Verbal commits: do they ever stop? If you're the Iowa football team, the answer right now appears to be "no." For the fifth-straight day since Friday, Iowa picked up a new verbal commitment. The only difference with this one? He's from even farther in the future than Iowa's recent commits. Over the last two weeks Iowa has added ten recruits to its 2020 class, as well as another recruit to its 2021 haul. And as of Tuesday, Iowa's also picked up a commitment from their first Class of 2022 recruit:
As we reported earlier, Class of 2022 in-state DE Aaron Graves (6-4, 230) has committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Last year, as a freshman, Graves had 67 tackles, 15 TFL, and 11 sacks at Southeast Valley. He is Iowa's first 2022 commit.— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) June 25, 2019
Yes, that's right: Class of 2022. That means Graves is currently a high school freshman -- or, rather, that he just finished his freshman year. Graves still has three more years of high school football to play before he sets foot in Iowa City. Of course, one look at his physical attributes (6'4", 230 lbs) and his stats (67 tackles, 15 TFL, 11 sacks) and you start to understand why Iowa was so intrigued by him. That is pretty incredible size for a kid who's just a freshman in high school -- by comparison, Parker Hesse was listed at 6'3", 205 lbs and Anthony Nelson was listed at 6'6", 210 lbs when they committed to Iowa. That's also some pretty impressive production for a guy playing in his first year of varsity football. Graves' potential is clearly very high.
As a Class of 2022 recruit, Graves hasn't been ranked by Rivals or 247Sports (they've only just started handing out rankings to a few 2021 prospects). He also doesn't have any offers beyond Iowa. There's always a concern with commitments this early in the process about whether or not they'll hold up -- there's another 2.5 years to go until Graves can officially sign a letter of intent, after all -- but Graves is from small-town Iowa (Gowrie, IA, which is near central Iowa) and, per a Rivals interview with his head coach, an Iowa offer has been his dream and top priority. If he ends up developing into a monster prospect down the road, maybe things get interesting in his recruitment, but for now he seems like a good bet to stay in the fold.
Iowa is projecting Graves as a defensive lineman for now, but that's clearly in flux, since he won't even be on campus at Iowa until fall 2022, over three years from now. Given his size already and his big frame, I'd say there's potential for him to potentially develop into an offensive tackle. But, again, that's a question for a few years down the road.
Check out some highlights of Graves in action below:
My main takeaway? Holy hell, I can't believe that's a 14-15 year-old in action. Side note: Graves plays for Southeast Valley, which is a 2A school in Iowa. He is going to put up some absolutely monstrous numbers over the next three seasons. Pity the poor kids that have to block him (or get blocked by him, since he also plays offensive line for Southeast Valley). Right now Graves appears to be all speed and power, which is fine because he has plenty of it dominate. Speed and technique can be taught and refined; physical gifts like the ones Graves has can't.
Welcome to Iowa City, Mr. Graves. We'll see you in a few years.