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Iowa Football Class of 2018 Recruiting Positional Overview: Defensive Backs

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The Hawkeyes lost a pair of seniors, including a Thorpe Award winner, from the defensive backfield in 2017. With the youth replacing them, we take a look at how things could shake out heading into 2018.

Iowa v Rutgers
Manny Rugamba will be a mainstay of the Iowa secondary for some time. Who could be joining him in the class of 2018?
Photo by Elsa/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.

As a reminder, we are tackling one position group each week this summer. So far, we’ve taken a look at the offensive line, the tight ends, wide receivers, running back recruits and the quarterback prospects. Next week, we’ll continue exploring the defense as we tackle linebacker recruitng. 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

Defensive Back 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
S Miles Taylor Jake Gervase; Brandon Snyder Amani Hooker Noah Clayberg; Djimon Colbert; Geno Stone 7
CB Josh Jackson Michael Ojemudia; Manny Rugamba Cedric Boswell Trey Creamer; Matt Hankins; Camron Harrell; Josh Turner 8 Terry Roberts
Total 1 3 3 1 7 15 1 0
The Iowa secondary is in the midst of a youth movement of sorts.

The Situation

The defensive back situation is certainly an interesting one. The Hawkeyes lost both cornerbacks to graduation following the 2016 season, including a Thorpe Award winner in new Los Angeles Charger (still feels weird) Desmond King. Typically the departure of a pair of corners would mean a near dire situation, but the injury to Greg Mabin in ‘16 allowed a few younger guys to get some legitimate playing time. Most notably was Manny Rugamba, who proved to be a force in the defensive backfield.

Given that youth and their recent experience, it looks as though the Hawkeyes will be returning a trio of CBs in 2018 who all have plenty of live reps. Iowa also signed four corners in the class of 2017 so the depth is building among the youngsters.

At safety, the Hawkeyes will lose their hit man in SS Miles Taylor to graduation following this season. They’ll return FS Brandon Snyder as a senior in 2018 and given his current injury situation, they may well have a pair of experienced safeties still in the fold. Behind Snyder, there’s Jake Gervase and Amani Hooker, as well as a trio of freshmen. One of the freshmen is a grayshirt in Noah Clayberg. Suffice to say that despite the departure of Taylor, Iowa should have some depth at safety in 2018.

For a full look at the situation in the defensive backfield for 2017, check out @jordyhansen’s rundown here.

Commitments

2018 Defensive Back Commitments

Name Pos Hometown Ht Wt Stars Commitment Date
Name Pos Hometown Ht Wt Stars Commitment Date
Terry Roberts DB Erie, PA 5'10" 169 2 6/5/2017
DJ Johnson DB Indianapolis, IN 6'0" 170 3 8/22/2017
Julius Brents DB Indianapolis, IN 6'2" 180 4 9/1/2017

Offers

Offers to Uncommitted 2018 Defensive Backs

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Julius Brents CB 6'2" 180 Indianapolis, IN
Ken Montgomery CB 6'2" 165 Tampa, FL
D.J. Johnson CB 6'0" 170 Indianapolis, IN
Ken Montgomery CB 6'2" 165 Tampa, FL
Keondrae Miller CB 6'1" 185 St. Petersburg, FL
Jayce Rogers CB 5'8" 160 Valdosta, GA
Dallas Craddieth S 6'1" 180 Florissant, MO
Paul Moala S 6'0" 202 Mishawaka, IN
Reese Taylor ATH 5'10" 175 Indianapolis, IN

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

The secondary is an interesting situation for the Hawkeyes heading into 2018. As noted above, there’s some pretty solid experience returning. Iowa is breaking in a pair of new corners in 2017, but that doesn’t mean they are inexperienced. And they lose nobody after the season. At safety they lose Miles Taylor, but return Snyder and whoever fills in for him while he remains sidelined with an ACL injury. Add to that the sheer number of guys they took in 2017 (7 DBs in total) and I expect Iowa to go a little lighter this cycle. I’d think 4-5 between the corner and safety spots.

As the summer nears an end, things will continue to heat up on the recruiting trail At this point, the Hawkeyes already have a commitment from one cornerback in Erie, PA native Terry Roberts. As we pointed out in his commitment post, Roberts has been mentored by former Hawkeye Jovon Johnson and really fits the mold of classic Iowa guy.

Roberts measures at 5’10” and 170 lbs heading into his senior season. He claims to mold his game after former Hawkeye Bob Sanders, but his highlight film shows much more of him as a cover corner with really good ball skills. In addition to breaking up 8 passes, he had 2 INTs and 2 punt returns for TDs as a junior. He should slide in nicely behind the likes of Manny Rugamba and Michael Ojemudia, as well as the 4 incoming freshmen in the class of 2017.

Beyond the commitment of Roberts, Iowa is sitting in a really good spot with a couple of highly rated corners from the state of Indiana. DJ Johnson is a 4-star from North Central High School in Indianapolis who is down to the Hawkeyes and Notre Dame. He’s considered the number 4 recruit in the state of Indiana in 2018 and the number 29 CB overall and he can flat out play.

Johnson in camping at Ohio State this weekend before making his announcement in August. While Notre Dame is always tough to beat out, I really like Iowa’s chances here. Kelvin Bell has been putting in the man hours to build the pipeline into Indiana (he’s reeled in Tyrone Tracy and Anthony Torres already) and I think Johnson could be a big time win for the staff.

Moreover, if Bell and the Hawkeyes can land Johnson, it sounds like fellow Indiana DB Julius Brents may follow. Brents is a 3-star safety according to the 247 Sports composite rankings, but he boasts a 4th star according to Rivals. He preps at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis and, like Johnson, he can flat out play. He’s a little bigger at 6’2” and 180 lbs and he uses that size to play physical out of the secondary. His film shows good instincts and ball skills, but a willingness to bring the wood a la current Hawkeye Miles Taylor.

Brents recently cut his list to 6, including the Hawkeyes along with Cincinnati, Indiana, Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Louisville. Brents isn’t expected to make his decision until the fall, but a commitment from Johnson could push up that timeline. He’s one I feel pretty good about ending up in Iowa City.

Outside of the two Indiana guys, the water gets a little murkier. The Hawkeyes have been in on Dallas Craddieth for a while. Craddieth is a 6’1” 180 lb safety from Flourissant, Missouri and part of that big St. Louis contingent the Hawkeyes have been working for well over a year. Thus far the efforts haven’t bore much fruit as several of those guys have seen their recruitments balloon and they’ve looked elsewhere.

Craddieth is a 3-star according to the 247 Composite rankings and the number 5 prospect in Missouri. Of all the St. Louis-area guys Iowa has been after, he may have the best chance of ending up a Hawkeye (Daniel Parker Jr. hails from Blue Springs, MO, which is over by KC rather than St. Louis). However, I like Iowa’s chances with Brents and Johnson a littler better.

Beyond Craddieth, there are a couple other names to keep an eye on. Given what I’ve already said regarding Kelvin Bell and Indiana, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise most of the other names to follow hail from the Hoosier state (maybe if they all get on board we can lobby for a name change). Paul Moala is listed by several sites as a linebacker, but he projects by some as a safety at 6’ 202 lbs. Moala has been a high school teammate of current Hawkeye commit Anthony Torres, who will be transferring to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior season.

The other two names are both athletes who could end up in the secondary. Reese Taylor is a 5’10” 175 lb athlete from Indianapolis who has put up some ridiculous numbers on offense and is lightning quick. He’s got a solid offer list including a bunch of Big Ten foes.

And Dashon Bussell is a curious case of another Indiana kid. At 6’2” and 185 lbs, Bussell has been spending most of his time as a WR in Fort Wayne, IN, but recently relocated to Knoxville, TN. He has good speed for his size and plays both sides of the ball in high school. He could project into the secondary. His case is most interesting because he’s rumored to have already attempted to commit to Iowa. It sounds like he may have some academic concerns which have caused the staff to ask him to prove things in the classroom this fall before they take his commitment. Those types of situations can play out any number of ways, but Bussell certainly looks like he would be a nice get athletically.


As always, just a reminder that recruiting is truly a dynamic world. Things change in the blink of an eye. A commitment by one prospect could lead to others following so to not have their spot taken. Conversely, recruits committing elsewhere may open things up and result in a new offer or two. We’ll continue to keep you updated as things evolve. Expect the momentum to continue with some of the names mentioned above making their decisions prior to the start of the high school season. Tune in to the home page for all the updates.