September 30. 2008 11:07PM
The few, the proud — Iowa’s 2005 recruiting class
By Marc Morehouse
IOWA CITY — “Bust” might be too strong a word for Iowa’s 2005 recruiting class. But let’s not kid ourselves, time is running out.
A breakdown of starters last week shows just two starters the 2005 class. The 2004 (fifth-year seniors) and 2006 (juniors and red-shirt sophomores) claimed nine starters each Saturday. The 2007 class had three, and true freshman kicker Trent Mossbrucker is the only starter from 2008.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday he doesn’t have a set number of starters in his head that each class needs to produce. But there’s no denying that if the Hawkeyes (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) have a leak in personnel, it’s the 2005 group.
It’s no one’s fault and this isn’t about finger pointing. When a class that boasted seven U.S. Army All-American bowl selections produces just two starters in its fourth season on campus, it deserves examination.
That examination shows a ton of reasons for the thinning of what recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rated as the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class.
Linebacker Pat Angerer and offensive tackle Kyle Calloway started in Iowa’s 22-17 loss to Northwestern last weekend.
After that, there were two transfers (Ryan Bain and Justin Edwards), three career- or potentially career-ending injuries (Dace Richardson, Alex Kanellis and Vernon Jackson), four injury-marred careers (Trey Stross, Tony Moeaki, Dan Doering and Tyler Blum), three academic casualties (Kalvin Bailey, Corey Robertson and Marcus Wilson), one disciplinary removal (Dana Brown) and two for-whatever-reason transfers (Justin Collins and B.J. Travers).
“There’s no way to predict those things,” Ferentz said. “I’ll analyze that after the season. Several of those guys have had career-ending injuries. Alex Kanellis (concussions) comes to mind right off the bat.”
Not long before signing day in 2005, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was televised on NBC. Seven future Hawkeyes were featured, with a few committing to Iowa on national TV. As player after player announced for Iowa, the fight song was played by the band on hand at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“For the past several years, the Hawkeyes have been under the radar recruiting-wise,” Lemming said during the telecast.
“They’re no longer under the radar. They’re over the rainbow, it looks like.”
On February 2, 2005, Ferentz called it his best recruiting class, at least on paper, in what was then six years at Iowa.
“That’s a great illustration that prognostications don’t always materialize,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “The bottom line is that in football, it’s still more important to win, be ranked in January than in February. That’s really the end game. That’s what you’re trying to do.”
That’s exactly what the remaining members of the 2005 class are trying to do. Stross and Moeaki contributed last week with three catches. They’re finally healthy after battling a hamstring injury and a broken foot, respectively, this season.
“When we got here, our class had great talent,” said Stross, who’s had hamstring issues the last two seasons. “It’s just unfortunate. A lot of the kids didn’t take academics seriously, failed out, got arrested, got homesick. Some guys got hurt, serious injuries. That’s just been bad luck.
“I know a lot of people probably take shots at the class because they expected a lot out of it. But it’s part of football. We knew we wouldn’t end with the same amount of people, but to see that there are just 10 kids left is amazing.”
Other 2005 players await either their shot or next shot: quarterback Jake Christensen, guard Rafael Eubanks, offensive lineman Andy Kuempel and defensive back Chris Rowell.
You know all about Christensen, now the backup QB. Eubanks is a part-time starter who sat out last week with an injury. Rowell plays on a few special teams units. Doering might have been on the field at guard this year, too, but broke a wrist in camp and is attempting to play with a degree of pain and a giant cast.
Stross’ math is dead on. Only 10 players remain from the class of 22, which included junior college O-lineman Marshal Yanda, a starter for the Baltimore Ravens.
Ferentz didn’t want to analyze the roster too deeply Tuesday, not with seven Big Ten games left in the season. He did, however, acknowledge that such marked attrition has put a heavy tax on depth.
It’s also the likely reason behind 18 true freshman playing the last two seasons, 11 in ’07 and seven this year.
“You know, for every one that doesn’t work out, historically, hopefully, someone will surface as a surprise,” Ferentz said. “That’s kind of how it usually has to go for us.”
Time is running out. Of the remaining 10, only Moeaki is listed as a senior. He’ll likely have a medical hardship waiver available after missing the majority of 2007 with a dislocated elbow. The other nine are juniors.
They have seven more games this year and then next season.
Time is running out, but it’s not over for 2005.
“The few, the proud,” Stross said.