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Iowa Football Recruiting Positional Overview: Wide Receivers

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The Iowa Hawkeyes will return 6 scholarship WRs for the 2018 season, but only one of them has caught a pass at the college level. We recap and explore the best bets to join them in the Iowa Football recruiting class of 2018.

Iowa State v Iowa
Matt VandeBerg is the lone senior scheduled to depart this season, but he’s also the only proven receiver on the roster. How will the Hawkeyes replace him in 2018?
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

With no sport truly in-season, the summer is recruiting season. So, as we get into the doldrums of summer, we’re stepping up our recruiting coverage a bit. We’ll be taking a quick look at the situation at each position group for the Hawkeyes. We’ll look at level of need, top targets and Iowa’s chances of landing a commitment in each group.

Depth Chart

Iowa Football WR Scholarship Distribution

POS SR JR SO RS FR Incoming FR Total 2018 COMMITS
POS SR JR SO RS FR Incoming FR Total 2018 COMMITS
WR Matt Vandeberg Adrian Falconer Devonte Young Max Cooper; Henry Marchese; Brandon Smith; Ihmir Smith-Marsette 7 Tyrone Tracy

The Situation

Not good. Not good at all. At least not yet. We all know the trivia fact by now: There’s only one receiver on the roster right now who’s caught a pass in a D-1 game. And that guy, Matt VandeBerg, missed most of last season to a broken foot, which he re-injured in spring practice and missed most of that as well. The offseason gave us the departure of Jerminic Smith, Jay Scheel and Ron Nash, and that leaves only junior Adrian Falconer and sophomore Devonte Young returning on scholarship with VandeBerg.

Kirk Ferentz likes to talk about the cavalry not coming, but this position group might be an exception. The WR group was a known issue last year and the staff attacked it on the recruiting trail. The class of 2017 included 4 WRs on scholarship, as well as a juco walk-on in Nick Easley, who will certainly see playing time this fall.

Projecting out to next year, VandeBerg will be gone, creating one opening. Should Easley get the kind of time his spring seems to warrant, it’s likely he’ll find himself on scholarship. So that’s a wash. So that leaves Iowa with seven scholarship receivers. There’s a shot someone transfers as college kids are prone to do (the big group of freshmen could lend itself to that) but the opportunity for playing time and redshirts makes me think they are all still on the roster this time next year. At the end of the day, I think Iowa ends up taking another 3-4 in this class depending on who is available.

Commitments

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Tyrone Tracy Jr. ATH 6'0" 187 Indianapolis, IN

Note: Current commit Tyrone Tracy has also played some RB in high school and is listed here as an athlete, but he is expected to be a WR when he arrives in Iowa City.

Offers

Iowa Hawkeyes Class of 2018 WR Offers

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Kamryn Babb WR 6'1" 175 St. Louis, MO
Jahan Dotson WR 6'0" 165 Nazareth, PA
Drue Jackson WR 6'1" 180 Sachse, TX
Daniel George WR 6'2" 205 Oxon Hill, MD
Meechi Harris WR 6'2" 185 Xenia, OH
Cameron Brown WR 6'1" 175 St. Louis, MO
DaShon Bussell WR 6'2" 175 Fort Wayne, IN
Cole Caterbone WR 6'0" 174 Fort Lauderdale, FL
Jaivon Heiligh WR 6'3" 187 Venice, FL
Patrick Jolly Jr. WR 6'1" 180 Lithia, FL
Calvin Lockett WR 6'2" 160 Largo, FL
Bryce Oliver WR 6'3" 205 Fort Lauderdale, FL
Teriq Phillips WR 6'2" 185 Fort Lauderdale, FL
I'Shawn Stewart WR 5'11" 165 Bolingbrook, IL
Ivan Thomas WR 6'3" 197 Miami, FL

Note: this list only includes players not currently committed to other schools. There are several guys Iowa has offered, but who have already announced a commitment elsewhere. Expect the number of offers to continue growing as the evaluation process moves forward. The summer is a busy time for offers as Iowa likes to get kids on campus for evaluations in camp. It’s also possible some of the kids who committed elsewhere will de-commit and be back on the market for the Hawkeyes.

Analysis

A couple things about that offer list should stand out right away. First, that list is much longer than what we’ve seen with other position groups so far. That’s a reflection of both the current roster situation at the wide receiver position and the need in general for more receivers.

The second thing that stands out if you’ve been following Iowa football at all the last few years is the size. You may recall there was a trend toward bigger receivers under Ken O’Keefe. When Greg Davis arrived in Iowa City, the emphasis was on speed with size being a secondary concern. With Davis gone and O’Keefe back, the offer list above includes only one player under six feet tall. I would expect that to be a trend that continues.

Now, because that list is quite a bit longer than other groups, I’m not going to waste your time going through every one of these guys. Most aren’t strong candidates to end up as Hawkeyes. So instead, I’ll focus on the ones I think Iowa has a pretty good shot at landing, in addition to current commit Tyrone Tracy. As I said above, I expect them to take 3-4 in total so that leaves 2-3 more spots available. Some sites consider current 2018 commit Samson Evans a potential WR so it’s possible he fills one of those spots and Iowa only takes two more. Given the lack of depth there now, I think they get three more depending on who is available.

I’m going to start with a familiar name: Ivan Thomas. It’s familiar because Thomas already tried to commit to Iowa, but was told to hold off until he could get to Iowa City for a visit. Typically, the visit is what seals the deal for these guys so if he actually makes it up to Iowa City, I like their chances. Now, the minor stiff arm may have left a sour taste in his mouth, but if the kid felt good enough to commit without even seeing campus, I have to believe he’ll find his way up at some point and it’ll be a done deal then.

As a reminder, Thomas is a big-bodied WR who is more of a hybrid WR/TE. He comes in at 6’3”, 200 lbs and hails from Miami, FL. He isn’t the fastest guy on the block, but that’s the tradeoff the staff seems willing to make (and given the track record with some of the track guys, I think I’m on board here) and he has really good hands. In addition to Iowa, he’s got offers from Indiana, Kentucky, Rutgers, Syracuse and some mid-majors.

Dashon Bussell is my 1b here and the reason is simple: there are rumors he too tried to commit to Iowa and was told to hold off, but for a different reason. Bussell is said to have some academic concerns that have led his recruitment to be slowed across the board. That will certainly be a development worth following.

Bussell isn’t quite as big as Thomas, but he isn’t exactly small, as he measures in at 6’2” and 175 lbs. He’s got more of a typical WR build and a little better speed. He also has the versatility to play some DB.

He was scheduled to attend last weekend’s recruiting tailgater, but was a late scratch from the event. He recently relocated from Fort Wayne, IN to Knoxville, TN. If he can get his academics in order, I think Iowa would love to have him. The question will be whether others will come calling if he can show progress in the classroom and whether Iowa can hang on when they do.

Things get a little murkier beyond those two as nobody else is rumored to have made an attempt at committing. There is, however, another trend you may have spotted in the offer list: more than half these guys hail from Florida. That too is no coincidence. New WR coach Kelton Copeland is originally from Miami and has been hitting the road hard down in his old stomping grounds.

One such offer has gone out to Calvin Lockett of Largo. His high school coach is Marcus Paschal, who played safety at Iowa under Kirk Ferentz. He measures in at 6’2” and 160 lbs. He has good speed and ball skills (check out the move he uses at the 30 second mark in his film) and also serves as a return man for his high school team.

Lockett recently released a top 11 and included Iowa, along with Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia Tech Virginia, Oregon State and others. He is planning to visit Iowa in July. If he makes it to campus, I like the Hawkeyes chances.

Another name from Florida to monitor is Cole Caterbone. He’s on the smaller side at only 6’, 175 lbs, but he’s sure-handed and appears to be a quality route-runner. He also competes against some stiff competition, playing at Ft. Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas. That should sound familiar as it’s the former high school of incoming freshman RB Kyshaun Bryan and former Hawkeye and Michigan Wolverine Jake Rudock.

There’s pretty limited film out there on Caterbone, but he’s already garnered offers from Cincinnati, Rutgers and some mid-majors to go along with the Iowa offer. He is planning to make the trip to Iowa City some time in July.

In addition to the guys with offers, there are a couple other names to keep an eye on. Former Hawkeye and now former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops has twin sons in the class of 2018. Drake is a WR prospect who camped at Iowa last weekend. While he didn’t leave with an offer, it’s highly likely he gets one very soon. Top 2019 QB prospect Max Duggan of Council Bluffs had high praise for Stoops, calling him the best receiver he worked with at the camp. He’s a little on the smaller side at only 5’11”, 175 lbs, but he looks like the perfect fit for a slot role with the Hawkeyes.

Another name to keep an eye on is Avon, Indiana WR Isaac Guerando. Like Stoops, he left last weekend’s camp without an offer, but one could be on the way very soon. Guerando comes in at 6’1” and 190 lbs and holds an offer from Wisconsin. Conventional wisdom a week ago was that the Badgers were the team to beat, but they added a pair of receivers in Taj Mustapha and AJ Abbott, both of whom had Iowa in their final lists last week, as well as 3-star WR Aron Cruickshank this week. Thus they now appear full at the position. If Iowa decides to extend an offer, I like their chances. Guerando could be part of a big contingent from the state of Indiana in the class of 2018.

Outside of that, the usual caveat applies here: someone will surely come into the picture who isn’t mentioned above. I would expect another 2-3 WR commitments in the class of 2018 and they could all be names not currently on the radar.


As a reminder, we are tackling one position group each week this summer. So far, we’ve taken a look at the running back recruits and the quarterback prospects. Next week, we’ll dive in to the tight ends Iowa is targeting. As we progress throughout the summer, these targets will change as guys commit and new offers are extended. Be sure to check in on the home page for all the updates.