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Eno Benjamin's de-commitment from Iowa was one of the biggest surprises in Hawkeyes recruiting.

Iowa recruiting mailbag: Breaking down the the biggest recruiting surprise

Have Iowa football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. This week, we’ll discuss Iowa’s biggest recruiting surprise since Land of 10’s inception, 2019 needs and freshmen who could see playing time in 2018.


What was your biggest surprise you saw in Iowa recruiting with Land of 10?
— Jeff Schulz

Four big ones immediately come to mind. The first happened last week when the Iowa and Jirehl Brock relationship disintegrated out of nowhere.

One day, Iowa was considered a favorite. The next, his official visit to Iowa was off and the Hawkeyes were out of the Brock sweepstakes. It’s rare to see a recruitment swing 180 degrees, seemingly out of nowhere, the way it did in this case.

Iowa landing a 4-star quarterback his high school coach compared to John Elway so late in the 2018 recruiting cycle still amazes me. It was extremely lucky that a quarterback with Spencer Petras’ skill set was still available when Iowa flipped him from Oregon State in December.

Another major surprise involved 2017 linebacker Thomas Johnston. Iowa was in the running to land the Alabama 3-star prospect. He took official visits to Iowa, Auburn, Arizona State and Mississippi in December 2016 or January 2017.

Then, he signed with UAB to play with his brother Tyler Johnston III. Seeing the Blazers land Johnston was a major upset.

Finally, the Eno Benjamin de-commitment situation in 2016 was by far the largest surprise. This was the recruiting equivalent of a nasty high-profile Hollywood divorce that spilled into the tabloids. There was plenty of he-said, he-said at play with both parties claiming poor treatment by the other.

There is no need to rehash the argument. It was all covered at the time.

It’s best for everyone that Benjamin ended up at Arizona State. He probably wouldn’t have fit in well with the Iowa culture coach Kirk Ferentz cherishes.

The Benjamin-Iowa fiasco was about as messy as a de-commitment gets. That’s why it’s the biggest recruiting surprise with Land of 10.

What’s the situation with Nick Henrich?

— Adam Feller

There hasn’t been a whole lot of news from 2019 4-star Nebraska linebacker Nick Henrich recently. In the last month, he took an official visit to Wisconsin and an unofficial visit to Nebraska. Henrich took an unofficial visit to Iowa in April.

Henrich has said he wants to make a decision before his senior football season. There isn’t a need for Iowa at linebacker with two 2019 commits, but Henrich is the type of prospect a program is more than willing to wait on because of his athleticism and immense potential.

What is the biggest position of need in the next class?

— Matt LaCasse

There honestly isn’t one after Iowa landed commitments from offensive lineman Justin Britt, defensive end Jalen Hunt and defensive back Dane Belton coming out of the big official visit weekend from June 22-24.

The Hawkeyes still need a running back, but it’s not a concern at this point. Yes, fans wanted Jirehl Brock, but Iowa is in good position with several prospects, most notably with Tyler Goodson (North Gwinnett/Suwanee, Ga.). Iowa is one of three finalists for Goodson, who is scheduled to announce his decision in July.

How many recruits will Iowa sign in 2019?

— Joe Williams

The exact size of a class is always a moving target. So much depends on transfers following the season. A safe number is 20, which would include a few transfers. As it stands, the Hawkeyes have room to add a few more players to the 13 commits they already hold for 2019.

Which, if any, of these recruits will see immediate playing time next year?

— Matthew Devick

There is a chance for several. Iowa isn’t shy about playing first-year player. Virtually any defensive back could play as a freshman. Iowa is in need of a nickel back, and an impressive camp could land a newcomer on the depth chart. Julius Brents, Dallas Craddieth and D.J. Johnson are the favorites to play right away.

Wide receiver is a lot like defensive back. Anyone showing the ability to help this year likely will play. Keep an eye on Tyrone Tracey. He profiles as a slot receiver and has a knack for making plays in space. He brings a unique skill set to the position. If he adjusts to college football quickly, he’ll play this season.

There is plenty of playing time available at linebacker — both as a starter and as a backup. The newcomers could find their way onto the depth chart and contribute on special teams. Dillon Doyle is a name to watch at linebacker.

The new redshirt rule, which allows a player to play in four games without losing his redshirt, gives every signee the chance to play in 2018. Without this change it’s extremely unlikely quarterback Spencer Petras sees the field. Now, he could play and still redshirt.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more newcomers play right away than in years past because of the rule change.

Finally, this is the last mailbag before Land of 10 closes up shop. I want to thank everyone for providing so many great questions to the mailbag over the last year. The reason it was as good as it was is because of you. So thanks for making the mailbag so much fun every week.

Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Iowa recruiting mailbags here.