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Crootin Update: Football Prospects Play in All-America Games

In the midst of the college football bowl season, Iowa has had a number of current, former and potential recruits participating in high school All-America bowl games across the country.

AJ Epenesa is one of two current Iowa commits playing in this weekend’s US Army All-America Bowl.
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As Hawkeye fans everywhere collectively try to get the taste of yet another embarrassing bowl loss out of their mouth, the best place to look is the future. The Hawkeyes lose a lot between January 2nd and the kickoff of fall camp, but they also return some key pieces. And despite losing some very nice incoming recruits (I won’t put you through the pain and suffering of rehashing the details again), Iowa still has a relatively nice crop of commits in the fold and some seriously high-level players walking onto campus this summer.

Since we last updated you on the state of the recruiting affairs, Iowa has added a pair of WRs to the class. The first was Max Cooper, a former Western Central Michigan commit from Wisconsin. Shortly thereafter, JUCO WR Nick Easley decided the opportunity to walk-on at Iowa sounded better than walking on at ISU. We agree.

Easley won’t count against the scholarship limit so the Hawkeyes are officially sitting at 14 scholarship commitments. Previous indications were that Iowa would look to take 20-22 kids in this class. With roughly a month until signing day, that doesn’t look likely at this point to me.

Here’s a quick look at who is on board:

Defensive Backs - 4 Total, 2 CBs and 2 Safeties

  • Josh Turner is a 3-star CB from Delray Beach, Florida
  • Matt Hankins is a 3-star CB from Flower Mound, Texas
  • Camron Harrell is a 3-star S from Bradley, Illinois
  • Djimon Colbert is a 3-star S from Shawnee Mission, Kansas

Defensive End - 3 Total

  • Coy Kirkpatrick is a 3-star DE from Madrid, Iowa
  • Levi Duwa is a 3-star DE from Wellman, Iowa
  • AJ Epenesa is a 5-star DE from Edwardsville, Illinois

Offensive Line - 2 Total

  • Mark Kallenberger is a 3-star OT from Bettendorf, Iowa
  • Tristan Wirfs is a 3-star OT from Mt. Vernon, Iowa

Tight End - 1 Total

  • Jacob Coons is a 3-star TE from Solon, Iowa

Wide Receiver - 3 Total - 1 Walk-On

  • Brandon Smith is a 3-star WR from Lake Cormorant, Mississippi
  • Max Cooper is an unrated WR from Waukesha, Wisconsin
  • Nick Easley is an unrated WR from Council Bluffs, Iowa

Running Back - 1 Total

  • Ivory Kelly-Martin is a 3-star RB from Oswego, Illinois

Quarterback - 1 Total

Peyton Mansell is a 3-star QB from Belton, Texas

The additions of Cooper and Easley add some depth at WR, but by no means do they indicate Iowa wouldn’t take Oliver Martin if he wanted to join. As of now, those odds aren’t looking much different than they were a month ago. Martin is taking an official visit to Michigan State on the 13th and has one last visit he could take and Auburn, which offered this week, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for a visit. He has indicated he’s still unsure whether he will or not, but won’t be taking an official to Michigan. Don’t get your hopes up, that’s more an indication he is comfortable with Michigan than a lack of interest.

Cooper and Easley do likely mean all hopes to turn Jafar Armstrong from Mizzou are gone. It was a long shot anyway. The staff seems to have turned their attention to current Rutgers commit (don't get me started) Ihmir Smith-Marsette. He’s listed as a 3-star CB but is apparently being recruited at WR at Iowa. He’s a 6’1”, 155 pound (ouch) track star. He's planning to visit Iowa City January 20th.

More surprising than losing out in Armstrong, in my opinion, is Kendrick Green staying home and choosing Illinois over Iowa. That one stings a bit as Green was the fallback (and he was a hell of a fall back) for Damion Daniels, the teammate of Chevin Calloway who had an interest in Iowa, but lost said interest.

Aside from Martin, the last major target Iowa is after is Alabama LB Thomas Johnston. Johnston had indicated earlier he intended to make a decision in January. That may still be the case, but he added yet another offer from the SEC (to go with LSU and Arkansas) when home-state Auburn joined the party last week. Keep your Twitter feeds updated.

Now that we’re all up to date, here’s a quick look at what’s been going on in the world of HS All-America Bowls. There are more than a few out there and as such, a number of Hawkeye commits (of past, present and potentially future) have been partaking.

Back on December 22, QB commit Peyton Mansell teamed up with former WR commit Beau Corrales in the Blue-Grey Bowl in Dallas. Stats are non-existent but Mansell saw some action. He threw a couple nice balls and showed, once again, a solid ability to escape pressure as well.

Speaking of Blue-Grey Bowls, RB commit Ivory Kelly-Martin is participating in the second of two games on January 14th in Jacksonville. Details are here: Jacksonville Blue-Grey Bowl.

On New Year’s Day, Iowa missed its only opportunity this year at boasting an Under Armour All-American. Former DB commit Chevin Calloway participated and apparently did well. Calloway has narrowed his school choices to 3 and Iowa is obviously not one of them at this point.

Last, but not least, the US Army All-America Bowl is this Saturday, January 7th. This is one to keep your eye on. Current commits AJ Epenesa and Tristan Wirfs will be going head-to-head along the offensive and defensive lines.

Former RB commit Eno Benjamin, who had been touring with a group of the top 5 US Army All-America selections, will also be in action. Benjamin has indicated he will be making his college announcement from among 5 schools (again, Iowa is 100% out at this point) during the game.

And the hometown kid, WR Oliver Martin will be teaming up with Benjamin and Wirfs for the West. The game kicks off at noon CT on NBC.

Martin has apparently looked pretty good this week.

Here’s a look at some one-on-ones from the OL/DL in practice this week.

Epenesa appears to be living up to the hype.

If you’ve really got some time on your hands, here is a full (yes FULL) scrimmage video from the practices taking place this week.

Only 240 days until football everyone. Until then, keep the Twitter feeds updated and the message board rumors rampant. We will get through this together.