Who likes tight ends? The fans of Magic Mike, the patrons of Chippendales clubs -- and your Iowa Hawkeyes. On Wednesday Iowa picked up a verbal commitment from Indiana tight end Anthony Torres to further their plans of creating an all-tight end offense:
— Anthony Torres (@a_torres1299) July 12, 2017
Torres, a 6'6", 235 lb prospect from Mishawaka, Indiana, gave his verbal commitment to Iowa during an on-campus visit on Wednesday. Torres is considered a 3* recruit by Rivals, 247 Sports, and Scout (ESPN has yet to rank him) and chose Iowa over offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, UCF, Air Force, and a host of MAC schools and FCS teams.
Torres is the second prospect in Iowa's 2018 recruiting class listed at tight end, although the first who's expected to remain at the position. (Recent commit Jack Plumb is being groomed to be an offensive lineman.) That said, Torres doesn't really have a huge track record at tight end, at least when it comes to pass catching -- he hauled in just 11 receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown. So what caught the attention of Iowa coaches? That would be his blocking skills. Even as a high school junior, Torres shows sign of being a willing -- and tenacious -- blocker. He uses his size, strength, and footwork to erase opposing defenders from plays and delivers more than a few pancake blocks.
Blocking skills are essential for playing time at tight end at Iowa and Torres certainly seems to check that box. His pass-catching skills don't look bad in those clips, although there just isn't too much to go on, frankly (he averaged less than a catch per game last year). Hopefully he can continue to develop his skills in that department. (And while he's being earmarked as a tight end at Iowa, not a future offensive lineman, his frame and blocking ability mean we probably shouldn't entirely rule out that possibility.)
It will be very interesting to watch Torres' development during his senior season because, per Rivals, he's leaving Mishawaka Penn High School to play his senior season at the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. I don't recall too many Iowa recruits playing there, but his skills could certainly develop rapidly down there. Of course, IMG Academy is a very high-profile location and recruits there tend not to stay under the radar, so if Torres does blow up as a senior, he could start attracting attention from a lot more suitors this fall. (On the flipside, perhaps he can do a little recruiting for Iowa while he's down there and put in a good word for the Hawkeye among the recruits down there...)
Iowa added three tight ends in their 2016 recruiting class (Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, and Shaun Beyer) and one a year ago (Jacob Coons), so they've been hitting the position pretty hard in recruiting lately. They also have Nate Vejvoda, who's just a sophomore, and Drew Cook (also a sophomore) moved to tight end during spring practice; the cupboard appears pretty well restocked at tight end right now. That's good because tight end is obviously an extremely important position in the Iowa offense (we routinely run two-tight end sets and have even toyed with three-tight end sets at times in the past) and there was a small lull for a few seasons after Iowa recruited guys like Henry Krieger-Coble and George Kittle (though it didn't help that the top tight end Iowa recruited during that stretch, Jon Wisnieski, has had to deal with multiple injuries in his Iowa career). Given the sheer number of tight ends ahead of him on the depth chart, it could be a little while before we see Torres take the field for Iowa; a redshirt in 2018 seems likely and he may have to wait his turn a bit after that. On the other hand, his strong blocking skills may open up a pathway to playing time if any of the incumbents at tight end struggle at blocking (their top blocking tight end, Peter Pekar, is set to graduate after the 2017 season).
Welcome aboard, Mr. Torres.