Despite a disappointing 2012 season, the Iowa Hawkeyes still own the state of Iowa.
Kirk Ferentz picked up the ninth verbal commitment of his 2014 class today from Matt Nelson, a 6'8, 250-pound defensive end/tight end out of Cedar Rapids Xavier. Nelson chose Iowa over offers from Notre Dame, Stanford, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa State, among others. Rivals, 247, and Scout all list Nelson as a three-star prospect, though opinions on his eventual position vary. Iowa reportedly recruited him solely as a defensive end, and Nelson's praise of Iowa's defensive staff is a fairly solid indication that this is not a "recruit a big defensive end and make him an offensive tackle" situation.
I can't find a highlight video, so here's a highlight from another Matt Nelson who made a career wearing shoulder pads:
Nelson is the fifth verbal commitment from the state of Iowa, and is widely considered one of the four best prospects in the state for 2014. Iowa now holds verbal commitments from five of the state's top six, with only ISU legacy Allen Lazard breaking free of the pied piper-like call of Reese Morgan. Nelson has told recruitniks that Jim Reid was also crucial to his recruitment. He's a perfect Ferentz prospect: Two-sport star who led his high school team to a state championship game, with a 4.2 GPA, a desire to go to medical school, and a frame ready-made for Chris Doyle's system.
Nelson is the first true defensive end in the 2014 class. Ferentz has admitted that Iowa struck out on its defensive end prospects in 2013, and Rick Kaczenski was extremely effective at running off most of the existing defensive ends, so Nelson should have a chance to play early. At 6'8 and 250 pounds, size should not be an immediate issue, though a redshirt is always likely for a lineman at Iowa.
Welcome to Iowa City, Mr. Nelson.