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Iowa Football Class of 2018 Recruiting Positional Overview: Tight Ends

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The Iowa Hawkeyes will return eight scholarship tight ends 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: Wisconsin at Iowa
Noah Fant showed promise at TE last year. The group will be asked to carry a heavier load in 2017.
Reese Strickland-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.

Depth Chart

Tight End 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
TE Jon Wisnieski; Peter Pekar Drew Cook; Noah Fant; Nate Vejvoda Shaun Beyer; TJ Hockenson Jacob Coons 8 Jack Plumb Anthony Torres Logan lee

The Situation

The Hawkeyes have long been known for attracting and producing tight end talent. This year is no different. A cursory look at the scholarship distribution chart above shows a plethora of options. Heading into 2018, Iowa will lose a pair of seniors in Jon Wisnieski and Peter Pekar. Both of those guys are solid contributors, but are perhaps more known for their blocking prowess than their pass-catching abilities.

Behind them, there’s a trio of juniors to-be (in 2018) who are all very talented, if a bit unknown. The leader in the clubhouse has to be Noah Fant. The Nebraska native is a great athlete who earned playing time as a true freshman last year, catching 9 passes for 70 yards and a TD. He’s joined in that class by Drew Cook, the former QB who is also an incredible athlete, and Nate Vejvoda who prepped as a WR before converting to TE at the collegiate level.

The class of 2017 included only 1 TE due to the depth already on scholarship. Jacob Coons of Solon comes in at 6’3” and 215 lbs and was rated the 30th best TE prospect in the country by 247 Sports for 2017. As we’ve grown accustomed to at Iowa, I would expect to see Coons take a redshirt year barring an AITEHG attack or the implementation of an all-TE offensive scheme by new OC Brian Ferentz.

Given all that depth, look for Iowa to only take 1 TE in each of the next couple classes. The exception would be if they find guys they feel could move to another position.

Commitments

2018 Commitments

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Jack Plumb TE 6'8" 245 Green Bay, WI

2019 Commitments

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Logan Lee TE 6'5" 225 Orion, IL

Offers

Offers to 2018 Uncommitted Tight Ends

Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Name Pos Ht Wt Hometown
Luke Ford TE 6'7" 247 Carterville, IL
Leonard Taylor TE 6'5" 240 Springfield, OH
Anthony Torres TE 6'5" 235 Mishawaka, 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

First things first: I said I think the Hawkeyes will take one tight end in this class and as you’ll note above, they already have a commitment from a class of 2018 tight end (and another in 2019!). But they aren’t done. And here’s why. Jack Plumb, that 2018 tight end commit, is a massive human being. He’s listed at 6’8” and 245 lbs heading into his senior year of high school. He’s also incredibly agile. He does play tight end in high school, but he also has mid-major basketball offers as he’s a good power forward for his Bay Port (Green Bay) high school team.

But that frame is so massive and Iowa has such a rich history converting guys with this type of frame into high end draft picks at the OT position, it’s a really strong bet he ends up on the OL. Again, not that he couldn’t play TE. He could. He has the hands and the agility and several schools recruited him solely at that position. But he mentioned Iowa’s history moving big TEs to OT as a reason why he chose the Hawkeyes. One of the pics in his Twitter dot com announcement was him in a number 79 jersey. I think it’s a pretty safe bet this kid gets to Iowa City next summer at around 260 lbs, spends a redshirt year getting to 285 and another offseason getting north of 290 and then has a real shot at developing into the next great OT prospect from Iowa.

So, given that the only TE commitment in 2018 likely won’t stay a tight end, the Iowa staff is still out on the trail recruiting another. As you can see above, there are three other offers out to uncommitted players. Luke Ford would be a nice get, but it seems things have cooled on him a bit and his attention has turned elsewhere.

The name to follow from the above is Mishawaka, IN tight end Anthony Torres. I did a brief intro to Torres when he camped at Iowa a few weeks ago. He left Iowa City with an offer, as did his high school teammate Paul Moala. Torres is a big kid on the upper side of 6’5” (some sites list him at 6’6”) and 235 lbs.

He’s a consensus 3-star athlete with offers from Indiana, most of the Ivy League and the usual suspects among the mid-majors, including UCF, Ball State, Bowling Green, Air Force, and Western Michigan.

A look at his junior season film shows pretty good speed and agility for a guy his size. His Penn high school plays in Indiana class 6A, the highest in the state so it’s safe to assume the competition isn’t terrible. Torres also shows pretty solid hands on tape and really good use of his body. There are several highlights of him bowling over defenders or dragging them for extra yardage. He’s a good blocker, as would be expected with his size, though he is quite a bit smaller than Plumb and I would expect him to stick at TE should he end up at Iowa.

I think Iowa has a really good shot at landing Torres and they would take his commitment despite already having a TE in the class. The other two prospects with offers are much less likely due to their recruiting situations.

Luke Ford is a guy Iowa was in on pretty early. The Hawkeyes offered the 6’7” 245 pounder back in February while his offer list was still pretty light, but his recruitment has since blown up. He now has offers from just about everyone in the country, including Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan and Alabama. I think it’s safe to say he’s not going to be in Iowa City.

Leonard Taylor is a guy Iowa offered even earlier than Ford, getting involved over a year ago. He’s a 4-star prospect with an offer list around the block. He’s from Ohio and boasts an Ohio State offer, along with one from Oklahoma, Michigan, Alabama, etc, etc. It would be a complete surprise if he ended up at Iowa.

Given those situations, it appears Iowa has three potential routes for the tight end position in 2018:

1. They land Anthony Torres and move on to 2019, where they already have a commitment from a 4-star in Logan Lee. They may already be done in 2019 as well.

2. They don’t land Torres and they make a push for someone not currently listed as holding an offer.

3. They decide they don’t need a TE in this class and shut it down altogether.

I think the options are listed in order of likelihood. Time will tell.


As a reminder, we are tackling one position group each week this summer. So far, we’ve taken a look at the wide receivers, running back recruits and the quarterback prospects. Next week, we’ll dive in to the offensive linemen 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.