National Signing Day 2021: Iowa Defensive Recruits Round-Up

By RossWB on December 17, 2020 at 8:12 pm
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@HawkeyeFootball (Twitter)

And now part two of our round-up of Iowa's 2020 recruiting class, focusing on the defensive side of the ball. (You can find part one, on the offensive recruits, here.)

(all images via @HawkeyeFootball)


Defensive Line
West Branch, IA (West Branch HS)
6'5" | 242 lbs

Rivals: 3* (5.6) | 247: 3* (0.869) | ESPN: 3* (78)
Other Significant Offers: Indiana, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Iowa State, Minnesota
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Jeff Bowie

jeff bowie

The Skinny: Bowie is a five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time gold medalist at the AAU Jr. Olympics? Goodness. We know he's got track and field chops. But he's coming to Iowa to play football -- and he's not too bad at that, either. Bowie had 11 tackles for loss and four sacks for West Branch in an abbreviated senior season and he's going to bring that ability to make plays from the edge to Iowa's defense. I don't think he's a contender for early playing time, but Iowa will have a big need on the defensive line next year, so anyone who can produce could get a chance. 


Defensive Line
Bettendorf, IA (Bettendorf HS)
6'3" | 275 lbs

Rivals: 3* (5.6) | 247: 3* (0.868) | ESPN: 3* (77)
Other Significant Offers: Army, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa State, Minnesota
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Griffin Liddle


The Skinny: What's the one thing Iowa coaches love the most in a potential lineman (even more than short arms)? A high school wrestling background. And Liddle, the son of a former Iowa wrestler, is one of the top high school wrestlers in Iowa (the defending 3A state champion at 285) and a nationally-ranked heavyweight prospect. That bodes well for future success in the trenches at Iowa. Liddle was another recruit who committed to Iowa early in the process (over a year ago) and wasn't swayed by offers from the likes of Army, Nebraska, or Iowa State. And, come on, how could he? He has two dogs named Kinnick and Carver. That's a man destined to be a Hawkeye. 


Defensive Line
Urbandale, IA (Urbandale HS)
6'5" | 230 lbs

Rivals: 3* (5.7) | 247: 3* (0.880) | ESPN: 3* (76)
Other Significant Offers: Penn State, Missouri, Michigan State, Iowa State, Nebraska
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Max Llewellyn


The Skinny: Max Llewellyn's recruitment blew up after his junior season, but his recruitment came down to another in-state tussle between the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones and, well, it's a Hawkeye State for a reason, folks. Llewellyn seems like a quintessential high-upside recruit. At 6'5", 230 he doesn't have the size to see the field in anything but a situational pass rush role yet, but once he adds some size he could ready for a starring role rather than just cameo appearances. He already shows good pass rush instincts, solid quickness, and great closing speed when he gets into the backfield, though he'll need to continue working on his pass rush repertoire; he won't be able to blow past guys at the Big Ten level. He might not be ready next season, but it could soon be time for Iowa's defense to take it to the Max.


Defensive Line
Arlington Heighs, IL (Saint Viator HS)
6'2" | 260 lbs

Rivals: 3* (5.6) | 247: 3* (0.867) | ESPN: 3* (78)
Other Significant Offers: Wisconsin, Boston College, Michigan State, Missouri
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Jeremiah Pittman

j pittman

The Skinny: Pittman's recruiting stock blew up after a strong showing at one of the last in-person recruiting showcases before COVID-19 put a halt to those events. He picked up offers from a good chunk of the Big Ten, as well as suitors as far flung as Boston College and Texas Tech, before settling down with Iowa in May. Pittman played inside and outside on the defensive line in high school -- and saw a few snaps as a short yardage back (!) -- so he's got a lot of positional versatility. His ultimate future seems to be somewhere on the defensive line, but we dearly hope Iowa lets him have a few plays as a BEEF BACK, just so we can see him pulverize opponents in short yardage situations.


Urbandale, IA (Urbandale HS)
6'2" | 220 lbs

Rivals: 3* (5.7) | 247: 3* (0.872) | ESPN: 3* (77)
Other Significant Offers: Nebraska
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Jaden Harrell

jaden harrell

The Skinny: It's not at all necessary in a recruit, but it's always a fun wrinkle when they were childhood fans of Iowa. Getting to parlay that dream into actually playing for Iowa is the sort of wish fulfillment most of us can only dream about. Jaden Harrell is one of those childhood Hawkeye fans and his fandom is legit, as evidenced by this: 

Give 'em hell, Jaden. Harrell is a linebacker prospect from Urbandale who jumped on an Iowa offer when it came his way earlier this year. As a senior, Harrell had 45.5 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two fumble recoveries. Linebacker might be a difficult position to crack in the immediate future, given Iowa's increasing reliance on the 4-2-5 formation and presence of exciting young linebackers like Jack Campbell, Jestin Jacobs, and Jay Higgins. Special teams look to be Harrell's best shot to see the field in the near term, but we'll definitely be rooting for him to make an impact. 


Eden Prairie, MN (Eden Prairie HS)
6'2" | 225 lbs

Rivals: 4* (5.8) | 247: 4* (0.904) | ESPN: 4* (81)
Other Significant Offers: Minnesota, Nebraska
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Justice Sullivan

justice sullivan

The Skinny: Sullivan's had quite an odyssey to become a touted football recruit -- born to poverty in Ghana and adopted by former Iowa State basketball star Jake Sullivan at 10 years old, raised in Iowa and, eventually, Minnesota -- but he flourished once he started playing football. On the field Sullivan became a 4* recruit by virtue of his quickness and tackling ability. He split time in high school between linebacker and edge rusher, which could make him an intriguing tool for the Iowa defense. He'd need to add size to become a full-time defensive end in the Big Ten, but if he stays at linebacker his pass rush skills could make him a good weapon in blitz schemes. Sullivan seems like a prospect that Iowa's defensive coaches may do a little battling over. 


Iowa Falls, IA (Iowa Falls Alden HS)
6'3" | 205 lbs

Rivals: 2* (5.4) | 247: 3* (0.831) | ESPN: 3* (76)
Other Significant Offers: UNI, South Dakota State
What We Said Before: n/a

k sharar

The Skinny: Sharar was the last commit in Iowa's 2021 class, an addition so recent (he committed last weekend) that we didn't even get a chance to write up a profile on him before Signing Day. He's also a quintessential late recruiting period pick-up for Iowa: a lightly-recruited, undersized in-state kid who flips to Iowa from a MAC or FCS school right before Signing Day. Sharar checks all those boxes. He benefited from actually being able to play a senior season in the fall, where he had a productive campaign for small school Iowa Falls-Alden. He ran for over 1100 yards and 13 touchdowns on offense and had 80.5 tackles (9 TFL) on the defensive side of the ball, which is where his Iowa future lies. Sharar likely needs a few years in the weight room and time to acclimate to the speed of the college game before he sees the field much at Iowa -- but we said the same thing about Seth Benson a few years ago, and he played extensively this past season. You never know! 


Athlete (Linebacker)
Story City, IA (Roland-Story Community HS)
6'3" | 225 lbs

Rivals: 3* (5.6) | 247: 3* (0.863) | ESPN: 3* (76)
Other Significant Offers: Iowa State
What We Said: Have a Seat, Zach Twedt

z twedt

The Skinny: I wrote a whole story and he just... Twedt'd it out. Twedt chose a less-direct (but more satisfyingly trolling) path to Iowa City, initially committing to Iowa State before seeing the error of his ways and flipping to the cooler, funnier, and better-looking Hawkeyes last November. As a prep Twedt did a little bit of everything -- running back, wide receiver, tight end, linebacker, safety, kick returner -- so your guess is as good as mine where he ultimately ends up as a player at Iowa. For the time being he seems penciled in as a linebacker, where his quickness and hitting ability seem like definite assets.  


Athlete (Safety)
Ida Gove, IA (Battle Creek-Ida Grove HS)
6'2" | 198 lbs

Rivals: 3* (5.7) | 247: 4* (0.892) | ESPN: 3* (75)
Other Significant Offers: North Dakota State, UNI, South Dakota State
What We Said Before: Have a Seat, Cooper DeJean

cooper dejean

The Skinny: Confession time: I am a sucker for a football players like Cooper DeJean, the hyper-athletic, do-everything types that excel in high school football because the gameplan is just "give them the ball and let them make plays." Those types often flourish at small schools, where the talent gap between them and the other players on the field is significant. Case in point: Cooper DeJean, who in addition to being an excellent football player is also an all-state talent in basketball and track. DeJean played basically every snap for OABCIG in leading them to back-to-back state championships over the last two seasons. The numbers he put up this year -- in a COVID-shortened season, no less! -- were ridiculous: 3,447 yards passing (61% completion), 35 TD/9 INT, 1,235 yards rushing, 24 touchdowns, 53.5 tackles (2 TFL), 3 intercpetions, and 3 special teams touchdowns. Oh, and he can punt, too. SWOON. Those types of players don't always make it -- in DeJean's case the leap from 2A football in Iowa to the Big Ten is, uh, considerable -- but Iowa's had a lot of success with guys like this, especially in the defensive backfield, where DeJean is currently slated to play at Iowa. We're not going to be surprised if DeJean's name pops up on the safety two-deeps before long. 

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