By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Brian Ferentz has wasted no time in reaching out to former Iowa basketball player Ahmad Wagner.
Wagner told reporters on a Wednesday teleconference that Brian Ferentz already has contacted him about playing receiver for the Iowa football team.
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound Wagner announced on Tuesday that he will leave the Iowa basketball team after three seasons to pursue football in college.
“They’ve reached out to me, the offensive coordinator did,” Wagner said in reference to Brian Ferentz. “And they’ve been very respectful, and at this moment, I’m just taking it into consideration if they really would give me a chance.
“I’m just listening to anybody who wants to give me the opportunity to play at their organization. I’m open for anything. That’s why I’m just going to take it in right now and listen to people’s offers and talk to my parents and people close to me about making the right decision.”
Wagner said he tried to stay focused on just basketball until after the season, but the possibility of switching to football has been on his mind for a while.
He was all-state receiver as a senior in Ohio, and had scholarship offers from Ohio State and Kentucky for football.
“I didn’t really want to focus on making the switch until after the season, but it’s been something that’s been on my mind,” Wagner said. “It’s kind of hard to ignore with people always asking you about football and making the change. I always wanted to stay committed to the Iowa basketball program, and that’s what I did, and remain respectful to the people who asked about that.
“But it’s just been something that’s been on my mind, just hearing people talk about it and ask about it for a long time.”
Iowa isn't the only school to reach out to Wagner about playing football. He said Wednesday that he has heard from some other schools, but didn't mention any specific schools.
Iowa could have an advantage in that Wagner feels comfortable with his surroundings and with the university as a whole after being on campus for nearly three years.
He also could play immediately for the Iowa football team and have two seasons of eligibility, whereas Wagner would have to sit out next season and would have just one year of eligibility if he transferred to another FBS program.
“I am comfortable with Iowa,” Wagner said. “Iowa has always treated me well. Everybody here, the coaching staff, the people. Everybody has been wonderful since I’ve been at Iowa. So that is also important.
“Everything is going to go into consideration when I make my decision, sitting out, being able to play right away. All of that is going to go into whatever school I decide. So at Iowa, it not being subject to the transfer rule is definitely something I have to consider. But I’m considering all options right now.”
Iowa is believed to be two over the 85-scholarship limit for football at this point. But rosters are always fluid, so that could change by the time Wagner has to make a decision.
Wagner said he would be open to playing receiver or tight end. It would depend largely on what school he chooses to attend.
“I played wide receiver and that’s what I believe my natural position is just because of my speed and my ability to make plays,” Wagner said. “But if a school thinks I have a better chance of being successful as a tight end, I wouldn’t be opposed to that.”
Wagner played mostly as a reserve for the Iowa basketball team, which finished a disappointing 14-19 this past season. He said his Iowa teammates were very supportive of his decision to switch to football.
Wagner wants to pick a school as soon as possible, but he has no timetable for making a decision because he doesn't want to rush the process.
He also has no regrets about playing basketball for Iowa, and for sticking with it for three seasons under head coach Fran McCaffery.
"No regrets at all,” Wagner said. “Coach (Fran) McCaffery and staff have treated me with nothing but respect since the day I walked on campus, even before that when they were recruiting me. No regrets in that regard. No regrets in coming here. I’ve enjoyed all of my time playing for the men’s basketball team. No regrets at all.”
The time he spent playing basketball and training during the offseason over the past three years has left little opportunity for Wagner to work on his football skills.
"I've been really working on basketball and things of that nature," Wagner said. "But I'm excited to be able to work on my body and be able to work on my hands and the intangibles to be successful on the football field."