IOWA CITY, Iowa — Recruiting can be as much about the prospects a team simply goes after as the ones it ultimately lands. That is certainly the case with Iowa’s Class of 2017 and a series of de-commitments from the Hawkeyes.
Every team has swings and misses on the recruiting trail and Iowa wasn’t immune this year. Here is a recap of some of the players Iowa went in on but couldn’t sign, and how the class of 2017 looks without them. All rankings are from 247Sports composite rankings.
Eno Benjamin, 4-star RB, Wylie (Texas)
Benjamin looked to be one of the crown jewels of Iowa’s class when he committed last April — a 4-star back talented enough to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
His recruitment began to turn ugly after he started visiting other programs without always informing the Hawkeyes. He would de-commit in October and later took to social media to explain his side of the situation.
Iowa always wanted two running backs in the class, with 3-star prospect Ivory Kelly-Martin committed alongside Benjamin. The Hawkeyes did add 3-star RB Kyshaun Bryan on Monday.
Benjamin will bring all the tools a team wants out of a playmaker to Arizona State. On the flip side, both Iowa running backs bring plenty of potential. For the Hawkeyes to end up in a better position than they appeared before Benjamin de-committed, they’ll need at least one of the backs to turn into a LeShun Daniels or Akrum Wadley — a 1,000-yard rusher capable of carrying the offensive load.
Chevin Calloway, 4-star CB, Dallas
Calloway committed to the Hawkeyes in July, took an in-season visit to Nebraska in October and de-committed from Iowa in November. Within a month of his de-commitment, he received multiple visits from Arkansas coaches. Calloway ultimately signed with the Razorbacks.
Like Benjamin, Calloway contains the skill set every coach wants at his position. But unlike Benjamin, gauging Iowa on this one isn’t as tied into one player. The Hawkeyes are brought in six potential defensive backs. Safety Geno Stone and Trey Creamer, who isn’t tied into a position, but could end up at cornerback, came aboard after Calloway de-committed.
If Iowa is to end up in a better position without Calloway, it will need its class of defensive backs to make an impact and produce multiple starters. Because of the sheer volume of players in the class there are good odds it could happen.
Beau Corrales, 3-star WR, Georgetown (Texas)
Iowa bought low on Corrales, securing a commitment before he caught 90 passes for 1,158 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. But the Hawkeyes weren’t able to cash in on finding a diamond in the rough.
The Texas product de-committed over the program’s no-visit policy for commits in November and ended up at North Carolina.
Wide receiver was always going to be a focus of this class regardless of the de-commitments. The play of Iowa’s receivers this past season assured that. The Hawkeyes were able to secure commitments from Max Cooper, Henry Marchese and Ihmir Smith-Marsette since December. Iowa needs more from its wide receivers. Getting production from the class is a necessity and not just to ensure things work out because Corrales went elsewhere.
Juan Harris, 3-star DT, Janesville (Wis.)
The Harris recruitment was as odd as they seem to come. He de-committed from the Hawkeyes three times in the span of 18 months.
The 6-4, 368-pound Harris brings the ideal size to defensive tackle, but odds are the Hawkeyes may not miss him. Iowa brought in three defensive lineman and it appears to be one of the strongest position groups in the class.
His series of de-commitments could very well indicate that Harris might not have been the perfect fit for coach Kirk Ferentz and his program if he ended up in Iowa City, anyway. The Hawkeyes will get an up close look at how Harris develops in college — he’s already enrolled at Indiana.
Gavin Holmes, 3-star WR, Justin (Texas)
As it did with Corrales, Iowa got in early on Holmes. And just like with Corrales, the Hawkeyes aren’t in a position to be rewarded for their efforts.
Holmes caught 83 passes for 1,545 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’ll now try to replicate that production at Baylor. He de-committed from Iowa over the no-visit policy in November.
Everything that applies about Iowa at wide receiver without Corrales does for Holmes. Getting production from the signees isn’t as much about thriving without the de-commits as it about Iowa needing more from the position to improve the offense.
Oliver Martin, 4-star WR, Iowa City
Unlike the other names on this list, Martin never committed to Iowa.
Martin, though, is a player in the team’s backyard, from Iowa City West High School. He is a polished receiver and, like Benjamin, a different caliber recruit than anyone else Iowa was after. He appeared capable of stepping in as a true freshman and helping out the Hawkeyes at a major position of need.
Instead, he’s heading to Michigan. Martin’s situation is a little bit different from the wide receiver de-commits. He never was an Iowa pledge, but he was one of the top targets in the class. What will it take for Iowa fans to be comfortable with missing out on him? Seeing one of the wide receivers the Hawkeyes did get turn into Wadley, an under-recruited prospect that became a legitimate Big Ten star, would probably do it.