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Iowa Football Class of 2018 Recruiting Positional Overview: Offensive Line

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The Iowa Hawkeyes will return 12 scholarship OL for the 2018 season, but there’s always room for more. We recap and explore the best bets to join them in the Iowa Football recruiting class of 2018.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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.

As a reminder, we are tackling one position group each week this summer. So far, we’ve taken a look at the tight ends, wide receivers, running back recruits and the quarterback prospects. Next week, we’ll switch things up and move over to the defense. First up will be the defensive backs 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.

Depth Chart

Offensive Line Scholarship Distribution

POS SR JR SO RS FR Incoming FR Total 2018 COMMITS 2019 COMMITS
POS SR JR SO RS FR Incoming FR Total 2018 COMMITS 2019 COMMITS
OL Ike Boettger; Boone Myers; Sean Welsh James Daniels; Lucas LeGrand; Keegan Render; Ross Reynolds Landon Paulsen; Logan Paulsen Cole Banwart; Alaric Jackson; Spencer Williams Mark Kallenberger; Coy Kirkpatrick; Tristan Wirfs 15 Jeff Jenkins: Cody Ince Ezra Miller: Tyler Endres

The Situation

The situation on the offensive line is perhaps the polar opposite of that in the receiving group. The Hawkeyes have virtually everyone back, including a core group of guys who weren’t starters but who have played significant snaps. Hello Jerry gave a thorough overview of the offensive line heading into the 2017 season last week. Here’s a snippet:

there are three seniors and a trio of starters remaining on the roster, but Iowa had much of the same last season too and they STILL somehow utilized seven different combinations throughout the season. SEVEN! And even when the rails looked like they were coming off, they still finished as one of the more dominating and effective run blocking lines in the country with an adjusted line yards line of 113.6 (over 100 is good), while also helping in the production of two 1,000 yard rushers for the first time ever.

But in addition to the guys in that senior group, there are a slew of younger guys to keep an eye on. The Hawkeyes will lose Boettger, Myers and Welsh after this season, ostensibly freeing up the starting spot at both tackles and at RG. Keegan Render and James Daniels will return for their senior seasons to fill the other two starting spots.

To replace the departures, Iowa will likely look to seasoned veterans rather than incoming freshmen. The Hawkeyes like to bring guys in, introduce them to Doyle (and apparently now introduce them to Tim Polasek and his grill) and let them develop a couple years before they see the field. But some recent success on the recruiting trail might be speeding up that process.

Alaric Jackson will only be a redshirt freshman this season, but he is reportedly up nearly 35 lbs and projected as second-team LT in the most recent depth chart. He could walk into the vacancy left by Boone Myers’ graduation. Incoming freshman Tristan Wirfs is another big-bodied young man who could be ready for significant reps as only a redshirt freshman in 2018. He projects as a tackle, similar to Jackson.

And that says nothing of the number of older guys, like Lucas LeGrand and Ross Reynolds, already on the 2-deeps. Suffice to say this is one position group that is absolutely loaded for the Hawkeyes for the next couple years.

Commitments

2018 Offensive Line Commitments

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Cody Ince OT 6'5" 260 Balsam Lake, WI
Jeff Jenkins OG 6'4" 272 Crystal Lake, IL

2019 Offensive Line Commitments

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Tyler Endres OT 6'6" 280 Norwalk, IA
Ezra Miller OT 6'6" 280 Holstein, IA

Offers

Offers to Uncommitted OL in Class of 2018

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Jackson Carman OT 6'6" 305 Fairfield, OH
Anthony McKinney OT 6'8" 330 Council Bluffs, IA
Carlos Vettorello OT 6'4" 260 Detroit, MI

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

It’s been pretty well-documented by now that Iowa is having some really good success recruiting offensive linemen. It’s always been a strong suit for Kirk Ferentz and the addition of Tim Polasek has only furthered that success.

As you can see from the depth chart, Iowa will be returning 12 scholarship linemen in 2018 provided there’s no attrition outside the graduation of Ike Boettger, Boone Myers and Sean Welsh. The Hawkeyes already have two pure offensive linemen committed in the class of 2018 in Cody Ince of Wisconsin and Jeff Jenkins of Illinois. But they also have a TE from Wisconsin in Jack Plumb who is listed at 6’8” and 245 lbs as a high school junior. He is a pretty safe bet to slide to the tackle spot once he’s on campus. If that happens, Iowa would be looking at 15 linemen in 2018, which is exactly where they stand today.

The Hawkeyes have 3 remaining offers out to recruits who haven’t already committed. They would gladly take any of the three if they committed, but it’s also possible they stay with the 2 (3) they have and don’t add another OL in the class.

The first guy listed above is Jackson Carman of Fairfield, Ohio. Carman is an absolute monster at 6’6” and 305 lbs heading into his senior season. He’s also a consensus 5-star prospect and the number 1 offensive tackle recruit in the country. His offer list is incredible and his interest in Iowa appears to be low.

Anthony McKinney is the next name on the list and as of a few weeks ago he’s the guy most would’ve predicted to end up in Iowa City. He’s another really large human being, measuring in at 6’8” and 330 pounds (!!!) and is a consensus 4-star recruit. Originally from Machesney Park, Illinois (Rockford area), McKinney is a JUCO product from Iowa Western. The two extra years of development may explain some of that size. And he is a really good athlete for his size.

Following a May visit, McKinney seemed high on Iowa, telling Rob Howe of HawkeyeNation the following:

I really like Coach P. We get along really well. We’ve had some very good conversations on more than one subject and he seems like a very down-to-earth guy, a guy I can be around on a daily basis. Also, I want a program where I can see myself developing as an offensive lineman and in terms of that it doesn’t get much better than Iowa

At the time, it seemed like Iowa might be right near the top, along with Oklahama. Then Bob Stoops announced his retirement and McKinney took another visit to Iowa City, this time with his family. Leaving campus, it seemed like Iowa may be the team to beat for his services.

But since his return visit in June, Iowa has added 2018 OL Cody Ince and 2019 OL Tyler Endres, in addition to the big 2018 TE Jack Plumb, who will almost certainly be an OT at some point. Now, none of those guys would likely be an actual threat to McKinney’s playing time given Iowa’s history of developing OL a year or two before playing them and McKinney’s status as a JUCO with 3 years to play 2. But it seems to have turned him from an Iowa lean to an Oklahoma lean nonetheless.

McKinney would certainly be a nice addition for Iowa and has said repeatedly he’ll make his decision in early August. He is scheduled to be at TCU this weekend and originally had an official visit to Iowa City (his third visit of the summer to Iowa) planned for late July. Now it sounds like he may make an announcement as early as next week without making his final return trip to see the Hawkeyes. Stay tuned on this one.

The final true OL name listed above is Carlos Vettorello. Vettorello is a 3-star OL prospect from Detroit who recently cut his list down to 6, including the Hawkeyes.

Vettorello is a little smaller than the other two, listed at 6’4” and 260 lbs, but he is another solid prospect. He’s a guy that could easily take a redshirt year to build mass and then work into the rotation as a redshirt sophomore or junior. His highlight tape shows the kind of mean streak and affinity for finishing plays through the whistle with pancake blocks that has been the bread and butter of Iowa offensive line recruits under Kirk Ferentz.

Of course, assessing high school footage of an offensive lineman is tricky. But Vettorello plays for a University of Detroit Jesuit team known for playing at a high level and pumping out football talent. His technique looks solid and he has a frame to develop into a tackle at Iowa.

One other name worth mentioning along the offensive line is Daniel Parker, Jr. Parker is a 4-star DL prospect, but he plays both sides of the line at Blue Springs (Missouri) High School and projects just fine at OL. Given Iowa seems keen on taking a few more DL prospect in this class, Parker could be a nice fit given his versatility and sheer athleticism.