There are signs of New Kirk on the recruiting trail

Kirk Ferentz (right) poses for a photo with Georgia running back Tyler Goodson and Goodson's mother.

By Pat Harty

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A running back from Georgia and a quarterback from Texas, who is only entering his junior year of high school, are the latest recruits to commit to the Iowa football team.

Georgia running Tyler Goodson announced his commitment to Iowa via Twitter on July 3 and less than a week after 2020 Texas quarterback Deuce Hogan had announced for the Hawkeyes.

Goodson is the third player from Georgia to pick Iowa since 2017, while Hogan is the second quarterback from Texas to pick Iowa in less than two years, the first being Peyton Mansell, who was redshirted as a true freshman last season.

Iowa also had a quarterback from California, San Rafael native Spencer Petras, in its 2018 recruiting class, and recently added Colorado quarterback Alex Padilla to its 2019 class.

Georgia, California and Colorado are three states where Iowa rarely has recruited under Kirk Ferentz, while Texas has been both hot and cold as a recruiting territory, much like Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been under Ferentz.

The recent changes to the Iowa coaching staff, which includes the additions of Alabama native Derrick Foster as the running backs coach and Florida native Kelton Copeland as the receivers coach, appears to have helped tap into a new recruiting pipeline to the talent-rich southeast where they both grew up and have connections.

But there also are signs that Ferentz is allowing the search for talent to be expanded, and is more willing to recruit in places where he wasn’t before, places like California for example.

Iowa signed a handful recruits from California during the early stages under Ferentz, including high school teammates Edgar Cervantes and Ramon Ochoa, both of whom were part of Ferentz’s first recruiting class in 1999.

Iowa also signed quarterback Nathan Chandler in 2002 after he had attended junior college in California for two years.

But for the most part, California has been passed over by the Iowa coaches until recently, and the same with Colorado and Georgia.

So perhaps what we’re seeing is Ferentz’s version of New Kirk the recruiter because it just looks and feels different from a recruiting standpoint.

Iowa will always recruit extensively in the Midwest for lots of reasons, including proximity and money, but the reluctance to recruit in areas that aren’t as convenient or famous for producing Hawkeye recruits appears to have softened.

Iowa’s recruiting seems far less predictable than before and has fewer self-imposed boundaries.

And since nothing happens to the Iowa football program without Kirk Ferentz’s approval, these changes with recruiting can be traced to him.

Iowa also has dipped into Maryland in search of talent with mixed results.

Hawkeye fans should be pleased that Ferentz is showing more flexibility in recruiting because a developmental program like Iowa needs to search long and hard for good fits, and to broaden your search creates more options.

It probably helps that Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz, is the offensive coordinator because Brian is the one person who really seems capable of getting his father to think outside the box a little bit, or to embrace change.

This isn’t to say that every stone is being turned over during the recruiting process, but the Hawkeye brand appears to be expanding as Kirk Ferentz approaches his 63rd birthday on August. 1 and his 20th season as the Iowa head coach.

Kirk Ferentz showed some reluctance to recruit in Georgia, particularly the Atlanta area, when asked about it on national signing day in December.  He mentioned that Iowa tried to recruit star running back Bradley Chubb out of Georgia, but was unsuccessful.

“I’m still wrestling with the Atlanta, the Georgia [area]; the quality of football down there is great, not unlike Ohio,” Ferentz said. “Bradley Chubb was a guy that was on our list. Never made a trip here. The key is can you get them on campus? That’s the key. Anytime you go further away [getting the players on campus becomes a concern]. That’s something we’re going to talk about in the weeks ahead.”

Those conversations have since been held and it now seems apparent that Kirk Ferentz is willing to keep recruiting in Georgia.

It would be much easier to land a recruit from an unfamiliar territory who doesn’t have many scholarship offers. But that certainly isn’t the case with the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Tyler Goodson.

He picked Iowa over a long and distinguished list of scholarship offers from schools that include Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa State, Kentucky, Kansas State, Indiana, Colorado, Boston College, Washington State and Wake Forest among others.

Goodson narrowed his list to Iowa, Wake Forest and West Virginia before picking the Hawkeyes.

He told that the Iowa football program’s connection to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital was a key factor in his decision.

Goodson supports an organization called Happy Feat, which helps to create friendships and inclusion for young people with disabilities in his community.

“If you follow me on social media, you know that an organization close to my heart is Happy Feat, so when I learned about the relationship with the University of Iowa and the Children’s Hospital, I immediately connected with that,” Goodson said.

Hogan reportedly picked Iowa over at least nine other scholarship offers from Baylor, Boston College, Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma State, Syracuse and Tulsa. He reportedly made unofficial visits to Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Iowa and Baylor before making a decision.

His commitment marks the earliest that a quarterback has committed to Iowa under Kirk Ferentz.

Kirk Ferentz has been criticized at times for being too conservative, too stubborn and too old-fashioned as a head coach.

He is more about substance than style, and sometimes that makes him seem kind of boring or predictable as a recruiter.

But Kirk Ferentz is also the longest-tenured head coach in college football and you don’t achieve that status without being flexible and willing to change with the times.

Iowa’s most recent verbal commitment from a running back from Georgia shows that Ferentz is willing to change.