Hey! National Signing Day (or, technically, the first day of the early signing period) was yesterday, so let's take a look at who Iowa signed for their 2021 football recruiting class. We'll look at the offensive side of the ball first, then the defense.
(all images via @HawkeyeFootball)
Broadview Heights, OH (Brecksville-Broadview Heights HS)
6'3" | 190 lbs
Rivals: 3* (5.6) | 247: 3* (0.869) | ESPN: 3* (74)
Other Significant Offers: basically the entire MAC
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Joey Labas
The Skinny: Iowa likes to get a quarterback in every recruiting class to keep the numbers up given the regular attrition at the position (Labas will give Iowa four quarterbacks heading into 2021, or three if Spencer Petras, Alex Padilla, or Deuce Hogan opt to transfer out during this offseason). Labas was their guy this season. Quarterback commits tend to either happen very early in the recruiting cycle (if you hit on one of your top choices) or very late in the cycle (if you don't). Labas committed last summer, relatively late process, choosing Iowa over a bevy of MAC schools. Labas' Ohio origins and MAC-heavy recruitment brought lots of Ricky Stanzi comparisons; getting Stanzi 2.0 would be a win for Iowa at this position. Labas completed 68% of his passes as a senior and threw for 2349 yards and 16 touchdowns against three interceptions.
ARLAND BRUCE IV
Athlete (Running Back/Wide Receiver)
Olathe, KS (Olathe North HS / Ankeny HS)
5'10" | 192 lbs
Rivals: 3* (5.7) | 247: 3* (0.880) | ESPN: 3* (79)
Other Significant Offers: Iowa State, Tulsa
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Arland Bruce
The Skinny: Bruce had one of the stranger senior seasons of any player this past fall. Originally from Kansas, he transferred to Ankeny to play this season when football was postponed back home, but he wasn't able to play in Iowa, either, until a protracted battle with the IHSAA was resolved. But he was highly productive in the seven games he did play in helping lead Ankeny to a state championship: 660 yards rushing, 451 yards receiving, 13 touchdowns. He projects as a slot receiver, but also as a guy that Iowa can use in multiple ways. Adding him to some of the wildcat looks we saw this season with Tyler Goodson and Tyrone Tracy, Jr. is a very intriguing possibility. Bruce is also enrolling early at Iowa, so he'll have the opportunity to go through practice with them this spring and summer (COVID permitting), which ought to boost his chances of seeing the field early in his Iowa career.
Ankeny, IA (Ankeny HS)
6'4" | 200 lbs
Rivals: 3* (5.7) | 247: 3* (0.866) | ESPN: 3* (74)
Other Significant Offers: Iowa State, Nebraska, Kansas State
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Brody Brecht
The Skinny: Brecht was one of many Iowa-Iowa State recruiting battles in the Class of 2021 and one of the most satisfying victories for Iowa. The state of Iowa doesn't produce a lot of highly-regarded talent at the wide receiver position, so getting a guy like that in the program is a coup; getting him out of central Iowa and away from Iowa State is even more satisfying. Brecht and Bruce teamed up to lead Ankeny to a state championship this year, with Brecht hauling in 12 touchdowns and 599 receiving yards. Unlike Iowa's other receiver prospects, Brecht has size (6'4", 200 lbs), which should pencil him in for the outside receiver role, soon to be vacated by Brandon Smith. Brecht is also a big-time baseball recruit and plans to be a double-sport athlete at Iowa and play for the Iowa baseball team as well.
Bellevue, NE (Bellevue West HS)
6'1" | 188 lbs
Rivals: 4* (5.8) | 247: 4* (0.892) | ESPN: 3* (78)
Other Significant Offers: Iowa State, Nebraska, Kansas State
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Keagan Johnson
The Skinny: Losing Thomas Fidone to Nebraska stung, since he was an in-state recruit (well, to the extent we consider Council Bluffs a part of Iowa...) at a position Iowa has excelled at (tight end). But getting Keagon Johnson, a Cornhusker legacy recruit out of Bellevue, NE, makes up for that a bit -- especially because Johnson is one of the best-regarded receiver recruits Iowa has landed in quite a while. The last Rivals 4* (or better) receiver Iowa picked up was Keenan Davis. Kelton Copeland has done good work with guys like Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette; it's exciting to consider what he might be able to do with a guy who, at least in the eyes of the recruiting services, has even more potential. Johnson hauled in 10 touchdowns and 735 yards receiving in just seven games as a senior. Johnson simply looks explosive -- he has a smooth running stride, runs crisp routes, is elusive in the open field, and seems to have good hands. Like Bruce, Johnson is also an early enrollee, which will give him additional practice time and increase the odds of seeing the field sooner rather than later.
Cedar Rapids, IA (Cedar Rapids Kennedy HS)
6'6" | 285 lbs
Rivals: 4* (5.8) | 247: 4* (0.914) | ESPN: 4* (80)
Other Significant Offers: Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan State, Iowa State
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Connor Colby
The Skinny: Iowa's class is pretty strong overall, but the best part of this class is probably in the trenches, where Iowa landed some excellent offensive line prospects. The first of those young maulers-in-training? Local kid Connor Colby, who committed to Iowa all the way back in June of 2019. Colby absolutely manhandled opponents at the point of attack for Cedar Rapids Kennedy and he has plenty of size and strength before even getting to the Iowa weight room. Refining his technique will probably be the main thing he needs to do to have a chance for early playing time.
Winnetka, IL (New Trier HS)
6'6" | 290 lbs
Rivals: 4* (5.8) | 247: 4* (0.936) | ESPN: 4* (82)
Other Significant Offers: Ohio State, Michigan, LSU, Wisconsin, Oregon, Penn State
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, David Davidkov
The Skinny: As noted, the strength of this recruiting class is the OL, and the strongest prospect in that unit is Davidkov. He was Iowa's top recruit in all three major services, he had a list of offers a mile long, and Iowa had to beat a blue blood (Michigan) to win his services. Davidkov was swayed to Iowa by the program's excellent reputation for developing linemen and turning them into future NFL players; it's definitely exciting to see that reputation paying big dividends on the recruiting trail. Davidkov is another recruit who plans to enroll at Iowa early. It's wise to bet against any true freshman playing on OL at Iowa, but it has happened occasionally -- usually when the player is too freakishly gifted to keep off the field (see: Wirfs, Tristan and Daniels, James). Davidkov already appears to have the size to compete at the Big Ten level and his skills are no slouch, either -- we gushed about him utterly destroyed defenders when he verbally committed to Iowa last spring. Davidkov figures to be a name we'll see before long in the trenches and on the two-deeps.
Lena, IL (Lena-Winslow HS)
6'5" | 290 lbs
Rivals: 3* (5.6) | 247: 3* (0.874) | ESPN: 4* (80)
Other Significant Offers: n/a
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Gennings Dunker
The Skinny: Dunker is the least-heralded of Iowa's OL recruits (at least per Rivals and 247; ESPN likes him as a 4* prospect), but that doesn't mean he's not a solid addition. His recruiting was likely somewhat muted by the fact that he committed to Iowa long ago (early June 2019) and stayed firm to that commitment over the last 18 months. The state of Illinois forgoing a fall football season also curtailed opportunities for him to boost his stock as a senior. Dunker is another big, powerful hoss-in-training for Iowa to mold and while he might need a bit more seasoning than some of the other OL prospects Iowa added in this class, he still looks like a strong addition to this class.
Blue Springs, MO (Blue Springs HS)
6'6" | 305 lbs
Rivals: 4* (5.8) | 247: 4* (0.892) | ESPN: 3* (77)
Other Significant Offers: Texas A&M, Michigan, Missouri, Ole Miss, LSU, Indiana
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Beau Stephens
The Skinny: The fourth and final member of Iowa's 2021 recruiting class is another stud, rated a 4* prospect by both Rivals and 247. Like Davidkov, Stephens had a host of high-major offers and picked Iowa over the likes of LSU, Michigan, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, and West Virginia (as well as the usual midwest suspects like Minnesota, Iowa State, and Kansas State). Stephens, like Colby and Davidkov, already looks the part and has plenty of size and strength. They could form the foundation of some powerful Iowa offensive lines in the not-too-distant future. Plus, how can you not love a guy who says his Biggest Sports Thrill is "big hits"?