There are still finishing touches to put on Iowa's 2022 football recruiting class, but that doesn't mean Iowa can't also work ahead on the 2023 recruiting class, too. That's precisely what they did this week, landing a verbal commitment from a pretty big fish in the process -- 4* QB Marco Lainez.
Lainez, listed at 6'3", 225 lbs, hails from The Hun School in Princeton, NJ. He's ranked a 4* prospect by both Rivals and 247 Sports and he selected Iowa over offers from Michigan State, Illinois, Maryland, Pitt, and West Virginia, as well as smaller schools like Princeton and Penn. 4* ranking? Some legit offers from other P5 schools? Alright, alright, alright. We like where this is going.
Officially, Lainez is labeled a pro-style QB by both Rivals and 247 Sports, but he doesn't seem to quite fit the mold of the large, statue-esque, and mostly immobile pocket-passer QBs Iowa has had in recent years like Nate Stanley and Spencer Petras. His QB coach, Tony Racioppi, who has also worked with Stanley and Petras in recent years, had this to say about his ability as a runner in an interview with Hawkeye Report:
He's got really quick feet and can be a threat in the run game, so they can do some more zone read stuff if they want to and then they've obviously always run bootlegs and nakeds but now he's more of a threat to run especially in short yardage and in the red zone.
The Rivals assessment of Lainez backs that up:
Lainez is a very good athlete and shows the quickness to be a real threat as a ball carrier.
As do the stats -- Lainez ran for 512 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 12 ypc this past season. Iowa may or may not use Lainez on many designed run plays -- it's no secret that hasn't been a big part of Iowa's offense in, uh, a very long time -- but having a QB with some mobility and ability to pick up yards when plays break down could still be extremely valuable. Iowa's best offenses under Kirk Ferentz have tended to feature QBs who were either legitimate running threats (Brad Banks) or at least competent scramblers (Drew Tate, CJ Beathard). If Lainez can tilt Iowa's offense back in that direction, well, that would be a definite improvement.
Of course, a quarterback's main job is to throw the ball and Lainez was very good at that as a junior. He finished 95/117 (81%) for 1735 yards, 21 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. That level of accuracy, coupled with a stunning 15 yards per attempt average and an ability to avoid turnovers, is awfully exciting. As Rivals said:
Impressive stats for the New Jersey quarterback and the film backs it up. Lainez's athleticism and arm strength pop off the screen. He shows the ability to keep his eyes down field while defenders break through the offensive line and can throw accurately on the run. Lainez can adjust the trajectory of his throws when needed and can throw with touch or power.
You can check out his film and draw your own conclusions, too:
There's plenty to get excited about there. Iowa hasn't had a quarterback with Lainez's skill set in some time. There are plenty of other questions that will still need to be resolved with the Iowa offense -- the scheme, the play design, the play calling, the development of the offensive line -- but adding a good QB can also help solve a lot of offensive ills. We'll have to wait a bit to see if Lainez can help solve those problems -- he still has another year of high school to go and wouldn't be available to play in an Iowa game until Fall 2023 at the earliest -- but we don't make taking a big drink from the pool of hope in the meantime. Recruiting is all about selling hope for the future, and Marco Lainez looks like the biggest source of offensive hope Iowa has secured in quite some time.
Welcome to Iowa City, Marco -- we can't wait to see what you can do here (in a few years).