(image credit: Student Sports)
Iowa's 2017 football recruiting has been off to a tremendous start -- their class is ranked in the Top 15 in the nation and they've already secured eight verbal commitments, and those commitments included some highly sought-after recruits, including 4/5* DE A.J. Epenesa and 3/4* DB Djimon Colbert, as well as a trio of well-regarded in-state linemen (3* Mark Kalleneberger, 3* Tristan Wirfs, and 3* Juan Harris). Most recently, they also added a speedy 3* RB recruit out of Illinois in Ivory Kelly-Martin. Well, today they landed a commitment from another highly-regarded recruit, and a potential backfield partner for Kelly-Martin, Eno Benjamin.
Benjamin, a 5-9, 203 lb RB prospect out of Wylie, TX, announced his decision to attend Iowa on Twitter tonight:
Excited to announce I am officially committing to the University of Iowa! #SWARM https://t.co/f73eFk8H4w pic.twitter.com/SKrwK2pBKX— Eno Benjamin™ (@eno_benjamin5) April 18, 2016
Benjamin is a consensus 4* prospect according to the scouting services and has a truly impressive offer list: Michigan, Miami, Missouri, Cal, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and West Virginia, among others. He reportedly chose Iowa over a final five consisting of Iowa, Baylor, Michigan, Missouri, and Oklahoma State. Benjamin is the most celebrated skill position player to commit to Iowa since RB Greg Garmon signed with Iowa in 2012. (He didn't stay at Iowa very long; hopefully that fate doesn't befall Benjamin, too.)
So what makes Benjamin so coveted? Well...
Benajmin showcases some wonderful skills in the clips above, including good speed in the open field (listed 40 time of 4.55), a wicked jump-cut and excellent ability to make defenders miss, and an impressive ability to bounce off would-be tacklers. He is not a guy that goes down on first contact at all. He does a good job of following his blockers, letting holes develop, and then exploding through them as well -- an important attribute for any running back, but certainly for an Iowa running back given Iowa's zone blocking schemes. Hell, he even shows the ability to throw a pass on a few trick plays; I can't imagine he'll ever be called on to do that at Iowa, but it's nice to know that's in his skillset.
The future is looking bright for Iowa football and recruits like Benjamin are a big reason why. Iowa has managed to put together rushing attacks with converted fullbacks and lightly recruited tailbacks in the past, but some of Iowa's best success running the ball has been with highly-regarded running back prospects. Remember Jermelle Lewis, Albert Young, and (to a lesser extent) Shonn Greene? The Iowa ground game was in pretty good shape when those guys were in the backfield. Hopefully Benjamin can do the same for Iowa's ground game in the future. Welcome aboard, Eno.