Edwardsville, Illinois (Edwardsville)
5 star composite rating (#29)
Other offers: Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame (among lots of others)
It makes sense to kick things off with Epenesa, easily the most exciting prospect in the Hawkeyes’ entire class. A legacy recruit by way of his father Eppy, AJ Epenesa is a caliber of recruit we’re not used to seeing very often in Iowa City. In a class with its fair share of false hopes and letdowns, it sure was a relief when that fax came in to finalize it all.
At first glance Epenesa’s huge, NFL-style frame stands out, which has to have Chris Doyle eager to get the prized recruit into the weight room. Plus, with Epenesa already coming in around 260-pounds, it’s very possible he’ll work his way into the rotation on the defensive line sooner rather than later.
Epenesa is obviously an explosive athlete, but his discipline and consistency is what can truly make him great in Iowa City; it’s easy to not only picture him hounding quarterbacks, but also setting the edge and being impactful against the run. When it comes to Iowa’s 2017 recruiting class, Epenesa is definitely the crown jewel.
So, how quickly can we expect to see Epenesa on the field in Kinnick Stadium? The Hawkeyes are in a pretty good spot at defensive end with Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson, and Anthony Nelson returning with experience, but I’m of the belief that Epenesa will be too good to keep off the field for long and will be in the mix at some point this season.
Madrid, Iowa (Madrid)
3 star composite rating (#1570 overall)
Other offers: none reported
Coy Kirkpatrick has flown under the radar some (especially compared to that guy we just talked about) due in large part, I would guess, to how early he committed. The fact of the matter is that this was a guy the coaching staff wanted all the way back in June of 2015, which definitely says something despite his lack of other offers.
Kirkpatrick seems to have some versatility on the D-line and certainly has a frame that can be built upon in the weight room. It’s almost a certainty that Kirkpatrick will redshirt, but look for him to possibly make an impact down the road.
Wellman, Iowa (Mid-Prairie)
3 star composite rating (#838 overall)
Other offers: Minnesota, Eastern Michigan
Levi Duwa is another one who’s been in the fold for a while, having committed back in April. Duwa’s explosiveness at the point of attack and overall athleticism shine through in his highlights—keep an eye on him moving forward.
Duwa is another clear candidate to redshirt, but it’ll be interesting to note what sort of trajectory his career takes—the Hawkeyes have had success with guys with his tenacity and body type before.
Kenosha, Wisconsin (Indian Trail Academy)
2 star composite rating (#3044 overall)
Other offers: Purdue, Northern Illinois
Nixon is the Signing Day gift of the position group and comes in at a position of need in this class. After the borderline hilarious trials and tribulations of Juan Harris’ commitment(s) and the ebb and flow of the Damion Daniels recruitment, the Hawkeyes finally found their defensive tackle.
By all accounts, Nixon is a very solid addition at this stage for Iowa and has some legitimate upside moving forward. Nixon already showcases quite a bit of the quickness and explosiveness that Iowa covets in interior linemen and should be stepping into a decent opportunity to fight for playing time in 2-3 years.