Iowa fans should be excited about what the 2023 class has in store for the future. The Hawkeyes currently have 12 commits and the class is ranked No. 19 nationally by 247Sports.
Of course, one of the headliners in Iowa's 2023 class is 6-foot-2, 220 pound quarterback Marco Lainez III out of the Hun School in Princeton, N.J. According to 247Sports, Lainez is a three-star commit, the nation's No. 22 quarterback and the No. 7 player from New Jersey.
Rivals also ranks Lainez as a three-star commit, but the service grades him a little bit higher and as the No. 14 quarterback in the 2023 class. Lastly, On3 lists Lainez as a three-star commit, the nation's No. 26 quarterback and the No. 6 player from New Jersey.
The senior-to-be committed to the Hawkeyes on Dec. 13, 2021, and has kept that pledge to Iowa following former quarterbacks coach Ken O'Keefe's decision to step away in February.
Lainez joined the From the Hawkeye of the Storm podcast to discuss a wide-ranging list of topics. The future Hawkeye said that he's actually looked to Iowa's past for one of his game's biggest influences, patterning himself after former Hawkeye great quarterback Brad Banks. That will no doubt have Iowa fans feeling some kind of way. Perhaps a bit nostalgic and equally electrified.
It's an excellent interview with host Cory Brada and Hawkeye fans will want to sit down and watch the entirety of it. Here's the full interview with Lainez and some of the items and quotes that caught our attention attached below.
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One of the questions that every Hawkeye fan would want to know. What is it about the Iowa Hawkeyes that appealed to Lainez?
"If I could describe Iowa in one word, it would probably be family. It just felt like home when I went out there. In the building, there's just a culture that I haven't found anywhere else. Everybody's there for each other and it's family oriented. It's not so much everybody is out for themselves.
"Everybody cares about the success of other people. When you're lucky enough to be presented with a place that cares about your success but then also the team success as an overall, overarching theme and then also caring about other players' success-like how can I help you be the best version of you that you can?-I mean, that's a match made in heaven," Lainez said.
Sticking with the Hawkeyes after Ken O'Keefe stepped down as quarterbacks coach
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen
Others might have backed out of their commitment when the quarterbacks coach that they committed to stepped down. It reinforced for Lainez that Iowa was where he wanted to be.
"When Ken stepped away, when coach O'Keefe stepped away, he called me before the news went public and that kind of attested to the people they are. They don't (expletive) if I can say that. They really helped ease any suspicions I had of the recruiting landscape. It just felt like I was home and I was talking to the real person, 100 percent, because I know some days in this day in recruiting, a lot of people say stuff, but they don't really mean it.
"I felt like every word that came out of coach Ferentz, coach Brian Ferentz's mouth, they 100 percent mean it. Honesty is the number one policy that we need or that I value in my life. These guys are giving me honesty. They're going to tell me when I stink and when I'm doing good, so that's one thing that I really liked. And then, I met coach (Jon) Budmayr when I went out there for an unofficial, and same exact way. I was like, I don't see a difference," Lainez said.
How he feels Brian Ferentz will help his development
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Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is taking over O'Keefe's duties as the Hawkeyes' quarterbacks coach. Lainez discussed why he's confident in Ferentz helping his development.
"He has a lot of experience in the NFL and then also he's been at Iowa for an extended period of time. His father's the head coach there and I've just been real close with him ever since I committed and I'm starting to really like his philosophy. He also played in the NFL, so that's my ultimate goal, and he has a lot of knowledge about it and he has a lot of knowledge about offensive-minded people.
He didn't play quarterback, but he has a lot of knowledge about the way a read should go, the way a play should go, a line scheme should go, reading coverages. I believe he can firmly help my development, you know, helping me develop into the quarterback I want to be just by being around him as much as I can. Because he seems like the person that, despite all the criticisms from other people, they don't know what he's all about. And what he's all about is winning at the end of the day and making me the best player and developing the quarterbacks to be the best they can be and that's all you can ask for. My time getting to know him, I really see myself running through a wall for him," Lainez said.
Influence of the Hun School, quarterback coach Tony Racioppi
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Lainez credited his growth as a quarterback to Hun School head football coach Todd Smith and Hun School assistant coach and Test Football Academy coach Tony Racioppi.
Of course, Racioppi works with current Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras, former Hawkeye signal-caller Nate Stanley and now-Pittsburgh Steeler Kenny Pickett.
"We were talking about what's going to get me to the next level. We obviously knew Tony and he has a plethora of connections and all that stuff, but, you know, we made the decision for myself and my family that it would be best for me to transfer to Hun. Who really got me to do that was coach (Todd) Smith, who's my head coach.
"Those two are really one of the most influential people I've ever met in my life. You know, coach Smith has really helped me accomplish my goals. He's told me what I need to do from a leader standpoint, mental standpoint to get to be the leader I need to be of a team," Lainez said.
In addition to the coaching he receives from Racioppi at Hun School, Lainez trains with Racioppi outside of the high school season.
"And then, I met Tony, I started training with Tony. I spend, I'm literally in his hip pocket all the time. So he's my quarterback coach also at Hun, so I get the whole offseason with him and then I train with him during the season. He teaches me everything from reading fronts, to reading coverages, to also just giving me advice about life.
"He's really become almost like a father figure in my life. I call him Uncle Tony. He's really been that type of person for me. He's so knowledgeable about the game as well as coach Smith. Those two are probably the most knowledgeable people I've ever met about football in my life and they've carried me from my sophomore year once I transferred to where I am today. I can't thank them enough," Lainez said.
Lainez passed for 1,735 yards and 21 touchdowns against just two interceptions last season. Again, he attributes that jump in his play to each of these two coaches.
Brad Banks is someone Lainez patterns his game after
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Lainez said his favorite superhero growing up was Hawkeye and his dad introduced him to Iowa football when he was little. It wasn't until he started receiving interest from the Hawkeye coaching staff that he found film of one of the players he idolizes the most.
"I always loved Iowa, but they were on the other side of the country from us, so I never really got to know them. But then, you know, when I started looking into the richness of the program when I heard like I could be recruited by Iowa, I've always loved mobile quarterbacks and I came across Brad Banks.
"This was probably in the summer and I was like, 'This kid, this guy's amazing.' And, one of his 70-yard runs, I forget who it was against, but I was just like, 'I really like the way this guy plays.' He can throw the ball a mile, but he can also run and make guys miss. And I was like, 'I want to be like that this season.' I mean, not to say it didn't translate, but it helped me a lot. I ran for 512 yards. It was a really good person to compare to, because he was just making plays. I just loved watching him and I was like, 'I want to be like that,'" Lainez said.
In fact, Lainez recently asked Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz about possibly getting in contact with Banks.
"Yeah, one hundred percent. I even talked to coach Ferentz about it the other day. I was like, 'You know, they say never meet your heroes, but would there ever be a possibility I could get in touch with him?' And he's like, 'Yeah, sure, we got you.' So, we'll just have to see how it plays out," Lainez said.
Goals for the 2022 season
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen
Lainez's goals for 2022 are pretty simple. He wants to win and he wants to be the best version of himself yet. But, to hear him tell it, he just sounds so advanced for his age.
"Well, in my eyesight right now, I would really like to go undefeated again this year with my team and also just being better than I was last year. I did really well last year, but I just want to see how good I can become. That's the quest I do every day. How good can I become this year, every day? How can I make myself better today? So, I definitely want to see how good I can be this year, and then also, as the leader of my team now, how can I get the other guys on my team to motivate them to be the best they can be, so that we can win. The end goal is winning. That's all that matters. No matter how we get there. If I hand the ball off 90 times a game, or if I throw the ball 100 times a game, I'm okay with it as long as we win. That's my number one goal. Go 11-0 this year. When you win, everything else takes care of itself.
"And then when you get to Iowa, I just want to see how good I can become. How good can I become with those guys there? How can they develop me into the best quarterback I can be? And then also, how can I give back to the community there, how can I be a role model on and off the field for other people there? And then, how can I, most importantly, give back to my parents who sacrificed so much for me?" Lainez said.
What he will add to Iowa football
Lainez left fans with exactly what they would want to hear. What will he bring to Iowa that's unique and will make the Hawkeyes' offense better?
"I think the best way to answer that is I like to make plays, whether that be with my feet or my arm. I never really like to give up on a play. Now, I know that there's a difference between making a smart decision and also a (expletive) decision like scrambling and throwing it across the field, like that's not what you're supposed to do.
"But if I can get 15 yards with my legs, I definitely think that's the ability I can do. Now, intangibles-wise, I just want to win. Whether that be handing the ball off or throwing the ball, we just got to find a way to win. Not only for me, but for the community, people of Iowa, you got to find a way to win for them. That's what I bring," Lainez said.
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