And, lo, a recruit did once again say "yes, I would like to be an Iowa Hawkeye." After a recruiting drought of several months, Iowa football has added another committment to the foldin the form of DE Daumantas Venckus. Like Iowa's other verbal commitment this week, Greg Mabin, Venckus is a Florida kid, hailing from Cypress Bay in Weston, FL. Rick Kaczenski has been a busy little beaver lately.
Venckus takes the term "unheralded recruit" to new levels: neither Rivals, nor Scout, nor 247 Sports, nor ESPN has a rating for him yet. I don't think he'd even been mentioned as a possibilityfor Iowa by any of the recruiting services until he verbaled to Iowa. That said, he did have offers from other D-I programs (Navy, Colorado State) and interest from a handful of others, so he's not exactly the biggest reach we've ever seen. He'll probably be a 2* recruit from all the services when they do get around to grading his film.
Beyond having a fabulous name that will undoubtedly cause Dolph no end of pronunciation woe, Venckus is intriguing because he comes at a position of immense need for Iowa: defensive end. Per Morehouse, he's put up good stats in his first year at defensive end (he was formerly a tight end, which makes him feel even more Iowa-y):
He has 70 tackles and 12 sacks through 10 games, along with three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception he returned 57 yards for a touchdown.
Unfortunately, he's almost certainly not going to be able to provide instant relief at that position. He's listed at 6-4, 200, which is not exactly Big Ten-sized. He's looking at a few years of toil in the Doyle mines before he sees the field, in all likelihood.
The more curious aspect of Venckus' recruitment is what -- if anything -- it says about the state of Iowa's recruiting this year. Adding an unheralded 2*-ish kid like Venckus is not at all uncommon for Iowa, but he's usually the sort of name that pops up in late January or early February when the coaches are trying to fill the last few slots in a class. If he's signing on now does that mean Iowa's striking out with other, more high-profile targets? Maybe, maybe not. The recruitniks still seem to think Iowa sits in decent/good shape with several quality recruits, so perhaps Venckus' commitment is just an oddly-timed aberration. But if it's not and Venckus' commitment portends a class filled out with mostly unknown 2* project-types, it might be time to get concerned. Obviously, stars aren't the be-all, end-all and Iowa's had great success with many 2* types in the past, but there's a reasonthose guys are 2* types: they're a gamble. Some of them will develop into highly productive players, but many of them will flame out. And as we've seen this year, when you have too many flameouts, it puts your football team in an incredible bind.