I have a general rule in how I look at recruiting: Offers matter. Other coaches aren't all-seeing and all-knowing, and Iowa has certainly ushered its fair share of under-the-radar recruits to the top of the depth chart, but affirmation of Kirk Ferentz's calls from other coaches doesn't hurt.
— Elijah Yelverton (@yelverton2002) April 12, 2019
That's why the Friday morning commitment of 2020 tight end recruit Elijah Yelverton matters. On its face, Yelverton looks like a somewhat typical Iowa recruit: Three stars from all the scouting services, borderline-Top 500 guy nationally. Good frame (6'5", 225 pounds), good numbers, from a well-known Texas high school football program (Dallas Bishop Dunne). All of that is fine.
What's not fine -- what's way better than fine -- is the list of programs Iowa beat for Elijah's signature. Because, at least according to Rivals, he held offers from TWENTY-NINE Power Five programs. That list included LSU (which he visited twice), Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oregon and Arizona State. He was offered from coast to coast.
Yes, beating a whole boatload of really good teams for a recruit is great, but it's that "Tight End U" at the end of Yelverton's announcement that really makes this art. For some reason, Iowa has always struggled to turn NFL positional success into a recruiting advantage. For a decade, Kirk Ferentz put tackles in the NFL, and yet, as recently as five years ago, his program was converting interior linemen and walk-ons into starters at the position. The same went for Phil Parker's unbelievable track record at defensive back and, yes, Iowa's success at tight end. Iowa doesn't generally get that much national publicity; in most years, the NFL Draft is usually the best public relations boost the program gets between January 1 and September 1. Converting that to recruiting success has not always been easy.
But if Yelverton's three-word explanation means anything, it looks like Iowa beat that boatload of quality programs for his signature because T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant are headed to the Draft in a few weeks. And for a high school football player with big aspirations trying to distinguish between 29 programs all throwing a scholarship his way, the program that just put two three-star tight ends into the first day of the NFL Draft is as good a reason as any.
The task for Iowa moving forward is to take Tight End U and add Cornerback U and Defensive End U and Offensive Line U and all the other U's to the stable. But for today, welcome to Iowa, Elijah Yelverton. It's always a great day to be a Hawkeye.