Ferentz talks Iowa football’s 2019 recruiting class

Kirk Ferentz met with the media on Wednesday to discuss Iowa’s 2019 recruiting class.

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Ferentz talks Iowa football’s 2019 recruiting class

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz answers a question during a press conference  in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz answers a question during a press conference in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz answers a question during a press conference in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz answers a question during a press conference in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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With football about seven months away, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz took to the podium Wednesday to talk about the Hawkeyes’ 2019 recruiting class.

RELATED: Hawkeye football’s defense locked and loaded for 2019

Three future Hawkeyes signed on Wednesday to become a part of the 23-man recruiting class that also has 11 walk-ons: defensive back Jermari Harris, defensive lineman Taajhir McCall, and punter Michael Sleep-Dalton.

Sleep-Dalton, a graduate transfer from Arizona State, will join a three-man competition for the starting punter job with Colten Rastetter and Ryan Gersonde.

A native of Geelong, Australia, Sleep-Dalton finished the 2018 season averaging 43.8 yards a punt with a long of 72, besting Rastetter’s 38.9-yard average and 69 long, as well as Gersonde’s 42.5 and 61 marks on 13 punts.

Ferentz said it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find punters, so the acquisition of Sleep-Dalton should help Iowa next season.

“I’ve told this to people with young boys: Get these guys punting the ball, because it’s really kind of a lost art,” Ferentz said. “I think [punters are] more and more hard to find or challenging to find, and it’s just not something that people really gravitate toward for whatever reason.”

If Sleep-Dalton wins the starting job, he will have to do much more than punt the ball far, and Ferentz is keeping an eye on that.

“Averages are one thing and all that, but what really tells you the picture, you factor in hang time, directional punting, all those types of things that we ask our guys to do. There are a lot of challenges that punters go through.””

“Averages are one thing and all that, but what really tells you the picture, you factor in hang time, directional punting, all those types of things that we ask our guys to do,” Ferentz said. “There are a lot of challenges that punters go through.”

In addition to Sleep-Dalton’s signing, Harris and McCall have the potential to play roles in which the Hawkeyes could use some help.

While Iowa doesn’t have an excessive need at cornerback because of the play of Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins, along with backups Riley Moss and Julius Brents, the defensive line is a different story.

RELATED: Looking ahead to Iowa football’s 2019 offense

All four starters — Parker Hesse, Anthony Nelson, Matt Nelson, and Sam Brincks — have departed, leaving some holes.

Whether the two have an immediate effect or not, Iowa got the players it wanted late in the recruiting process.

“[Defensive coordinator] Phil [Parker] went out, and went through his process, and tried to gather as much information as he could to make sure, A) that we could find a guy that we felt really good about, and B) hopefully, that would mesh up with what the player was thinking,” Ferentz said. “We’re happy with the way it turned out.”

While the day focused on the new Hawkeyes, Ferentz noted some former Iowa players.

He made a trip to the Super Bowl, where he met up with Adrian Clayborn and James Ferentz of the New England Patriots, whom Ferentz coached.

In Iowa City, James Daniels and Josh Jackson have returned to the facility.

Ferentz said Daniels is back taking classes and working toward his degree, and he believes Jackson is taking online classes.

He also said he expects to see Marshal Yanda’s blue truck outside the facility soon.

Daniels played in all 16 games and made 10 starts, helping the Chicago Bears to a 12-4 record and an NFC North title, and Jackson racked up 49 tackles and broke up 10 passes for the Green Bay Packers.

“Josh just wanted to get back into the environment, and I think that says a lot, and I think James feels the same way,” Ferentz said. “I think it’s great our players feel welcome coming back. They want to be back because they know [strength coach] Chris [Doyle] in that room will help them move forward as pros.”