Chicago’s finest commit to Iowa together

By The Daily Iowan

(U-WIRE) IOWA CITY, Iowa – Individually, Iowa’s five recruits from the Chicago area are some of the most talented high-school prospects coach Kirk Ferentz has ever lured to Iowa City, Iowa.

Together, they hope to become special.

There’s the gem of the 2005 Hawkeye recruiting class – a polite, genuine, 300-pounder considered to be one of the nation’s best offensive tackles.

Add the South Side southpaw signal-caller with NFL genes and natural leadership abilities who threw consistent spirals as a toddler.

Don’t forget about the sure-handed, fleet-footed tight end with an impressive, muscular frame who may have the best shot at seeing minutes next season.

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Include the aggressive offensive tackle with a quick first step and 9-foot wingspan and quiet demeanor.

Also, the undefeated Illinois state wrestler, embracing a move from linebacker to defensive tackle with a self-imposed challenge to compete on the depth chart.

They’re five high-school seniors from four Windy City suburbs who plan to sign with Iowa on Wednesday as part of the best recruiting class in school history.


Barrington’s Dan Doering, Lockport’s Jake Christensen, Wheaton’s Tony Moeaki and Dace Richardson, and Bolingbrook’s Ryan Bain hardly played against each other in high school.

This past season, there was a regular-season game between Lockport and Bolingbrook. A couple teams may have crossed paths in the playoffs in previous years, but that was all the quintet saw of each other on the field.

Between them, there were offers from Southern California, Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee, Nebraska and Notre Dame, among others.

“We never all thought we’d go to the same school,” Bain said.

Christensen orally committed to the Hawkeyes in mid-June, canceling official visits to a collection of Southeastern Conference schools following a trip to Iowa City.

When the Illinois kids ran across each other on visits, banquets, photo shoots, or in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American game, Iowa became a topic of conversation.

Because of his early commitment, Christensen was usually the first one to begin whispering about the Hawkeyes into the ears of the other Chicagoans. They talked about going to the same school, about sticking together, and about starting a dynasty.

They all listened.

They all followed.

Doering, Richardson, Moeaki, and Bain all made their oral commitments to Iowa public on Jan. 15 at the All-American game, casting a national spotlight on Ferentz’s 2005 class.

Christensen said he never really sent a message to the other prospects about joining him at Iowa but helped put them at ease with the school and each other.

“We’re real close, which is real surprising considering we haven’t been together very long,” he said. “It’s something special we can build on.”

What makes five Chicago-area kids from different backgrounds all consider Iowa?

They all utter the same name – Ferentz.

“He cares a lot about his players,” Doering said. “I’m just real comfortable with him.”

The 2002 and 2004 Big Ten Coach of the Year and his staff were among the first things mentioned by the recruits when asked what attracted them to Iowa. They felt at ease talking with him, and Christensen said Ferentz treats the recruits as his equal.

“I just think he’s a great guy, along with the rest of the coaching staff,” Bain said. “What can’t I say about him?”

And like Ferentz, they’re already exhibiting a businesslike, modest approach to their successes -they understand the work they have to put in.

“We’re just a bunch of blue-collar guys,” said Christensen, who threw for more than 9,000 yards in his three-year varsity career. “None of us read our press clippings, and we’re all ready to go to work.”


Bain and Moeaki may have the best chance to see the field early in their careers – perhaps as soon as next season.

Iowa graduated all four starters on its defensive line from last season, leaving a lot of room for competition on the depth chart. Bain played linebacker at Bolingbrook, however, and had his first full week of practice on the line last month in San Antonio.

“I know the chances of a freshman coming in on the line are slim compared with other positions,” he said. “If I can contribute, that would be great.”

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound four-star prospect is 25-0 on the wrestling mat this season and carries the top ranking in Illinois as he prepares for the state championships in three weeks.

He wouldn’t mind taking a redshirt but said playing his first season isn’t going to hurt him. Bain may have one of the biggest upsides of Iowa’s class because of his inexperience on the line, and he has played football only three years.

He couldn’t play Pop Warner football in his youth because he was too heavy.

“I don’t know how to play D-line,” he said. “I’m going to Iowa this summer to get a head start on things and get to know the position.”

Moeaki – ranked by ESPN’s Tom Lemming and as the nation’s second-best tight end -already has the body to play Division-I football. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder impressed scouts at the All-American game with arguably the best hands among tight ends and receivers.

He’s ranked by Rivals as the 52nd-best overall prospect in the country at any position and should compete with Iowa’s current tight ends for positioning on the depth chart.

“Tony’s the real deal,” said Richardson, Moeaki’s teammate at Wheaton-Warrenville South High School.


If there’s been a disappointment in Iowa’s last couple recruiting classes, it’s been missing out on big-name offensive line prospects.

Not this year.

Doering and Richardson are both ranked among the country’s top-10 offensive lineman. Doering – Iowa’s only five-star recruit – is rated as the second-best tackle by Lemming and the fourth-best by Rivals. Richardson is considered to be the fifth-best by Lemming, eighth by Rivals.

Both said the program’s history of producing linemen for the next level, including 2003 Outland Trophy winner Robert Gallery, played a decisive role when narrowing their list.

“I just felt that for offensive linemen and getting ready for the NFL, Coach Ferentz is one of the best,” the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Richardson said. “It was an easy decision for me.”

The Hawkeyes lose only Pete McMahon off their Capital One Bowl offensive line two-deep, but both Doering and Richardson aren’t ruling out the possibility of playing next season. They both admit redshirting could be beneficial but given the opportunity, would love to contribute.

“One of my goals is to make the second string,” said Doering, who bench-presses 300 pounds. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to start – it’d definitely be a huge, huge task in itself to make the starting lineup – but I hope to make the traveling team.”

Richardson described his style as aggressive.

“The other person knows I’m going to hit him 100 percent every time, and it tires him out a little bit,” Richardson said, “while I keep going.”

Doering used the word explosive.

“Being able to get off the ball and just beating him to the punch,” he said about his biggest asset. “And being able to get downfield and make blocks for big plays.”


A few Big Ten titles.

A couple trips to Pasadena.

Maybe even a national championship.

“We’ll see in four years if we get a nickname,” Bain said.

Ferentz and his staff have been credited with getting the most production out of its players. None of his recruiting classes have ranked in the top 35 in the nation the past three seasons.

Iowa currently boasts the country’s seventh-best class.

“I just know we’re going to have a good four or five years together,” Richardson said. “I think we’re all on same page, and we all have the same goals to come in and go win a national championship and go to the Rose Bowl.”

Individually, they have the talent.

Individually, they have the size.

Individually, they have the desire.

And together, they hope to become special

– Jason Brummond