Wagner considering staying at Iowa, but keeping options open
One day after announcing plans to switch from college basketball to playing college football, Ahmad Wagner addressed the other big question.
Is there any chance he still will be performing for the University of Iowa?
It’s something Wagner admitted he is considering. He said on a teleconference with reporters Wednesday that the Iowa football staff has reached out to him. And his friend James Daniels, a fellow Ohio native who played football at Iowa the past three years, already has tried to nudge him toward remaining a Hawkeye.
But Wagner is considering just about everything right now.
“At this moment I’m just taking in any consideration of someone that will give me a chance,” he said. “I’m listening to anyone that wants to give me the opportunity to play for their organization.”
There would be obvious advantages to just remaining at Iowa and continuing on in a different sport. He would not need to sit out a year under the NCAA’s transfer rules and could play right away next fall, retaining two full years of eligibility.
If Wagner transfers to another Football Bowl Subdivision school, he would be forced to sit out next fall and begin his football career as a fifth-year senior in 2019. If he transfers to a lower-level school, he could play right away.
“I am comfortable with Iowa,” he said. “They’ve always treated me well, everyone here, the coaching staff, everyone has been wonderful since I’ve been at Iowa. That’s always important.
“Everything is going to go into consideration when I make my decision. Sitting out, being able to play right away, all of that is going to go into it with wherever I sign. Staying at Iowa and not being subject to the transfer rule is definitely something I would consider, but I’m considering all options right now.”
Wagner earned first-team all-state honors in his only year of football competition as a senior at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio, so this move has been a topic of frequent speculation.
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound junior admitted it’s something he has thought about for some time.
“I didn’t want to focus on making the switch until after the (basketball) season, but it’s been on my mind,” he said. “It was kind of hard to ignore with people always asking about football. I always wanted to stay committed to the Iowa basketball program, and that’s what I did.”
Wagner said he already has had brief conversations with a few schools but said all inquiries are being funneled through the Iowa basketball office and his parents. He said he’s also leaning heavily on his high school basketball coach, Travis Trice, for guidance.
He said he plans to take his time making a decision and has not set any sort of timetable for himself.
He said every school he has spoken to has noted how many former basketball players have successfully made the switch and ended up having long careers in the NFL. The list includes likely future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, current NFL stars Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates and Chicago Bears rookie Adam Shaheen.
All those players are tight ends. Although Wagner has prototypical tight end size, he said the only position he ever has played is wide receiver.
“But if a school thinks I have a better chance of being successful at tight end, I wouldn’t be opposed to that,” he said. “I’m really just listening to people’s professional opinions, where they see me fitting best. I really feel wide receiver is my natural position, but I’m not opposed to playing tight end.”
Wherever he ends up, Wagner said he is on pace to earn a degree a year from now.
He added that he has no regrets about his three-year basketball career at Iowa, in which he averaged 3.1 points and 2.6 rebounds in 96 games.
“Coach (Fran) McCaffery and his staff have treated me with nothing but respect since the day I walked on campus here and before that when they recruited me,” Wagner said. “I have no regrets about coming here. I’ve enjoyed all my time playing for the men’s basketball team. No regrets at all.”