Scott Dochterman/Land of 10
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff are working on their 2019 class.

Iowa recruiting mailbag: Finding right playmaker for 2019 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 playmaking priorities in the Class of 2019.

I know it’s not fun to hedge on answers to these questions, but I think we may need to wait until the season unfolds to figure out the greater priority. Iowa’s wide receivers are young and evolving. If sophomores Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith make strides and, say, Tyrone Tracy is as electric as I think he can be, then maybe wide receiver is in decent shape. Likewise, if AIRBHG (Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God) returns to strike the running back position, then that position will be vital on the recruiting circuit.

As for which offensive skill player I think is a must-get, I’d go with Quincy (Ill.) junior Jirehl Brock. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Brock has the physical frame and the ideal speed and quickness for the position in Iowa’s offense. I’d say he compares favorably with former St. Louis prep star and current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Brock, who is rated as a 4-star prospect by Rivals, lives about 30 miles south of the Iowa border along the Mississippi River, about a two-hour drive from Iowa City. That’s roughly the same distance as Des Moines from Kinnick Stadium. The only Power 5 campus located closer to Brock is Missouri, by about 15 miles. As expected, most of the Big Ten schools in the region have targeted Brock. So far, Iowa is in decent position.

Here are Brock’s highlights. He operates in the Wing-T, which places him about 3 yards closer to the line of scrimmage than from where he’d work at Iowa.

 

I think Iowa is doing a better job of streamlining what it wants in recruits. Some players from outlying areas didn’t fit in Iowa’s culture and they quickly transferred. The attrition numbers were high because the Hawkeyes didn’t seem to find the right kind of players in places such as Texas, Florida and the East Coast.

The last three recruiting cycles have featured players who fit what Iowa wants in players. Not only have the coaches done a much better job of identifying players who fit the scheme, they have found prospects with the right intangibles. That’s a major credit to linebackers/assistant defensive coordinator Seth Wallace, who was the recruiting coordinator through the 2016 class.

As for some of the higher-ranked players Iowa has landed recently, recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell deserves some kudos. He never had recruited Indianapolis before taking over for Jim Reid in early 2016. Bell quickly caught up, built great relationships with wide receiver Tyrone Tracy, cornerback D.J. Johnson and defensive back Julius Brents and saw it through. All three could be impact players this fall for Iowa.

Usually you know within three years how a recruiting class has shaped up. If a third of the spring depth chart is made up of players entering their third year on campus, you should be doing OK. Of course, that’s no way to determine whether the players are starters by default or if they’re any good.

Using that logic, let’s examine the 2016 class. Iowa picked up some clear winners with quarterback Nate Stanley (26 touchdown passes last season), left tackle Alaric Jackson (freshman All-American), tight end Noah Fant (11 receiving TDs), tight end T.J. Hockenson (24 catches, 3 TDs) and safety Amani Hooker. Probable starters this fall include defensive tackle Cedrick Lattimore, running back Toren Young, cornerback Manny Rugamba and linebacker Nick Niemann. Linebackers Amani Jones and Kristian Welch are contending for starting slots while Shaun Beyer figures to contribute heavily at tight end.

So far there’s little attrition with only player leaving (Lance Billings) and that was shortly after he arrived on campus in June 2016. There likely will be a departure or two after spring drills, but Iowa has kept the class together. It’s producing and has big-time potential. We’ll see if it pays off this fall.

New offers

Several underclassmen visited Iowa last weekend as part of its junior weekend. Several walked away with scholarship offers, before and during the festivities.

Here’s a look at the prospects who recently tweeted their scholarship offers.

 

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.