Iowa recruiting mailbag: Assessing backup options to round out class
Have Iowa football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Iowa recruiting mailbag to discuss Hawkeyes recruiting. This week, we’ll discuss the how Iowa fills out its Class of 2018 and break down the recent 2019 offers.
What are Iowa’s backup recruiting options in 2018?
— Several concerned Iowa fans
The Hawkeyes would prefer that linebackers Jayden McDonald and James Miller fill out their 2018 class. Neither is a sure thing.
If forced to move on, Iowa has a backup plan. It always has a backup plan, but isn’t tipping its hand on where it will go for a Plan B.
In the Class of 2017, Nate Wieland was the obvious next linebacker on the recruiting board when top linebacker prospect Thomas Johnston selected UAB over Iowa.
There is no obvious name this year, but Ankeny (Iowa) Centennial offensive lineman Trey Winters visited Iowa on Monday. He doesn’t hold an offer, but he is a name to remember if McDonald or Miller go elsewhere. Iowa also could give a scholarship to one of its walk-ons in the Class of 2018.
Iowa, by my count, has 8 2018 LBs (walk-ons included). Will any change positions?
— Andrew Jones
It’s actually nine. Waukee (Iowa) High School’s Jake Morrison announced he’s walking on since Andrew sent this tweet. For some of the walk-ons, sure, a position change is possible down the road. Iowa won’t move a scholarship linebacker. It’s a position of need in the class.
The walk-on linebackers are a lot like lottery tickets. The Hawkeyes are loading up and hoping that one hits and becomes a contributor at an inexperienced position. If they’re lucky, a walk-on turns into Bo Bower, a multi-year starter.
The best bets to make an impact as walk-ons are former Iowa Western Community College linebackers Colton Dinsdale and Nick Anderson. They are older, more physically mature and hoping to replicate the success their former junior college teammate Nick Easley had in his first season at Iowa.
Any new offers out for 2019?
— Joe Johnson
Yes, plenty. Iowa has spent most of January sending out offers to prospects in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes. Here is a recap of the most recent offers and seven takeaways, including an old recruiting territory starting to make a comeback.
Is it a problem Iowa is offering so many players with big-time offers?
— Joe Williams
It’s not so much a concern as it needs to come with managed expectations. Let’s take 4-star 2019 offensive lineman Zeke Correll as an example. Iowa recently offered the Ohio native, who holds several offers from major programs, including Ohio State.
The Hawkeyes aren’t a favorite to land Correll, but he’s a big lineman who moves well. He’s just what Iowa wants and looks like a potential difference maker.
When Iowa offers a prospect a year or more before he signs, the player needs to significantly stand out. It’s usually through size, athleticism or playmaking ability.
These players are closer to being complete products. They tend to be some of the higher-caliber players that the Hawkeyes offer. This also is the kind of player the Buckeyes will offer.
To an extent, it’s part of doing business when trying to land impact players. If all of Iowa’s offers fell into this category it would become a problem.
Identifying some top-shelf talent and seeing if there is a legitimate shot at a commitment is a worthwhile gamble early in the recruiting process. If the prospect shows interest, great. Iowa may end up with one of the top players in its class. If not, move on. There is plenty of time left to find other prospects.
How has Iowa changed recruiting methods in recent years?
— Jeff Schulz
Iowa has gone back to its recruiting fundamentals. Attrition became a problem for the Hawkeyes. Just look at how many players left from the Class of 2013.
The Hawkeyes have put more emphasis in recent years on landing the kind of players who typically thrive under coach Kirk Ferentz.
Intangibles matter nearly as much as on-field traits. The Hawkeyes are trying to identify players with strong work ethics, blue-collar mentalities and room to develop. This Land of 10 story from last year details exactly what a Ferentz recruit is and how the Hawkeyes go after them.
Have a question about Iowa recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10Iowa and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Iowa recruiting mailbags here.