The naming of Brian Ferentz as offensive coordinator and Iowa “playing” in the Outback Bowl has wholly overshadowed what is really important to Iowa football fans: being creepy. We haven’t talked a great deal about Iowa football recruiting as of late because, well, Iowa hasn’t done anything on the recruiting front worth talking about. In fact, since August they’ve only secured one commitment: a 2-star wide receiver from Wisconsin.
Things were a lot different in early October. Along with A.J. Epenesa, Iowa had commitments from other 4-star players, including running back Eno Benjamin and cornerback Chevin Calloway. Additionally, 3-star wide-receivers Beau Corrales and Gavin Holmes highlighted a class that was thin on skill position players.
And then it all fell apart.
Eno Benjamin took a visit to another school and eventually decommitted (there’s more to that story but that’s the CliffsNotes version). Chevin Calloway made it official in early November that he was no longer committed to Iowa, though that was probably clear in September when he took visits to other schools. Beau Corrales and Gavin Holmes were next to fall, with Corrales saying he chose too early and Holmes decommitting due to how Iowa handled the Eno situation. The Texodus, as we’ll call it as these four hailed from the Lone Star State, dealt Iowa a severe blow in the recruiting department.
Since that time, the only commitment Iowa received was from 2-star wide receiver Max Nelson, who was originally committed to Central Michigan but flipped his verbal to Iowa. This brought Iowa’s recruiting class to 14, where it currently sits as of January 11th, 2017.
You might be surprised to hear that historically, 14 isn’t a low number for Iowa football. In 2013, 2014 and 2015 they had exactly 14 recruits heading into November and they filled out the remainder of the class with a lot of 2-star and 3-star (primarily 2-star) recruits before signing day.
The class is made up of one 4-star recruit, 12 3-star recruits and one 2-star recruit. Rankings wise, per Rivals, they sit at 54th in the nation and 12th in the Big Ten. The class is made up of one 4-star recruits, 12 3-star recruits, and one 2-star player. Again, this is about par for the Hawkeyes. Over the past five seasons, they’ve ranked as high as 42nd in the nation and 6th in the Big Ten to as low as 59th in the nation and 13th in the Big Ten. On average, they’ve ranked 50th in the nation and 9th in the Big Ten since 2011.
Position wise, here’s how the class breaks down:
QB: Peyton Mansell
RB: Ivory Kelly-Martin
WR: Max Cooper, Brandon Smith
TE: Jacob Coons
OT: Tristan Wirfs, Mark Kallenberger
DE: Coy Kirkpatrick, A.J. Epenesa, Levi Duwa
DB: Djimon Colbert, Camron Harrell, Matt Hankins, Josh Turner
Based upon the offers and commitments to the former Texas players, it’s clear that Iowa was hoping to bolster their offensive talent in the coming years. That didn’t happen, so now they’re having to look elsewhere. Here’s a list of some of the remaining top targets for Iowa. This list is obviously non-exhaustive:
Oliver Martin, WR, West, IA: The 3-star Iowa City native and US Army All-American is one of Iowa’s biggest targets. He holds offers from Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Wisconsin. 247’s Never Accurate Crystal Ball has him 59% to Notre Dame, no chance to Iowa.
Thomas Johnston, LB, Spanish Fort, AL: The 3-star linebacker took an official visit to Iowa back on December 3rd and has offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Arizona State and Ole Miss. 247’s Never Accurate Crystal Ball has him 33% to Auburn, 22% to Iowa.
Jon Lovett, RB/ATH, Burlington, NJ: The 3-star running back took a visit back in November and has offers from Michigan State, Rutgers, and Penn State. 247’s Never Accurate Crystal Ball has him at 42% to Rutgers, 33% to Iowa.
Zamari Maxwell, CB, Largo, FL: The 3-star cornerback took a visit back in September and it sounds like it’s down to Iowa or ISU. Also has offers from UCF and Kentucky. 247’s Never Accurate Crystal Ball has him 60% to Iowa.
The scholarship distribution tells us that the Hawkeyes should look for wide receivers, (as their current roster will almost be entirely juniors), tight end (because who is going to play tight end for Iowa) and linebacker (because Iowa could use actual athletes at linebacker once every century).
You don’t have to be a recruiting expert to see that Iowa needs skill position players. Their offense was dreadful in 2016 and the naming of a new offensive coordinator won’t magically make players bigger, stronger or faster. Locking down Martin would be a good sign for the state of Iowa Football in the actual state of Iowa, getting a running back from New Jersey never hurts (see: Greene, Shonn or Young, Albert) and Johnston and Maxwell are talented defensive recruits.
Signing day is Wednesday, February 1st. This is usually the time that Iowa scrambles to put together a heap of spare parts and call it a recruiting class. Let’s hope that they try something a little different this time and lock down the big names that people are excited about.