After players started to enter to the transfer portal in the wake of Iowa’s loss to Nebraska back in November, fans joked if head coach Kirk Ferentz even knew how to use the transfer portal. And, well, the humor was warranted — and it’s still the “wild, wild west.”

But Kirk’s foraged through the murky lands of college football’s free agency like Lewis and Clark explored west of the Mississippi. “Portal Kirk” lived up his new nickname. Whether it’s legendary tangents, or big-time pickups, Kirk Ferentz knows how to use the transfer portal — and used it perfectly.

And now he’s lured the highest rated high school wide receiver in the program’s history — one that had offers to play for Alabama and Ohio State. Kaleb Brown, a freshman who had chosen the Buckeyes, announced Thursday he was committing to Iowa following his visit.

Brown, a four-star recruit coming out of St. Rita High School in Chicago, was the 78th ranked overall player in the 2022 recruiting class by 247 Sports. Ultimately, he was buried under the depth chart in Columbus last year — and the same would’ve likely happened in 2023. Brown had just one catch for five yards, in 27 snaps last year.

What does this mean for Iowa? A paper-thin receiving corps already dealing with injuries just got a massive boost. Sixth year senior Nico Ragaini is the only sure thing, and he’s not even healthy. Junior Diante Vines is healthy, but only has 10 career receptions in 12 games. Sophomore transfer Seth Anderson was the Big South’s freshman of the year at Charleston Southern — but he hasn’t even practiced yet.

Iowa had the 123rd best passing offense in 2022. The Hawkeyes’ seven passing touchdowns were fewer than all but three teams. And Kirk Ferentz has addressed those issues in the transfer portal, with this move serving as the icing on the cake.

Let’s revisit Iowa’s offensive portal acquisitions following Brown’s commitment:

QB: Cade McNamara, Deacon Hill

WR: Seth Anderson, Kaleb Brown

TE: Erick All

OL: Daijon Parker, Rusty Feth

Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz said that he “did the best he could with the pieces that we had” back in December. The pieces are better, and it’s time to put together a much better puzzle.

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