Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Breaking down Iowa's needs in the 2014 football recruiting class, position-by-position.
(EDIT: Let's all give a big "THANK YOU" to PSD, too -- he did a lot of the legwork on the targets portion of this post, which was invaluable. Thanks, PSD!)
We put a bow on 2013 recruiting a month ago, but crootin' never stops and it's time to start thinking about the 2014 recruiting class. Here's a more position-based breakdown of what Iowa needs to do in this class.
Iowa signs around 20 kids per recruiting class, come hell or high water, so let's set that as our rough target for this class.
QB (1): Iowa tries to add a quarterback in every recruiting class and I don't see why that would change next year. The one caveat is that adding a QB in the class of 2014 could mean that Iowa would have five quarterbacks on scholarship in fall of 2014 (Sokol, Rudock, Beathard, Shimonek, and QB Recruit X), which is probably not an optimal use of limited scholarship resources. Then again, we're talking about a team that had two kickers and two punters on scholarship last year. But we'll need to pay attention to how the QB derby (sans Derby, sadly) plays outs this spring and fall; it's likely that someone (or someones) is going to be the odd man out in this race and it wouldn't be a shock if he decided to transfer elsewhere.
- Jay Scheel (Rivals profile) (Hudl) Committed to Iowa (CIC). Told he could start out at quarterback but could eventually convert to wide receiver.
- Easton Stick (Rivals) (Hudl) His dad must love hockey but his son is a quarterback. Visited Iowa just last week. He's from Omaha, Nebraska, and has interest from surrounding schools.
- Clayton Thorson (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) Lester Erb was listed as his recruiter on Rivals. He's from Wheaton, Illinois, and has offers from multiple BCS programs.
RB (2?): It's Iowa. We need running backs. We always need running backs. As it stands, Iowa could have seven running backs on scholarship in fall of 2014, but... again: it's Iowa. We're talking about running backs. If half of those seven guys are still here on September 1, 2014, we should probably consider ourselves fortunate. In any event, AIRBHG's needs must be fed, so Iowa should look to add a few more running backs in the 2014 class, too.
FB (0?): This one might be a stretch, but we'll see. Going into 2013, Iowa has one fullback on scholarship -- Brad Rogers. There's some question about the continuing use of the fullback in a Greg Davis offense -- Iowa certainly used single-back sets a lot last year -- although Weisman often seemed to be at his most effective when he had a healthy Rogers blowing open holes for him. Of course, Iowa hasn't directly recruited fullbacks for a while anyway -- they usually opt to bulk up a running back or transform a tight end or linebacker recruit into a fullback. So they could certainly try and do that rather than try and find a true fullback. They might also just try to get by with a walk-on fullback (see: Mark Weisman, before Weismania gripped Iowa City). There are a lot of options here, but the least likely one is probably Iowa actively recruiting a true fullback.
- Christian McCaffery (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) Think Brandon Wegher's talent.
- Justin Jackson (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) From an area in Illinois Iowa has had success recruiting.
- James Butler (Rivals) (Hudl) From Wheaton, Illinois. Iowa will have to find another lead recruiter but has a shot.
- Mikale Wilbon (Rivals) (YouTube) Has visited Iowa several times but holds multiple BCS offers.
- Taiwan Deal (Rivals) (Hudl) From the Maryland area once recruited by Darrell Wilson.
- Raymonte Maynard (Rivals) (Hudl) Minnesota beat Iowa for Jeff Jones. The Hawkeyes could get still steal this running back/fullback prospect from Gopherland.
WR (1-2): Iowa brought in 3 wide receivers a year ago and 5 wide receivers this year -- plus a few running backs who could potentially transform into slot receivers, too. The Greg Davis-ification of the Iowa wide receiver corps is nearing completion. Now that the quantity issue has (seemingly) been addressed at wide receiver (in terms of raw numbers, Davis should have enough wide receivers that suit his offense), the focus figures to shift more towards quality. In other words, Iowa can probably afford to be a little pickier when it comes to recruiting this year. The goal of last year's recruiting and (especially) this year's class was to completely overhaul the options at wide receiver; the goal next year should be to find some receivers that can elevate the passing game.
- Dominique Booth (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) Iowa offered early but everyone else has since. Former teammate of one time Iowa commit David Kenny.
- Austin Roberts (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) Holds several BCS offers.
- Maurice Ways (Rivals) (YouTube) Recently visited Iowa and fits the profile (holds several MAC offers)
- Garrett Gray (Rivals) (Hudl) Greg Davis is listed as the lead recruiter of this 6'5" receiver from Texas.
- Nolan Jackson-Daniel (Rivals) (Rivals video) Has interest from Big Ten schools but currently one offer (Buffalo).
- Chris Lacy (Rivals) Another Texas prospect.
- A.J. Allen (Rivals) (Hudl) ISU locked up the best in-state wide receiver in Allen Lazard. A.J. Allen is getting interest from both Iowa and Iowa State.
TE (1-2): Tight end is another position where Iowa can afford to be more selective, after targeting it fairly heavily the last two seasons. Still, Iowa loves tight ends and loves using multiple tight ends in a single formation, so it's always prudent to add a few more. Tight ends are also useful additions since they can often be turned into an offensive lineman or a linebacker, too. So look for Iowa to add 1-2 new tight ends in this class.
- Ian Bunting (Rivals) (Hudl) Iowa offered early but his phone is blowing up. Michigan offered just this weekend.
- Daniel Helm (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) Considered the 201st rated recruit in the country Helm has offers from multiple Midwest BCS programs.
- Nic Weishar (Rivals) (Hudl) Another great TE prospect from Illinois with a very long offer sheet. Ohio State, probably.
- Stoney Hawkins (Rivals) (Hudl) A Texas player receiving interest from in-state schools. For his sake, let's hope he can catch.
OL (3-4): Iowa went light on offensive linemen this year, adding just two. That likely won't be the case in the 2014 class. Four offensive linemen are slated to graduate following the 2013 season, which would leave Iowa with just 10 scholarship offensive linemen in the program. So yeah: offensive lineman figures to be a point of emphasis in the 2014 class. I would expect them to target tackles in particular, since several of Iowa's recent OL signings have projected as interior linemen. Of course, one OL target is already in the fold: 4* in-state prospect Ross Pierschbacher. Iowa is certainly off to a good start when it comes to the '14 OL class.
- Ross Pierschbacher (Rivals 4-star), Committed to Iowa (CIC). Could contribute right away as a guard and eventually find his way out to tackle.
- Orlando Brown Jr (Rivals) (YouTube) Iowa made his Top seven which includes CFB's blue bloods.
- Damien Prince (Rivals 4-star) (YouTube) Has offers from everyone.
- Braden Smith (Rivals 4-star) (YouTube) Is Rivals' #19 rated player in the class which means he'll look elsewhere.
- Jamarco Jones (Rivals 4-star) (YouTube) Has a long list of offers but is from Chicago and Iowa could have a chance.
- Brian Allen (Rivals) (YouTube) Another Illinois prospect and has visited Iowa. Michigan State will be tough to beat.
- DJ Foster (Rivals) He's from Lincoln, Nebraska.
- Keegen Render (Rivals) An in-state prospect that was recently spotted enjoying front row seats in Ames watching the Cyclones.
DE (2-3): There's probably no bigger need for the class of 2014 than defensive end. A few other positions are important -- OT and MLB, for instance -- but none are as in need of both quality and quantity as much as defensive end, where things remain a complete mess. Some suspect recruiting (Iowa's probably gambled on a few too many DE projects in recent classes and while it's too soon to judge them, they need time to develop, while Iowa needs help at defensive end ASAP) and some even worse attrition has ravaged Iowa at this position, which is how we ended up with career third-teamers like Joe Gaglione and Steve Bigach seeing so much action last year. Iowa (inexplicably) didn't really address the DE conundrum with this year's recruiting class, which makes it even more vital that the 2014 class contains some strong defensive end recruits. This is one class where we could (and probably should) see Iowa hitting up the JUCO ranks to bolster the options at this weight.
- Dewayne Hendrix (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) An Illinois prospect that is a must get for name alone.
- Silvester Hayes (Rivals) (Hudl) Iowa is battling CSU, Nevada, SMU and Texas Tech.
- JaWhaun Bentley (Rivals) It's Iowa and a few eastcoast BCS teams that have currently offered.
- Harrison Phillips (Rivals) (Hudl) Doesn't have an Iowa offer but is from Millard North in Omaha which has been kind to Iowa. Holds several non-BCS offers.
- Andrew Stelter (Rivals) (Hudl) Iowa State and Minnesota have offered. Iowa could be next.
- Dylan Roney (Rivals) (YouTube) A Michigan kid with some directional Michigan schools interested.
DT (1-2): Of the defensive linemen Iowa has added over the past two classes, most of them currently project as defensive tackles. That's good for the future of Iowa's defensive interior and it means that Iowa can afford to be choosy with the defensive tackle prospects it offers this year. Defensive tackle isn't a huge need, but given the attrition Iowa has suffered along the defensive line recent years, adding 1-2 more players here isn't a bad idea.
LB (2-3): Iowa grabbed three linebackers in their most recent recruiting class, but with all three starting linebackers scheduled to graduate after this season (and two more back-ups listed as juniors), depth is still a concern at this position. Iowa should look to add 2-3 linebackers in this class to help restock the depth chart. In particular, Iowa will probably look to find 1-2 natural middle linebacker prospects, since after James Morris and Quinton Alston, it's unclear who among the remaining linebackers would be an ideal option to plug in at MLB. The heavy use of LBs in special teams is another reason Iowa will want to further replenish its supply of players here.
- Clifton Garrett (Rivals 4-star) (Hudl) He liked his visit to Iowa but now Ohio State is letting him talk to Tim Tebow.
- Tinashe Bere (Scout) (Hudl) Another prospect that Iowa is competing with MAC schools for.
- Brandon Lee (Rivals) (Hudl) He's from Indiana and holds a few BCS offers from surrounding schools.
- Jimmie Swain (Rivals) (Hudl) Iowa is battling Midwest BCS schools for his services.
DB (2-3): Iowa added five defensive backs in the class of 2012 and another three in the class of 2013, so defensive back isn't a position of extreme need. Still, the logistics of the position demand a steady stream of bodies: as many as 5-6 defensive backs are likely to see regular playing time during the season, to say nothing of the special teams units, which also feature several defensive backs. Iowa needs a steady influx of new bodies at this position, so look for them to add a few more players here. Safety, in particular, looks like a position worth of a little extra attention: Tanner Miller will graduate after the 2013 season and Nico Law will only have year of eligibility remaining. Neither Ruben Lile nor Anthony Morgan have played a snap for Iowa yet, and they'll be joined by incoming freshmen Malik Rucker and Solomon Warfield. More bodies are needed here.
- Parrker Westphal (Rivals 4-star) (YouTube) He's from Bollingbrook, Illinois. Iowa has landed recruits from there but they haven't stuck.
- Dareian Watkins (Rivals 4-star) (YouTube) Brian Ferentz has his work cutout here.
- Jyaz Jones (Rivals) His brother Anjeus Jones was part of Iowa's 2013 class.
- Brandon Simmons (Rivals) (Rivals video) A Texas prospect with a long list of offers.
- Dimonic McKinzy (Rivals) (Rivals video) Currently a quarterback that projects to multiple positions.
- Clay Fisher (Rivals) (Rivals video) Brother of current Hawkeye Cole Fisher.
K (1?): Mike Meyer is a senior this year, so Iowa will be looking for a new placekicker in 2014. I suspect their drive to offer a scholarship to a new kicker will be determined by how well walk-on Marshall Koehn looks in practice this spring and summer. If he looks like a solid option, the coaches may simply put him on scholarship after Meyer departs. If he struggles, they'll probably take a closer look at the kicker options available this year. On the other hand, this is Iowa; we had a total of four kickers and punters on scholarship this past season. So I would not exactly be at all surprised to see Iowa offer a scholarship to a kicker in this class.