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Let’s get up to speed on the skill position players Iowa secured this recruiting cycle

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Florida vs Iowa Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


Peyton Mansell

6-1, 215
Belton, Texas (Belton)
3 stars (rivals)

Have a seat, Peyton Mansell

Much has been said about Mansell and his connections to Greg Davis and the Texodus and what have you. While Iowa’s other recruits folded from the Lone Star State, Mansell stuck around, committed to becoming a Hawkeye.

People speculated that Mansell would de-commit to Iowa after Davis retired, but he’s held sway, and has take over as a recruiter for Iowa of sorts (it’s also worth noting that Mansell’s next-best offer is probably San Diego State). His timeline is full of retweets from other players who were considering joining the Hawks. What’s especially reassuring about Mansell’s continued commitment to Iowa is how he never wavered, especially at true freshman Nathan Stanley emerged as the next QB to replace C.J. Beathard, sidelining Mansell for perhaps two more years if he does indeed pan out.

So that said, a redshirt for Mansell next year is almost a guarantee. There’s Stanley, and Tyler Wiegers and then whatever is going on with Drew Cook. If Mansell were to see the field next year, then the 2017 season would almost certainly be engulfed in flames.

Running back

Ivory Kelly-Martin

5-11, 195
Oswego, IL (Oswego East)
3 stars (Rivals)

Have a seat, Ivory Kelly-Martin

Even with AJ Epenesa in the fold—who’s Iowa’s highest-rated recruit of all time by many standards—I think the argument could be made that Kelly-Martin is the most important piece of this year’s class.

Iowa currently has just four runningbacks on scholarship, and the departures of Derrick Mitchell Jr. and Johnathan Parker made the position a major need during this cycle. Enter Kelly-Martin, who also had offers from Wisconsin, Arizona, Illinois and like every MAC school.

Kelly-Martin had 1,360 yards on the ground and 22 scores, along with 19 catches for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns as a senior at La Grange Park (IL). Those numbers are down from his junior season when he led his team to a state title, but I don’t think there’s much cause for worry. At 5-11, 195, he’s already got a solid build and makes some video game-like cuts in his highlight tape.

That being said, it’s certainly not out of the question Kelly-Martin sees the field as a true freshman. We haven’t really seen what there is at running back behind Akrum Wadley and Toks Akinibrade, so the door is open for this guy to make an impact on campus day one.

Kyshaun Braun

5-10, 190
Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas)
3 stars (rivals)
Welcome! Iowa Snags Kyshaun Bryan

Kyshaun Bryan just committed to Iowa yesterday, and what a get this is. Bryan was originally committed to South Carolina just a few days ago, but Seth Wallace said something to make him pick Iowa over the Gamecocks.

Iowa now has two very capable running backs in this class, and you all know how Iowa loves its running backs. Bryan also held offers from Florida, Duke, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State and Virginia Tech, among a few others. Wow, that felt good to type.

Wide receiver

Max Cooper

6-0, 175
Waukesha, WI (Catholic Memorial)
2 stars (rivals)
Welcome! Iowa Snags Max Cooper

Wide receiver is Iowa’s position of greatest need, without question. Max Cooper’s late commitment to Iowa helped stopped the bleeding a little, but his talent is yet to be seen, since he was a former Central Michigan commit and played for a small private school in Wisconsin.

His highlight reel is obviously impressive, though. He’s got great footwork and is able to outrun just about every defender he comes across. If he’s able to grow another inch or two he would have the frame to be a force on the field. He can apparently run a 4.5 40, so we’ll find out soon enough if that’s true.

I doubt Cooper will see any sort of meaningful (if any) playing time as a frosh, but with the retirement of Jay Scheel, the door is wide open for a new guy to come to campus and see the field right away.

Brandon Smith

6-3, 205
Lake Cormorant, MS (Lake Cormorant)
3 stars (rivals)
Have a seat, Brandon Smith

Now if there was anyone in this crop of receivers to see the field right away, it would probably be Smith. He reeled in 19 touchdowns for over 1,500 yards as a senior, and has the body type of a receiver we haven’t seen in an Iowa uniform for quite some time.

Smith uses his body to climb the ladder and go for balls. He has speed and strength and was also an all-state long-jumper in Mississippi, so he’s got that multi-sport pedigree Hawkeyes coaches love. While the other receivers in this class dropped like flies, Smith held sway and it’s likely his dedication to being a Hawkeye will pay dividends in the form of playing time early on.

Henry Marchese

6-3, 190
Lincolnshire, IL (Stevenson)
2 stars (rivals)
Welcome! Iowa Snags Henry Marchese

Marchese was the last receiver to commit before NSD, and like Cooper, he was/is a bit of an unknown commodity. His other best offer is probably Army, but he’s a legacy with his dad playing on Iowa’s 1985 Rose Bowl team.

He’s got good size, and Hudl claims he can run a 4.48 40. If that is true, Marchese could see some work early on, even if it’s just on special teams. He’s got brothers that play at Maryland and Illinois, and a twin that could possibly walk-on at Iowa has a receiver or defensive back. Like Cooper, Marchese has the bones to play at Iowa, and he has his work cut out for him as he gets acquainted with Chris Doyle.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Weequahic High School // Newark, NJ
6’1”, 155 lb.
Iowa Football Snags Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Smith-Marsette was another late de-commit from Minnesota, so we’re already beating PJ Fleck it’s awesome.

This is another great get to round out this recruiting class. Smith-Marsette possesses elite speed and shiftiness. He reminds me a lot of Damond Powell, except now he’ll be on the team long enough to learn the playbook and hopefully not get put in a drawer.

With the exception of Epenesa, this might just be the recruit I’m most excited about.