We entered last night worried about who might be leaving Iowa City. We ended the night giddy at the prospects of who was coming to town. Faith Ekakitie, a universal four-star defensive end from Lake Forest, Illinois, announced his commitment via a Youtube video. Ekakitie chose Iowa out of a final five that included Stanford, Northwestern, Boston College, and Oregon, and held offers from Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, West Virginia, OMHR, and most of the rest of the Big Ten. He's already 6'3", 275 pounds (that's 25 pounds heavier than Adrian Clayborn at the same height and age, or about the same size as Christian Ballard as a freshman), and may have the size to contribute quickly (even though he admits he doesn't know if he's ready to play right away).
Note that I didn't say he chose Iowa "over" those schools, because that wouldn't be exactly true. Ekakitie had his Oregon offer revoked when the Ducks got a commit to fill the spot they were holding. He was ready to pull the trigger on Northwestern, but was prevented from enrolling due to a slightly lower-than-required GPA. He was likewise kept out of Stanford, leaving only Iowa and Boston College left standing. The kid did what a good American would do: He went with his gut, and his gut said Iowa.
While the circumstances leading to his commit are somewhat disconcerting for a fanbase that has become uncomfortably comfortable with four-star talent leaving before it sees the light of day, Ekakitie looks like a star: Powerful, agile, and relentless on the field, and smart, collected, and articulate off. Where some commits announce with a Tweet, Ekakitie rolled out a media blitz. There was the "day in the life" video linked above, as well as an extended explanation of his decision. Mike Hlas hlas hlalready hlannointed hlim hlas hlis favorite recruit, based largely on his ability to put together a coherent thought.
Ekakitie's commitment is also big for perceptions, especially in Illinois. It gives Iowa three of the top four players in the state, at least according to Rivals, with a shot at #6 Jordan Diamond (and there are some whispers that they may be back in the running for #1 Tommy Schutt, another defensive lineman who had previously committed to Penn State). In a year where Wisconsin is playing in a second consecutive Rose Bowl, such dominance over the state is extremely impressive, and a testament to the recruiting ability of Lester Erb and the rest of the staff.
Major issues remain on the defensive line: For all his accolades, Ekakitie must still be considered unlikely to contribute as a true freshman (weight does not equal playing form, especially at Iowa), and we're about as good as retaining defensive linemen as we are at retaining skill position players; we've really only crossed the first of many hurdles standing between him and the field. But at least we crossed the first, and it was a tall one.