Iowa's recruiting class is one verbal heavier after the addition of Corinth, TX defensive back Josh Jackson, listed at 6'1" and 175 pounds on Rivals. Jackson visited Iowa earlier this month and verbally committed quickly afterward; he makes the third DB to join the 2014 Hawkeye recruiting class.
There's been something of a recurring theme lately of Iowa landing commitments from prospects with, shall we say, light offer sheets, and Jackson would seem to fit this mold. He's a two-star recruit on both 247Sports.com* and Rivals, and Iowa beat out Nevada, Colorado State and New Mexico State for Jackson's commitment. If that doesn't make you sufficiently uneasy, Houston—a team so poor at defense we're not sure the secondary has any idea how to play football—didn't extend an offer Jackson's way. So, yeah. Not a thrilling commitment on its face.
*Well, sort of; 247Sports.com's scouting department gave Jackson two stars, but in the composite ratings Jackson is a three-star prospect. This makes little to no sense, as no single service rates him that highly; Jackson isn't even rated at all yet by ESPN.com or Scout.com.
That all noted, however, we're slightly intrigued. Jackson's highlight reel on Hudl shows a player who's got decent ball skills and is aggressive in run support without sacrificing technique. He shows a knack for getting to the point of attack, squaring, and delivering a solid, clean tackle. He spends time at safety in his film as well and if he fills out he could make a starting-quality prospect at this level in due time. He's not a high-end athlete, and his top-end speed might be a problem at this level, but he's got good enough burst and instincts that he can make most plays.
The two-star thing, though, we should talk about. When you think about the cornerbacks who have made Iowa's defenses special under Kirk Ferentz, you think of names like Jovon Johnson, Bradley Fletcher, Charles Godfrey, Amari Spievey and Micah Hyde. And wouldn't you know it, every single one of those guys was a two-star prospect coming out of high school. Shaun Prater was rated three stars, if you were curious. That showoff. At any rate, Iowa's pedigree of turning two-star recruits into starting CBs with an NFL future is just about as remarkable as its propensity for sending LTs and TEs to the next level.
Now, sometimes the two-star CB that works his way into a lengthy starting role is Adam Shada, and when that happens you're going to have a bad time. And the commitment pages of yesteryear are littered with two-star DBs who flamed out pretty quickly too; the position is hardly immune from recruiting whiffs. But by and large, Iowa has gotten pretty fantastic production from cornerbacks that not a whole lot of other programs wanted. That is a direct credit to the work Phil Parker did as defensive backs coach, and the fact that Parker is now defensive coordinator only gives us more optimism for Jackson's development.
Now, it could be that Jackson never plays a down for Iowa for whatever reason—grades, homesickness, trouble, not good enough, whatever. That happens. But! Based on what we see on tape and assuming his size numbers are accurate*, Jackson's ideal progression point in college would be Amari Spievey: a rangy, fearless hitter whose speed and coverage skills aren't great but who can excel in a Phil Parker defense. He's got a long way to go before he gets there, of course, but so did Spievey going into his senior year of high school, so we're fine with some patience on this one.
Last note: Jackson's listed size is not a sure thing. ESPN and Scout both list Johnson at 5'11" and ~150 pounds, and while those numbers may just be out of date, it also may be that those are his actual measurements and this 6'1", 180 talk (his numbers on Hudl) is wishful thinking. That happens. It's not an insignificant distinction—it's a lot easier to understand how Jackson doesn't have more offers if he sweats his way down to 145 pounds after practice, after all—but his measurements in September 2014 and beyond are much more important than where he is right now. Anyway, that's something to keep an eye on down the road. For now this commitment is fine.
[LEGAL NOTICE: The 37 different wallpaper-sized pictures of actor Joshua Jackson portraying Dawson's Creek character "Pacey" have been removed at the advice of Black, Heart, Gold & Pants Law Firm. Mr. Jacobi's excuse of "I'm in my early 30s, how am I not going to make that reference" is noted but insufficient under current copyright laws.]