As Iowa's 2020 recruiting class has continued to fill in, there's been one notable absence: tight end. Well, sort of -- Iowa has already picked up a verbal commitment from Elijah Yelverson, a very good TE prospect with arguably the best offer sheet in Iowa's 2020 class and they added two tight ends in last year's class (Josiah Miamen and Sam LaPorta; Logan Lee, who was recruited as a possible tight end, is instead going to start out at defensive end). Still, Iowa loves them some tight ends and when you're coming off a season where you had the John Mackey Award winner and not one, but two tight ends selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, well, you want to capitalize on that momentum. Earlier this week, Iowa did just that:
Lachey, listed at 6'7", 220 lbs, is a consensus 3* recruit. He chose Iowa over offers from (deep breath) Wisconsin, LSU, West Virginia, Nebraska, Michigan State, Minnesota, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, and most of the MAC. Pretty good list there! Fun fact: Lachey is also an Ohio State legacy -- his father, Jim Lachey, was an All-American offensive guard for the Buckeyes in the '80s.
Per Hawkeye Report, Lachey cited the culture at Iowa as a key factor in his decision to commit to the Hawkeyes, as well as the relationships we made with some of Iowa's other commits (Lachey was part of Iowa's huge recruiting weekend a few weeks ago):
"I'd say the culture they have there is what really helped me make the decision," Lachey told HawkeyeReport.com. "I’d also say the bond that I made with the players and the other commits really pushed me there as well."
Of course, Iowa's success at the tight end position (particularly when it comes to getting them ready for the NFL), especially recently, is an impossible factor to ignore as well. On paper, Lachey appears to match up well with Fant and Hockenson:
The 2 @HawkeyeFootball TE 1st round 2019 NFL draft picks both played basketball & did track & field in HS. Lachey is same body type & has better high jump than Fant/Hockenson plus runs 200m, 400m, 4x200, & 4x400. 4.7/5.0 PAI is better than 98% of B1G TE in @TrckFootball database https://t.co/c5Fp7QshpF— Brian Spilbeler (@CoachSpil) July 11, 2019
And his video displays plenty of promising ability as well:
Just went through hudl highlights from Lachey, Iowa's new TE commit ; big frame w/plenty of room to grow; lines up at WR & CB; shows elite ball skills & excellent body control; outclasses his level of competition, impressive run after catch instincts & has solid long speed— Hawkeye Gamefilm (@hawkeyegamefilm) July 11, 2019
Check out his highlights below:
It's not hard to see why Lachey was a priority recruit for Iowa after watching even a few minutes of those highlights. He already looks and moves like an Iowa tight end. Taking a short pass on a tight end screen and turning it into a big gain? Check. Running a long route downfield for a big gain? Check. Going up to make a difficult catch along the sideline? Check. Boxing out a defender for a touchdown catch? Check. Showing some moves as a kick returner? Che -- er, wait. That's a new one. I don't think Lachey will ever return kicks at Iowa unless he fields one as an up man, but his ability as a returner still shows off his elusiveness in the open field and his quickness. I don't think he's quite as fast as Fant or Hockenson (at least at his top end), but he's definitely not slow -- and those guys (as well as their immediate predecessor, George Kittle) also improved their speed at Iowa. The biggest question mark for Lachey looks like his blocking; he's been more of a receiver than a true tight end in high school so far. As we know from past experience, he'll need to be a decent blocker to get on the field at Iowa. But if he can pick that up relatively quickly, there's no reason to think that he won't be able to contribute early in his Iowa career.
Welcome to Iowa, Luke.