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2016 IOWA FOOTBALL RECRUITING: LINEBACKERS

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Sure, caring is creepy. That's why we generally leave it to the Rivals/Scout/247 guys. But once their signature goes on the dotted line of an Iowa letter of intent, caring ceases to be creepy and becomes essential. So, without further ado, your objects of affection and/or scorn (sometimes both at the same time) for the next four or five years.

KYLE TAYLOR

Linebacker, 6'2", 220
Washington, DC (Gonzaga College High School)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Kyle Taylor | Kyle Taylor Recruiting Capsule

God bless family ties. Iowa signed Taylor's older brother, Miles, in their 2014 recruiting class and that signature -- plus Miles Taylor's success since then (he's primed to be a three-year starter for Iowa at strong safety) -- surely made it easier to pull the younger, bigger Taylor from DC to the heartland.  Iowa has a lot of young guys at linebacker after hitting that position hard over the last few recruiting cycles -- let's not forget that two of their 2015 starters were just sophomores -- so playing time might be hard to come by in the immediate future.  But Taylor looks a lot like a prototypical MLB in the Iowa system; if he can organize the defense and shore up his pass coverage skills, he might be Josey Jewell's heir apparent.

2016 Outlook: Gets his feet wet on special teams this year.

FUN FACT: His friends call him "Coach," but Taylor's favorite Kyle Chandler role is actually Bloodline, because that shit is dope, yo

NICK NIEMANN

Linebacker, 6'4", 220
Sycamore, IL (Sycamore High School)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Nick Niemann | Nick Niemann Recruiting Capsule

Like Taylor, family ties helped bring Nick Niemann to Iowa -- his older brother, Ben Niemann, was Iowa's starting OLB last season and could hold that spot for the next two seasons.  Nick Niemann is bigger than his brother was when he arrived at Iowa and he looks strong enough and quick enough to contribute right away.  He seems like an ideal fit for Iowa at OLB, so don't be surprised if the depth chart says Niemann, Niemann on it at some point in the next few years.  Unless he's good enough to hit the ground running and challenge Aaron Mends and Jack Hockaday (and the other young LBs already on campus) for the lone open gig in Iowa's linebacker corps, Niemann is probably looking at a quiet year in terms of on-field production.  But don't be surprised if he's a guy that routinely garners buzz during practice. I think we'll be hearing from the younger Niemann sooner rather than later.

2016 Outlook: Niemann should see the field in spot duty or on special teams

FUN FACT: Nick and Ben Niemann once dressed up as the Nasty Boys for Halloween when they were kids

KRISTIAN WELCH

Linebacker, 6'4", 218
Iola, WI (Iola-Scandinavia High School)

3★ Rivals, 2★ Scout, 2★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Kristian Welch | Kristian Welch Recruiting Capsule

Iowa's 2016 class is pretty much consensus 3* guys all around -- with the exception of Welch, who introduces some division among the recruitniks. Scout and ESPN rate him a 2* prospect, while Rivals and 247 are more bullish and slot him as a 3* guy. Part of that likely has to do with his obscurity -- his only other DI offer was Bowling Green and he plays for a smaller school in Wisconsin.  Welch was an inside linebacker in high school and that looks like where he'll project in college as well, but he looks like a guy who needs some time in the incubator.  He's going to need to spend some time with Doyle to bulk up and he's going to need to get acclimated to the speed of FBS football. Check back in on him in a few years.

2016 Outlook: Redshirt

FUN FACT: Welch played his high school ball for the T-Birds and retains a deep and abiding distrust for all things Scorpions as a result -- he won't even play as the character Scorpion in Mortal Kombat

BARRINGTON WADE

Linebacker, 6'1", 207
Skokie, IL (Niles North High School)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Barrington Wade | Barrington Wade Recruiting Capsule

First things first: Barrington Wade is just a baller name.  Props to that.  Football-wise, Wade is an intriguing recruit -- although I'm very curious to see why Iowa has slotted him in at LB for now.  Wade playing LB in high school, but his primary gig was running back -- and he was pretty damn good at it.  In fact, even the highlight video that Iowa sent out with his commitment (available in the Recruiting Capsule link above) is all plays of him at running back, where he looks pretty damn impressive (unless everyone he was playing against was wearing cement shoes in those games).  Usually the videos Iowa releases with the commitments feature plays of the commit at the position where they see him playing, even if they also did other things in high school.  The fact that Wade is lined up for the defensive side of the ball suggests to me that a) the coaching staff is really happy with the crew of guys at RB right now and b) they really want to add some speed to the LB position.  Wade doesn't have ideal size for LB (he's a little short at 6-1 and definitely a few pounds light at 207), although he is about the same size as Anthony Hitchens when he arrived at Iowa.  If Wade is a Hitchens starter kit, well, color me intrigued.

2016 Outlook: A redshirt seems like a must if he's really going to stick at LB -- he's going to need time to bulk up and learn more of the nuances of the position

FUN FACT: Although he's depicted dabbing in his Twitter avatar, Wade's favorite dance is actually the cha cha

AMANI JONES

Linebacker, 6'0", 215
Chicago, IL (Wendell Phillips Academy)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Amani Jones | Amani Jones Recruiting Capsule

Iowa targeted a lot of linebackers in this class -- if Wade sticks at linebackers, that would be five linebackers in this 25-man class -- and they especially targeted inside linebackers.  They're definitely planning for life after Josey Jewell.  Jones figures to be vying with fellow '16 recruit Kyle Taylor for that spot, but he could also be a contender for the WLB spot -- which might offer a quicker path to the playing field, unless Aaron Mends and/or Jack Hockaday really knock things out of the park in practice this spring and summer.  Jones looks like a fairly quick, rangy 'backer, but like several of Iowa's other linebacker recruits, he probably needs to spend some time with Doyle.  Still, he seems like the kind of player who might have a chance to see the field early if he picks things up quickly.

2016 Outlook: Redshirt of special teams -- again, flip a coin

FUN FACT: Despite living in Chicago, Amani Jones finds Chicago-style pizza inferior to most other forms of pizza