Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz talks 2023 recruiting class, Kadyn Proctor’s decommitment

The Hawkeyes signed 23 players on National Signing Day on Wednesday, including Michigan transfers Cade McNamara and Erick All.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz talks to referees nearby during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. The Huskers defeated the Hawkeyes, 24-17.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Despite five-star offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor’s recent decommitment, Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz said he’s excited for his 2023 recruiting class.

The Hawkeyes signed 23 players on Wednesday — the first day of the early signing period.

“Just in general, really pleased with the ’23 class,” Ferentz said at a press conference at Kinnick Stadium on Wednesday. “Each and every player involved in this class I think has a good appreciation or understanding of our program, our history, the traditions here, and really happy about that.”

The Hawkeyes missed out on what would’ve been the program’s highest-ranked recruit in history when Proctor flipped his commitment from Iowa to Alabama. Proctor had been verbally committed to the Hawkeyes since June, but went on official visits to Oregon and Alabama throughout the fall.

He officially flipped his commitment to the Crimson Tide on Tuesday — one day before National Signing Day — and signed with Alabama from Southeast Polk High School in Des Moines on Wednesday. Proctor said he felt like he was settling with Iowa, and Alabama was always in the back of his mind after he originally committed to the Hawkeyes.

It’s recruiting,” Ferentz said of Proctor’s decommitment. “I really haven’t read anything or heard much, but one thing I think I’ve said before, you can’t lose what you never had, and recruiting is not over until someone signs, actually signs, and not only commits but actually signs. The other part about that, the prospects, people have the right to make up their mind right until that time. So I respect that, and I’m sure that prospect had his reasons for doing what he’s done.”

Iowa football director of recruiting Tyler Barnes said the Hawkeyes’ 23 signed recruits on Wednesday is just part one of the Hawkeyes’ efforts to round out the 2023 class.

Barnes didn’t have a specific number of how many more players they’re planning to recruit for 2023 — he doesn’t even know what the roster will look like in two weeks.

“It’s pretty fluid, I think in this day and age, it’s extremely fluid,” Barnes said. “What’s unique is, I think this is the first year personally I really felt it — not only are we recruiting high school kids, we’re attacking the portal pretty hard, but we’re recruiting our own roster really hard too. That’s certain guys to stay and not go to the portal, certain guys to take that COVID year that they can use to come back.”

Nine Hawkeye football players have entered the portal since the regular season ended: quarterback Alex Padilla, offensive lineman Josh Volk, wide receivers Keagan Johnson and Arland Bruce, running back Gavin Williams, safeties Reggie Bracy and Dallas Craddieth, linebacker Jestin Jacobs, and cornerback Terry Roberts.

While Craddieth is in the transfer portal, he was still listed on the Hawkeyes’ bowl game depth chart. Ferentz confirmed he’s still practicing with the team for the Music City Bowl.

After a player enters the transfer portal, it is the coach’s discretion whether the player will continue to practice with the team. Of the nine entrants to the portal, Craddieth is the only one still prepping for the bowl game.

“I think he has interest in going to a smaller program, smaller level program closer to home, and finishing out his career there where he can really hopefully play a major role,” Ferentz said. “Can’t say enough about him. He’s grown in the program. Certainly we wish him all the best in his next home, but glad he’s going to be with us at least for this year.”

The Hawkeyes also officially signed Michigan transfers Cade McNamara and Erick All on Wednesday morning for the 2023 season.

McNamara, a graduate transfer quarterback with two years of eligibility remaining, led Michigan to a Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff berth in 2021. He was benched, however, at the beginning of the 2022 season in favor of J.J. McCarthy. 

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes’ familiarity with McNamara, both within the conference and head-to-head, helped the decision to pursue him in the transfer portal.

“I’m not a quarterback expert, but just watching what he did a year ago just struck me as a winner,” Ferentz said. “And that’s what you’re looking for at that position; a leader and a winner, someone that’s going to move the football team. He did a great job of that at his previous school, and yeah, whatever the details would have been this year and how things fell, to me it doesn’t matter, but it was a real opportunity for us.”

The Hawkeyes played against McNamara in the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game. He went 16-of-24 for 169 yards and a touchdown in Michigan’s 42-3 win over Iowa.

McNamara had a major season-ending leg surgery in November, and Ferentz said he’s not sure how much McNamara will participate in spring practice. But with McNamara’s high level of success, Ferentz said he’ll make a good transition.

All only played three games at tight end for Michigan in 2022 before undergoing season-ending back surgery. Ferentz said All’s relationship with McNamara helped the Hawkeyes recruit him to Iowa City.

“Several games prior to our game really caught my attention there, so it’s just sometimes you just notice players. He was one of them,” Ferentz said. “So it just turned out that he became interested and available, and he and Cade have a good relationship, I believe, so I don’t think it hurt us at least in our attempt to try to recruit him.”

All has not yet recovered from his October surgery, but Ferentz is confident he’ll be ready to go come football season.

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