After a week of misery and gloom when it comes to Iowa sports, we finally have a shred of positive news in the form of the verbal commitment of Eric Simmons to Iowa. The good news is that Simmons is a JUCO transfer, suggesting that he might be able to play soon. The less good news is that he's not slated for the defensive line, which is where Iowa really needs immediate help.
Simmons comes to Iowa via Iowa Western Community College (and is originally from Madrid, IA), and what he lacks in star rankings (he's currently unranked by all the services) and offers (Rivals said he had other offers from UNI, Youngstown State, Eastern Kentucky, and Missouri State), he makes up for in size (6-3, 305) and attitude. Just watch these highlights and see if you can't detect a mean streak:
I particularly like the one where he loses his helmet and still blocks the guy about ten yards downfield.
Despite having considerable success recruiting highly-touted prep offensive linemen (it's the one position where we've been ably to consistently recruit 4* talent), Iowa's also made a habit of poaching the odd JUCO offensive lineman here and there. The most celebrated recent success story is likely Marshall Yanda (or perhaps that should be "Pro Bowler Marshall Yanda"), who turned a brief stint as a mauler at Iowa into a very successful career with the Baltimore Ravens. More recently, Iowa again dipped into the JUCO ranks for Dan Heiar, although that story won't have such a happy ending. Simmons played center at Iowa Western and projects as an interior lineman -- either a center or guard -- at Iowa. James Ferentz is almost certainly locked into the starting center spot for 2012, but the job is open beyond that and neither guard spot is in any way locked up for 2012 (unless you were more impressed by Matt Tobin's performance than most observers were).
That said, there's also a fair amount of talent already on campus that will be vying for those spots as well: true freshman Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh, redshirt freshmen Andrew Donnal, and sophomores Drew Clark, Conor Boffeli, and Nolan MacMillan. (Brandon Scherff and Brett Van Sloten seem earmarked for tackle right now.) Simmons has four years remaining to play three years, meaning he could redshirt in 2012 and still have three years of eligibility remaining. Simmons has good size, good video, and now gets to work with an Iowa staff that has reliably cranked out NFL draft picks for a decade now -- the results here could be quite good.