Sure, caring is creepy. That's why we generally leave it to the Rivals/Scout guys. But once their signature goes on the dotted line of an Iowa letter of intent, caring ceases to be creepy and becomes essential. So, without further ado, your objects of affection and/or scorn (sometimes both at the same time) for the next four or five years. Next up, the guys in the defensive backfield:
(again, don't forget to check out all the highlight videos at the GoHawks Signing Day blog.)
QUINTON ALSTON (6'1", 220)
Timber Creek Regional (Sicklerville, NJ)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (79)
We should probably send a thank you note to Pitt for helping us land Alston. He committed to the Wannstache last summer, but after seeing Wannstedt "resign" and going through a total of three coaches in the span of a month, he apparently had enough and called it quits with the Panthers and soon hooked up with Iowa. So thanks for being a hot mess, Pitt. Alston had a huge list of offers from BCS schools (including Boston College, Louisville, Stanford, Purdue, Pitt, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). A knee injury kept him from playing in many games as a senior, but as a junior he had 80 tackles, 4 sacks, and 12 tackles for loss. Alston projects as a middle linebacker, which is interesting because that's the same position that Melvin Spears also projects to play -- not to mention the same spot that James Morris could have on lockdown for the next three years. Something's going to have to give there.
2011 Outlook: The linebacker depth chart is fairly wide open in 2011, so there's a chance that Alston could crack the two-deeps. He also seems like a good bet to feature on coverage units on special teams.
Fun Fact: Owns every Jason Statham movie on DVD -- except In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, because it sucks.
TORREY CAMPBELL (5'11", 183)
Barron Collier (Naples, FL)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (78)
Along with space-eating-yet-athletic defensive tackles, cornerbacks are probably the toughest defensive position to recruit, which could make Campbell one of the most valuable recruits in this class. He's got the dreaded "athlete" designation and most of his highlights feature him running the ball, but the plan is for him to be a defensive back at Iowa. Indeed, his offensive touches steadily decreased (from 159 carries as a sophomore to 73 as a junior to just 37 as a senior) at Barron Collier as he transitioned to a full-time defensive player. Campbell doesn't quite have ideal size (he probably needs to be a few inches taller for that), but he measures up favorably with most of Iowa's current corners and he appears to have the one thing that's always useful in a cornerback: speed (he has an alleged 40 time of 4.34 and is also a promising track athlete (a career he intends to pursue during the offseason at Iowa). And you can never have enough speed (although you can, in fact, have enough Sandra Bullock).
2011 Outlook: He may not be able to crack the two-deeps unless he picks up the ins and outs of the cornerback position quickly, but with his speed and explosiveness he seems like a good bet to feature on special teams, either as a return man or in coverage units.
Fun Fact: Has a pet macaw named Ignatius.
* Once again, we failed to recruit any centaurs. Dammit.
MARCUS COLLINS (6'0", 215)
Monsignor Bonner (Yeadon, PA)
2* Rivals, 2* Scout, UN ESPN (45)
It's not every day that you get to poach a recruit from Stony Brook. Take that, Seawolves! (That mascot doesn't even make sense: wolves can't live in water. Unless they developed gills and OH SHIT THEY'RE SOME SORT OF SUPER-PREDATOR IF THEY EVOLVE WINGS WE'RE TOTALLY FUCKED.) Collins also had an offer from Army and, indeed, was headed to the Black Knights until Iowa swooped in with an eleventh-hour offer to head to Iowa City. Consequently, we don't really know much about him. He's not very big (he's more safety-sized, in fact), but he has a fake 40 time in the 4.4-4.5 range so he brings some much-needed speed to the position. In a Rivals interview, Spears said the coaches were looking at him for outside linebacker, which could prove handy in defending those pesky spread teams and their multiple wide receivers. If we're going to continue to roll out linebackers to defend those guys, we might as well send out some 'backers with speed.
2011 Outlook: Linebacker recruits are prime special teams candidates, but it's hard to see him working his way into the two-deeps until he bulks up a little -- he's just asking to get trucked by a Big Ten running back at his current size.
Fun Fact: Takes a two-week family trip every summer to partake in some good old fashioned bear baiting.
COLE FISHER (6'2", 195)
Safety / Linebacker / Hybrid Safetybacker-Type Thing
Millard North (Omaha, NE)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 2* ESPN (74)
Like Collins, Fisher appears to be a man without a position just yet. He played free safety in high school and he's listed as a defensive back on the Hawkeye Sports breakdown, but he was slated to be an outside linebacker when he verballed last summer and was apparently even told he was the No.1 linebacker on Iowa's 2011 recruiting board. Size-wise, he seems a little slight to be a linebacker just yet. Still, with that build and fake 40 time (4.6), linebacker is probably in his future once he grows into the position. He chose Iowa over an offer from Kansas and interest from Nebraska and Stanford; the decision to turn his back on Nebraska was a little interesting given his family ties there. His father was a walk-on there in the '80s and his brother is there now, meaning you can look forward to a few "Farmageddon: this time it's personal" fluff stories when the Iowa-Nebraska games roll around over the next few years. Then again, it's not much of a choice if one school is offering you a full-ride scholarship and the other isn't (yet). He also hails from Millard North, the same Omaha school that sent Seth Olsen, Jeff Tarpinian and, um, Adam Shada to Iowa.
2011 Outlook: He seems like a prime candidate to redshirt.
Fun Fact: As a teenager, he had a part-time job as a camel wrangler in Omaha's secret underground camel racing scene.
NICO LAW (6'1", 180)
Bishop McNamara (Clinton, MD)
3* Rivals, 4* Scout, 3* ESPN (77)
Ah, Nico Law. He's barely been a Hawkeye (officially) for 24 hours and he's rapidly becoming a fan-favorite (or at least a BHGP favorite). Having a catchy name certainly helps, as does his efforts as a recruiter for Iowa (we owe Nico some thanks for his efforts to convince two other Marylanders, Lomax and Cooper, to sign with Iowa). And being a tremendously productive player doesn't hurt -- he had 106 tackles (31 tackles for loss), plus four interceptions while splitting time between corner and safety. Oh, and he had three touchdowns as a receiver -- dude's a playmaker. All that is nice, but there's no doubt that a key source for all the Nico love is his outreach to Iowa fans via his Twitter account and, of course, his radio show. Oh, his radio show. It was equal parts hilarious, awkward, surreal, endearing, and uncomfortable -- but it was pretty damn captivating (and you can get some sense of it by checking out the thread we had going during the show last night). For those of us still nursing a DJK-shaped hole in our Hawkeye fandom, Nico seems to fill it pretty damn well. In related news, he's also the odds-on favorite to land himself in Ferentz's doghouse by the end of August. That said, if Law can stay in KF's good graces and pick up the defensive schemes quickly, it's not outrageous to think that he could be in the mix at one of the safety spots. The depth chart there is wide open with the departures of Greenwood and Sash.
2011 Outlook: As noted, he could be in the mix at either FS or SS and he's another guy who figures to see early playing time on special teams.
Fun Fact: Thinks it's fucking criminal that David Fincher got an Oscar nomination for The Social Network but not Zodiac.
JORDAN LOMAX (5'10", 185)
DeMatha (Upper Marlboro, MD)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (78)
The second of Iowa's pair of DeMatha prospects (and the third in the last two years, after Marcus Coker's arrival a year ago), Lomax was another recruit who made a late decision to be a Hawkeye. Lomax had verballed to Virginia many (many) months ago, but got cold feet as signing day approached and bolted in December. A month's worth of black-and-gold sweet talk from his friend and fellow Marylander Nico Law paid off with Lomax deciding to verbal to Iowa on Monday. If you go by the recruiting services, it's unclear where Lomax projects in college -- Rivals lists him as an athlete, Scout has him as a safety, and ESPN tabs him a cornerback -- but based on various comments and his listing on Hawkeye Sports, cornerback is in his future. He's a touch smaller than Campbell, but like him he's got very good speed (fake 40 time in the 4.40 range). Iowa's prioritized speed in its secondary recruits over the last few years, which is very welcome. Like Campbell, Lomax could work his way into the two-deeps at corner (possibly as a nickel back), but seems most likely to make an early impact on special teams.
2011 Outlook: Special teams coverage units seems likely, with the possibility for more if he's a quick study.
Fun Fact: His favorite dinosaur is Ankylosaurus and he thinks having a tail would be pretty badass.
MELVIN SPEARS (6'2", 224)
Allen (Allen, TX)
3* Rivals, 3* Scout, 3* ESPN (79)
We like Spears a lot, mostly because "Spears" is an awesome name for a linebacker (although spearing is frowned upon by the refs, so always remember proper tackling technique, young Melvin) and his first name allows us to make all sorts of references to stoner rock and sludge metal. So that's a big fat win right there. Unlike some of the other linebacker-types in this class, Melvin's no tweener. He looks like a linebacker (big and terror-inducing), smells like a linebacker (kind of earthy aroma with a hint of dried blood), and quacks like a linebacker (don't ask)... so he's probably a linebacker. More specifically, he's an inside linebacker: he's big, thick, and ideally suited to stuffing the run. In other words, a quintessential Big Ten linebacker. There could be a slight problem in that he seems to fighting for the same spot as Quinton Alston and James Morris, so we hope this isn't Jacody Coleman Part Deux, but that's a problem for down the road. Right now, Spears looks like a big, mean linebacker who loves to hit fools -- and that'll do.
2011 Outlook: Special teams coverage units seem like an ideal place for Spears to get his feet wet.
Fun Fact: Thinks Angel Dust is a much better album than The Real Thing.
JOHNNY LOWDERMILK (6'2", 190)
Linebacker / Safety / Bandito
Carrolton (Kensington, OH)
2* Rivals, 2* Scout, 1* ESPN (67)
Lowdermilk (who, frankly, bears an uncanny resemblance to Brandon Wegher with bleached hair) hasn't been officially added to the Hawkeye Sports recruit listing yet, but all indications are that the hang-up in his commitment has everything to do with weather and technology issues and nothing to do with any wavering on his part. Like Collins, Lowdermilk emerged, like the proverbial alpaca, out of fucking nowhere. Lowdermilk's father was an Ohio State legacy who played in the NFL for a half-dozen(ish) years. So why isn't he a Buckeye-to-be today? Well, mostly because they didn't offer him a scholarship. Considering that Iowa was the only high-major school to offer him (his other choices were Kent State, Miami (OH), Air Force, Youngstown State, and Fordham), it probably didn't take much arm-twisting to get him to say "yes" to playing here, although it didn't hurt that his dad thought Ferentz was the bees' knees after briefly getting to know him in the NFL. Like half the supposed linebacker recruits in this class, Lowdermilk is a total tweener who might play either LB or S in college, depending on need and how his body responds to weight-training. He has OK measurements and decent speed (fake 40 time of 4.6), but mostly seems to get accolades for being "a football player." He's definitely a project, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he became the next unheralded guy to turn into a much better player than his recruiting clippings would suggest.
2011 Outlook: For now, though, a redshirt seems like a lock.
Fun Fact: Lowdermilk was a nationally-renowned soapbox derby racer as a child.