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Caring Is Creepy 2012: Have A Seat, Jaleel Johnson

Additional highlights here and here.

Defensive tackles are widely considered one of the biggest white whales in recruiting: it's damn hard to find guys who have the size and talent to excel at the position.  Historically, Iowa has tried to solve this particular problem by finding an undersized-but-athletic kid and letting Doyle bulk him up to deal with the pounding of Big Ten football. There have been plenty of success stories from that particular route: Jonathan Babineaux, Matt Kroul, Mitch King, and Karl Klug to name a few.  Of course, the downside to that approach is that it typically takes a few years to pay off, which limits the use you can get out of a player and can create depth issues if things go awry.  (See: 2005 Iowa, when a lack of other options forced Iowa to turn to King and Kroul, redshirt freshmen who were still undersized; they became very good, but they their lumps in those early years.)

So it was exciting when Iowa landed a beast like Carl Davis (6'5", 300 lbs.) two years ago or Darian Cooper (6'1", 275 lbs.) last year.  Davis was a consensus 3* recruit who had offers from a good chunk of the Big Ten (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana), while Cooper was a 3-4* recruit with offers from a slew of Big Ten schools (Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Illinois), plus Florida, West Virginia, UCLA, and Georgia Tech (among others).  And now this year Iowa's adding Jaleel Johnson (6'2", 277 lbs.), a Chicago-area recruit with a host of quality offers, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Illinois, Minnesota, Boston College, Arizona, and Tennessee.  Johnson has the recruiting plaudits, too: he's a consensus 4* recruit and a top-20 position recruit from Rivals (#11 DT), Scout (#20 DT), and ESPN (#18 OG).

Based on his video highlights, Johnson has great size (duh), as well as good speed (one of the clips features him sprinting downfield on a coverage team to block guys out of their cleats) and the ability to deliver some good hits (he crushes some dudes in those clips).  Having talent like that available on the defensive line is very exciting indeed.  Again, Iowa's obviously done quite well with the "bulk 'em up" approach and I'm sure there will continue to be a place for guys like Klug and King in the Iowa line-up for years to come, but there's also something to be said for guys who arrive on campus with a lot of natural talent and size.  On an unrelated note, it's good to see Iowa continuing to have recruiting success in the Chicago area -- Chicago is too close to Iowa City and has too much talent for Iowa not to make it a priority recruiting territory.