years to come.

As always, it’s hard to tell how good these guys are going to be. Highlight tapes are just that — highlights. We don’t know who they’re playing or what the other side of the coin looks like. So, I’d advise you to be enthused but to be cautious with expectations. This will be a developmental class, and I’d look for it to make an impact in the 2010 season. The running backs, of course, could — and probably will – come of age sooner than that.   

If you want to check out highlight film on all the recruits and read up on their full bios, go to www.gohawks.com. My stat of the day from the Class of 2008 … James Vandenberg’s career completion percentage of 64 percent, including a single-season mark of 70 percent. Just a note: Jake Christensen’s career completion percentage in high school was just over 50 percent, right about where he is through two seasons at Iowa. That’s not to say Vandenberg is going to come in and complete 65 percent of his passes. That stat just jumped out at me as I was reading over the bios.

Spring practice starts next month. What are you looking for from the Hawkeyes? Who from this class do you think is going to jump right in and contribute? What is your prediction for next season? I’m sticking with my early prediction: 6-6, maybe 7-5.    

Recruiting watch: Hawkeyes land Texas DE

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Marcus Malbrough, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end from Beaumont, Texas, has committed to play football at Iowa, according to Web site Rivals.com.

Malbrough chose Iowa over offers from Mississippi State, Tulane, Houston and Baylor. He is rated a 2-star prospect.

There are 21 players from the Class of 2008 known to have committed to Iowa. One junior college player, running back Nate Guillory, already has signed a binding letter of intent and will enroll in classes this spring.
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Catching up with the Hawkeyes

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I was out of town for the holiday season and have spent this week getting caught up with some things at the office. It was an uneventful Christmas and New Years for me, and I hope all of you had a healthy and happy holiday season. As for the Hawkeyes, a lot went on while I was gone that I want to weigh in on.

Another arrest

Tight end Brandon Myers was booked on an interference with official acts charge Dec. 23, becoming the 12th Iowa player to have a scrape with the law since the conclusion of spring practice last April. The way I heard it, Myers, 22, was trying to break up a fight and got caught in the wrong situation. Not really a big deal — certainly not as serious as some of the previous charges against Iowa players. And Myers is a good kid with a good track record. Still, it was one more instance of the football team having a player with his name in the headlines for the wrong reason, another name on the list that I have pasted below.

I wonder if the Hawkeyes made any New Year’s resolutions???

Police Blotter
Twelve Iowa football players have accounted for 16 arrests in Johnson County since April 14. Here is a list of the players with the charges and date of arrest:
Player Charge Date of arrest
Ryan Bain Disorderly conduct April 14
Ricky Stanzi Possession of alcohol May 5
Dana Brown Fifth-degree theft May 15
Tyler Gerstandt Possession of alcohol May 18
Arvell Nelson Driving with a suspended license July 2
Bradley Fletcher OWI July 15
Dana Brown Fifth-degree theft July 24
Ben Evans OWI July 29
Arvell Nelson Failure to appear in court Aug. 16
Anthony Bowman Unauthorized use of a credit card Aug. 18
Dominique Douglas Unauthorized use of a credit card Aug. 18
Clint Huntrods Public intoxication / urination Sept. 6
Lance Tillison OWI Sept. 16
Dana Brown Domestic assault Oct. 16
Dominique Douglas Fifth-degree theft Oct. 29
Brandon Myers Interference with official acts Dec. 23

No jail time for Bowman

By now, you all know sophomore receiver Anthony Bowman entered a guilty plea in the infamous credit card case and has been granted a deferred judgment, which means if he stays out of trouble, he will not serve time, and the aggravated misdemeanor credit card fraud charge — reduced from unauthorized use of a credit card, a Class D felony — will be wiped from his record. Dominique Douglas entered the same plea, but he has not been granted a deferred judgment and has been ordered to appear at sentencing Jan. 25. It certainly doesn’t help Douglas’ cause that he was arrested in October for shoplifting while he was awaiting trial for the credit card theft.

Douglas has announced he is transferring. His facebook page gives some vague indication that he is headed to the Big East, probably Rutgers. We haven’t yet heard what Bowman’s fate will be. I talked to Bowman on the phone yesterday, and he said he will return to school next semester, but he wouldn’t comment on his status with the football team. He said he isn’t supposed to talk to reporters. I’m guessing that means Bowman will be back in uniform next season as long as he meets certain expectations, one of which is giving no comment to reporters like me.

Two more commitments

The Hawkeyes landed two more oral commitments from 3-star prospects right before Christmas. Running back Jeff Brinson and receiver Khalif Staten have said they will play at Iowa. Brinson is the third running back to commit, including juco transfer Nate Guillory, who already has signed a binding letter of intent.

Still no official word on whether Jevon Pugh, Iowa’s only returning scholarship back, will return next season. I’ve been told Pugh is leaving school, but I haven’t been able to get a hold of him at his home in Florida. Pugh ran for 40 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman last season. He was being groomed to take over the starting role. Albert Young said late in the season, after Pugh scored the game-winning touchdown against Michigan State, that Pugh would be a beast in years to come.

The addition of Brinson and Staten bolsters a recruiting class that is shaping up to be a typical Iowa haul — 2- and 3-star guys who have flown somewhat under the radar and will develop once they get to Iowa City. I like Staten’s athleticism. He’s a 6-foot-3, 219-pound receiver, who could also play outside linebacker in college. And with Brinson, Guillory and Jewel Martin, the Hawkeyes should be able to forge a backfield next season behind an experienced offensive line. I’ve pasted below the complete list of players who have orally committed to Iowa.

2008 Recruits
Here are the players who have given oral commitments to play football at Iowa:
Player Rating Position Height Weight Hometown
John Wienke *** QB 6-4 196 Tuscola, Ill.
James Ferentz *** OL 6-2 250 Iowa City
Riley Reiff *** DE 6-6 250 Parkston, S.D.
Jonathan Gimm *** TE 6-3 235 Spring, Texas
Brad Herman *** TE 6-5 220 Metamora, Ill.
DeMarco Paine *** ATH 5-10 175 St. Louis
David Blackwell *** ATH 6-2 207 Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Nate Guillory # *** RB 5-10 180 Houston
Jeff Brinson *** RB 5-11 203 St. Petersburg, Fla.
Khalif Staten *** WR 6-3 219 Brooklyn, N.Y.
David Cato ** DB 5-10 190 Mansfield, Texas
Trent Mossbrucker ** K 5-11 195 Mooresville, Ind.
Shaun Prater ** DB 5-10 159 Omaha, Neb.
Jack Swanson ** DB 5-11 173 Naples, Fla.
Joe Gaglione ** DE 6-3 230 Mentor, Ohio
Jewel Hampton ** RB 5-9 195 Indianapolis
Jermil Martin ** DE 6-1 230 Cleveland, Ohio
Shane Prater ** WR 6-0 158 Omaha, Neb.
Jason Semmes ** DE 6-3 218 Orchard Lake, Mich.
James Vandenberg ** QB 6-2 176 Keokuk, Iowa
J.D. Griggs ** TE 6-4 220 Piscataway, N.J.
# Junior out of Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College has signed letter of intent

Ferentz to Baltimore

It wasn’t too hard to figure out that the Kirk Ferentz-to-the Baltimore Ravens talk would come just seconds after Brian Billick’s firing. Ferentz worked for the Ravens for nine years, when they were in Cleveland and Baltimore, and his name always is thrown out there when NFL jobs open up. He’s not going anywhere. Not Michigan. Not Baltimore. Not anywhere. He is having a press conference Tuesday, but it’s not to announce he’s leaving. It’s his usual postseason presser that just seems really, really late this year because Iowa wasn’t playing in a bowl.

Big Ten bowls

The Big Ten has done OK this bowl season. It was nice to see Michigan send Lloyd Carr out with a victory. He is a great coach and a great man who never got enough credit for the success he had because expectations in Ann Arbor are so far out of whack. Illinois obviously showed its trip to the Rose Bowl was a bit premature, though I do have to say the speed on that team, while not as deep as USC’s, is downright scary, and the Illini are going to be a top-tier Big Ten team for the foreseeable future. I was surprised to see Indiana get pounded in the Insight Bowl. I thought the Hoosiers had the offense to compete with Oklahoma State. Good news for the Hawkeyes today — James Hardy, the IU receiver who has killed Iowa the past three years, is turning pro. Wisconsin had every chance to beat Tennessee. Man, did Badgers quarterback Tyler Donovan take a beating. Michigan State surprised me a bit in hanging with Boston College, while Purdue surprised me a bit in letting Central Michigan hang around. And Penn State got a nice win over Texas A&M in Joe Pa’s 500th game. No, Paterno is not retiring this offseason.

That’s all I’ve got. I’ll have more from Ferentz’s news conference Tuesday. What are you Iowa fans wanting to hear from the coach?
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You be the judge

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I’ve received a few e-mails questioning the context of an Albert Young quote I used in a blog post last week. In that post, I was outlining what Iowa’s depth chart at running back will look like if, in fact, sophomore-to-be Jevon Pugh, the frontrunner for the starting job, does not return next season, as has been reported. If Pugh leaves, Iowa will not return a scholarship running back.

There is the possibility that Shonn Greene, who played two seasons at Iowa before leaving the team and the university in June because of academics, could return. He has been taking classes at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids to try to get his grades in order. Greene declined interviews this fall and has not indicated whether he will return to Iowa. He rooms with Young, though, which is why Young was asked Nov. 6 to give an update on Greene’s plans. Young did not want to comment, saying only, “I don’t know. Shonn loves watching TV, man. He’s alright. He’s alright. I don’t know. I don’t want to say anything.” If you want to listen to the question and answer, click twice on the play button above and decide for yourself what you think Young meant.

I took it to mean that Greene has not fully committed to getting his coursework in order and staying in football shape. That might be jumping to conclusions, but Young could have said something like, “Yes. Shonn is working hard to get back into school and back onto this team.” He didn’t. He said Greene loves to watch TV. And, yes, we all love to watch TV, but to me that says Greene has higher priorities than getting back in an Iowa uniform.

There has been no official word on Pugh’s departure. A source told me last week that the Naples, Fla., native was headed home — the same source that told me Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield were leaving the program, which became official Monday — and multiple recruits have said the coaching staff has told them the same. Iowa has received verbal commitments from two running backs — Nate Guillory, a top-rated junior college player, and Jewel Hampton, a high school senior from Indianapolis. At least two other backs have visited Iowa and have scholarship offers on the table.

Getting Greene back would be a huge boost. While he’s not been a featured runner, he is a proven commodity, having gained 378 yards and scored two touchdowns in his two seasons. He’s a big, bruising runner, and he could carry the load in 2008 behind what is expected to be an improved offensive line.

Or … he could be at home watching on TV. We know he likes that. We likely won’t know until June whether or not he’s coming back.

Contact Eric Page at epage@qctimes.com.