Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks with members of the media during a spring practice at Valley Stadium in Des Moines on Friday, April 7, 2017. The Hawkeyes will host a night spring game in Iowa City on Friday, April 21. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

National Signing Day, new coach focus of football

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Now that National Signing Day is over, the spring football season is right around the corner.

By Pete Ruden

peter-ruden@uiowa.edu

It might not seem like it, but football is back. National Signing Day took place Wednesday, meaning spring ball is nigh.

On the day that 23 future Hawkeyes signed their National Letters of Intent to play football in the Black and Gold, the Hawkeyes announced that Iowa’s first spring practice will take place on March 21 and the team’s spring game is set for April 20.

It was an important day, and head coach Kirk Ferentz said he was pleased with how the class came together.

“We’ve got a great class of signees, and we’re really happy with that,” Ferentz said. “I think all have a very clear understanding what it takes to be a Hawkeye. Certainly that process will continue to move forward, but it’s a great start with those guys.”

Foster addresses media

While Wednesday was certainly an exciting day for the future of Iowa football, it was also a big day for the present.

Derrick Foster, Iowa’s 10th assistant coach, spoke with local media for the first time since his hiring.

Before Foster took the podium, Ferentz announced that Foster will coach the running backs when the season comes around, and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz will help with the tight ends and fullbacks. Previous tight-end coach LaVar Woods is set to take the role of coaching special teams.

Foster said it’s a big leap for him coming from Samford, where he served as the running-back coach and running-game coordinator, but he said it is a great opportunity.

“As a running-back coach, my main goals are to come in here and learn how to do it the Hawkeye way, learn the Hawkeye philosophy,” Foster said. “I have a lot to learn, I have a lot to grow, and I look forward to adding value as well.”

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Signees could play right away

Between those who received a scholarship and walk-ons, Iowa has nine linebackers in its 2018 recruiting class.

The coaching staff has also been unafraid to throw defensive backs on the field and help them adjust to the speed of the game.

Ferentz said there is opportunity for both position groups to find their way to the field this season.

“All the guys, we’re excited about it, we think they’re good players, good prospects,” Ferentz said about the linebacker group. “And I think it’s fair to say that a couple of guys will be involved next year on special teams. We’ll get them on the field and redshirt another guy or two. We have an open mind.”

Searching in the South

In addition to his role as running-back coach, Foster said he has ties in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana for recruiting.

Ferentz said there is potential to increase recruiting efforts in the south and noted wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland’s familiarity in the state of Florida.

Of Iowa’s 23 signees, only two are from the South — linebacker Jayden McDonald hails from Georgia, and wide receiver Calvin Lockett is from Florida.

Ferentz said North Carolina State star defensive end Bradley Chubb was on his list, but he never got Chubb to visit campus, this, Ferentz said, is an important part of closing a deal.

“The key is can you get them on campus, that’s the key,” he said. “Anytime you go farther away, that’s something we’re going to talk about in the weeks ahead. We’re going to look at our football stuff. We’ll talk about recruiting, and we’ll talk about the areas and how much time do we invest here and there.”

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