Iowa Hawkeyes

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WR Matt VandeBerg reinjures foot, likely out for Iowa’s spring

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Aside from bad, Matt VandeBerg simply hasn’t had much luck at all on the injury front of late.

The Iowa wide receiver suffered a foot injury in late September last year and ultimately missed the remainder of the 2016 season.  Fast-forward nearly six months and VandeBerg appears to have found himself in a similar health predicament as he’s expected to miss the Hawkeyes’ spring practice this year.

There had been rumors that VandeBerg aggravated the issue earlier this month working out while preparing for spring practice. It’s unclear how long the senior will be sidelined and what if any impact it will have on his availability this coming season.

At the time he sustained the initial injury, VandeBerg led the Hawkeyes in receptions (19), receiving yards (284) and receiving touchdowns (284). In 2015, his 65 catches for 703 yards were tops on the team, while his four receiving touchdowns were second.

VandeBerg received a medical redshirt for the 2016 season that would allow him to play this season, provided he’s healthy.

Son of Hall of Famer Kurt Warner to walk on at Nebraska

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The parents section at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln continues to get more and more interesting.  And star-studded.

Nebraska had already received Herbie Hancocks on a National Letter of Intent from Ben Miles, son of former LSU head coach Les Miles, and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., whose father Keyshawn Johnson played for Mike Riley at USC and went on to star in the NFL, as part of their Class of 2017.  Thursday night, at the end of a two-day visit, the son of another very famous member of the football community committed to the Cornhuskers as a walk-on.

Kade Warner (pictured, far left) is the son of Kurt Warner, the former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback who was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month as part of the nine-man 2017 class.

Unlike his dad, Kade Warner plays wide receiver, catching 83 passes for 1,063 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior at Desert Mountain High School in Arizona. The 6-2, 205-pounder’s 241 career receptions are a record for the state.

He didn’t have any scholarship offers coming out of high school, but did choose Nebraska over walk-on opportunities at, among others, Arizona State, Iowa and UCLA.

Iowa hires North Dakota State offensive coordinator as O-Line coach

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If you can’t beat ’em, hire ’em.

Iowa on Tuesday announced the hiring of North Dakota State offensive coordinator/running backs coach Tim Polasek as the Hawkeyes’ new offensive line coach. The announcement, of course, did not include a reference to the Bison’s 23-21 victory in Iowa City last September, a game in which North Dakota State beat the then-No. 13-ranked Hawkeyes by rushing 49 times for 239 yards and one touchdown.

Iowa also announced the hiring of Northern Illinois assistant Kelton Copeland as wide receivers coach.

“We are excited to add two extremely successful individuals who have worked in highly competitive programs to our staff,” Kirk Ferentz said in a statement.  “Tim has been involved in programs that have won at a very high level, earning a reputation as a great teacher, and as an individual who has established great relationships with his co-workers and players.

“Kelton, much like Tim, has been an assistant coach who has played a key role in the success of the programs he has been involved with.  His players and special teams units have posted great accomplishments, and he is very well respected as an up-and-coming assistant coach.  Both Tim and Kelton add vibrant personalities to our staff.  We expect both will be a great fit for our entire program, the university, and the community.”

Polasek fills a vacancy created by offensive coordinator Greg Davis‘s retirement last month; Ferentz chose his son, Brian Ferentz, to move from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator to replace Davis. Copeland will replace Bobby Kennedy, who was let go after four years on the staff. The Hawkeyes still have one open position on the staff created when running backs coach/special teams coordinator Chris White was let go alongside Kennedy last month.

Ken O’Keefe returns to Iowa coaching staff

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A blast from Iowa’s football past has made a return to Iowa City.

The football program announced Friday that Kirk Ferentz has brought back one of his long-time assistants, Ken O’Keefe, to be part of his 2017 coaching staff.  O’Keefe’s official capacity this time around will be quarterbacks coach.

From 1999-2011, O’Keefe served as not only the Hawkeyes’ quarterbacks coach but the offensive coordinator as well.

“We are pleased to have Ken rejoin our coaching staff in this position,” said Ferentz in a statement. “Ken is an excellent teacher who brings a wealth of college and NFL coaching experience to our staff. During Ken’s years in our program, the individual growth and overall performance of our quarterbacks played a major role in the success of our football team. Ken is a key addition to our staff moving forward. He is an outstanding person and a perfect fit to our staff.”

“I am excited to return to Iowa as quarterbacks coach,” said O’Keefe. “I look forward to working with Kirk Ferentz again, and the entire coaching staff. I gained valuable experience in Miami the last five years, but at the same time I am anxious to return to coaching and working with college players, and being back on campus at the University of Iowa.”

O’Keefe had spent the past five seasons with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins after leaving the Hawkeyes in February of 2012.  Iowa has been his only stop at the FBS level.

Big Ten National Signing Day recap: Ohio State lands historic class, Michigan not far behind

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The Big Ten is the same as it ever was after National Signing Day with Ohio State and Michigan once again leading the way thanks to a boat load of talent headed their way. Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh both have proven to be some of the top coaches in college football and that is certainly apparent every February when the two land a pair of top five classes like they did this year.

The Buckeyes’ haul is particularly notable as one of the few groups that can keep pace with No. 1 ranked Alabama, even edging the Tide’s class when it comes to the average star ranking of the 21 signees. That historic haul for OSU includes the top cornerback, outside linebacker, offensive guard and top junior college defensive back. As if that isn’t enough talent headed to Columbus, the second-ranked defensive end, dual-threat quarterback and all-purpose back are also in the fold.

The Wolverines were no slouch either and managed to already enroll 11 top players early. In addition, Harbaugh and his staff reached into the South for defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon and several IMG Academy stars. Defending champion Penn State made a late surge as well and Nebraska made a very nice push into Southern California to land a quality class.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 7 overall Jeffrey Okudah (CB, Ohio State), No. 8 overall Chase Young (DE, OSU), No. 11 Baron Browning (LB, OSU), No. 12 overall Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR, Michigan)

Top 25 classes: No. 2 Ohio State, No. 5 Michigan, No. 15 Penn State, No. 18 Maryland, No. 23 Nebraska

Biggest storyline: Ohio State, Michigan find plenty of success nationally

Everybody knows the two Big Ten powerhouses will perform well on the recruiting trail given their coaching staffs, history of success and ability to put players in the league. But what might be most impressive this year is the amazing reach the two displayed in mining the entire country for talent. Meyer went to Nevada for a top quarterback, landed more blue-chippers from Texas than any in-state school and beat out just about everybody in the South for prospects from Florida. The Wolverines, meanwhile, beat out Alabama and Georgia for a five-star defensive tackle and recruited even more nationally than Notre Dame with signees from 14 different states.

Biggest surprise: Maryland lands a top 20 class

There’s always a head-turner in the team rankings each year and in 2017 that might be the fact that Maryland landed a top 20 classes and the fourth-best in the Big Ten. That includes a whopping nine four-star recruits for D.J. Durkin’s team, led by tailback Cordarrian Richardson straight from the heart of SEC territory. The team had a nice turnaround last season and appear primed to climb more based on how they did Wednesday.

Don’t sleep on: Nebraska, Iowa

Mike Riley is no stranger to the West Coast thanks to his days at USC and Oregon State and he’s clearly leaning heavily on those ties in putting together a great group for the Cornhuskers in 2017. Big Red wrestled away Nevada receiver Tyjon Lindsey away from Ohio State and beat out a bunch of names for early enrollee quarterback Tristan Gebbia from Southern California. There’s been a major infusion of speed and quickness with this class. As for the Hawkeyes, they managed to lure a surprising commitment from a five-star defensive end and really upgraded some of the skill position talent.

We’ll see about: Michigan State, Wisconsin

The usual suspects dominated the top spots in the team rankings but that wasn’t quite the case for two teams that love to recruit, develop and then crank out talent for the next level in Michigan State and Wisconsin. The two schools combined for just six four-star players on Wednesday but still managed to finish with a pair of top 40 classes. Given how well the coaching staffs have been able to find some hidden gems, chances are high that will be the case once again with their 2017 signees, even if it takes a few seasons before those results will be realized.