As things being to heat up on the recruiting trail for Iowa’s class of 2019, we’re taking a look at each position group to identify the top targets at each position. We began our journey with quarterbacks and today we continue with a look at running backs.
As a reminder, here’s how things stand currently for the class:
Iowa Football Class of 2019 Commitments
|Tyler Endres||OL||Norwalk, IA||6'6"||280||3||6/24/17|
|Logan Lee||TE||Orion, IL||6'5"||225||3||6/24/17|
|Ezra Miller||OL||Holstein, IA||6'6"||280||3||4/22/17|
|Noah Fenske||OL||New Hampton, IA||6'5"||280||3||3/2/18|
|Jack Campbell||LB||Cedar Falls, IA||6'4"||210||3||3/31/18|
|Sebastian Castro||DB||Oak Lawn, IL||6'1"||198||3||4/25/18|
|Desmond Hutson||WR||Raytown, MO||6'4"||195||3||5/8/18|
|Jestin Jacobs||LB||Clayton, OH||6'4"||205||3||5/11/18|
|Jake Karchinski||DE||De Pere, WI||6'5"||245||3||5/18/18|
|Alex Padilla||QB||Greenwood Village, CO||6'2"||195||3||6/14/18|
|Jalen Hunt||DE||Belleville, MI||6'2"||245||3||6/23/18|
|Dane Belton||DB||Tampa, FL||6'1"||185||3||6/24/18|
|Justin Britt||OL||Indianapolis, IN||6'4"||282||3||6/24/18|
|Tyler Goodson||RB||Suwanee, GA||5'10"||192||3||7/3/18|
With those members already in the fold, here’s a quick look at how we should expect things to shake out from a positional standpoint in the entire class.
*Note that the two remaining openings to get to a class of 20 would be for best available at any position.
The Iowa offense, while typically seeking to be balanced, is always run-first under head coach Kirk Ferentz. The philosophy for the entire approach to the game is based on the offense limiting turnovers and burning at least some clock to keep the defense fresh. This isn’t earth-shattering news.
But opposing defenses know this better than even Iowa fans and thus running the ball can prove difficult if the threat of throwing the ball isn’t legitimate. I think under the direction of offense coordinator Brian Ferentz the goal is indeed to get that offense much closer to a true balance than perhaps they’ve gotten in recent history and certainly there’s more of a focus on taking the top off of the defense than under previous offensive coordinator Greg Davis.
That presents a bit of a conundrum for the staff on the recruiting trail. The Hawkeyes want to throw the ball a bit more, especially vertically, but to do that requires getting players on the roster who can get open downfield and make plays. How many of those guys want to play in an offense that hasn’t done that recently?
And thus Iowa finds itself trying to prove it’s going to throw more using the tools it has on its roster. Right now, that’s mostly some incredible tight ends and a couple of under the radar type WRs they’ve gotten in the last couple classes.
Going forward, the focus appears to be on bringing in some bigger-bodied receivers with one or two smaller speedsters mixed in. Look for that to hold true in the 2019 class, where the Hawkeyes are likely to take 2, maybe 3 receivers to continue stocking the roster with talent at the position.
They’ve already added a big-body type in Kansas City-native Desmond Hutson. Look for them to take 1-2 additional commits at the position depending on how things shake out at the top of their board.
David Bell, WR
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN (Warren Central)
The top target in the class is a mix of those two traits. David Bell is a former teammate of 2018 commit Julius Brents and would be another in the budding pipeline from Indianapolis to Iowa City. Not only that, but he’s incredibly talented, which is why I think he’s a “take” for the Hawkeyes regardless of other potential commits (read: even if Iowa were to get another commit at the position, they would take Bell and adjust their other position allotments to make room).
Bell finished his junior season at Warren Central with 14 TDs and more than 1000 receiving yards. When you turn on the film, it’s easy to see why Iowa wants him so badly. He has solid size at 6’2” and very good speed and quickness. He consistently gets behind the defense and he has great hands. More importantly, he’s a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands.
Check the clip at 1:54 in his junior film for a sampling of all his great attributes in one play.
That’s why Bell boasts a 4-star rating from every major recruiting services and more than 20 scholarship offers. That includes offers from the likes of Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee and Vanderbilt among others.
But Bell has already been on campus in Iowa City a couple times (including for the MIchigan game a couple years ago) and has plans for a return. He’s got a connection with Brents and his current teammate Justin Britt is thought to be very high on Iowa as well. He’s planning to wait on a decision until this fall and has said he’s looking to the Hawkeyes to prove they can throw the ball more. We’ll see if Ferentz the younger can solve that conundrum this season.
Craig Young, WR
Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN (Wayne)
Like Bell, Craig Young is another Indiana receiver with a remarkable mix of size and speed. Young is built much bigger than Bell at 6’5” and north of 200 lbs. He compares physically to current Hawkeye WR Brandon Smith. But Young might be an even more interesting physical specimen, clocking a 10.65 100m dash recently on the track.
While the offer list isn’t as long as Bell’s the combination of size and speed has garnered plenty of attention for Young. He’s a 3-star on all the major sites and has offers from 11 different schools, including Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa State, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin.
Watching the film, it’s easy to see why he’s so high up many program’s boards. He does a great job of utilizing both his size and his speed. He can get behind a defense, but he’s excellent at using his big frame even when he doesn’t have a lot of space to operate. When he has the ball in his hands, he may not be as slippery as Bell, but he’s got plenty of wiggle for a guy his size.
Young recently trimmed his list to five schools, including Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and the Hawkeyes. He’s got a visit planned to Iowa City on June 22. That will be a big official visit weekend for Iowa as top RB target Jirehl Brock will also be in town.
Young will key to watch as we get into the thick of the summer recruiting cycle.
Kyren Williams, WR
Hometown: St. Louis, MO (St. John Vianney)
Another name to watch will be St. Louis-native Kyren Williams. Unlike Bell and Young, who are pure receivers, Williams is more of an athlete. He lines up all over the place for his St. John Vianney team and he can really do it all.
Despite being on the smaller side at 5’9” and 190 lbs, Williams tallied 36 total TDs and more than 2000 yards from scrimmage as a junior. That kind of production has earned him a 3-star rating and offers from 19 programs. That includes Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue, Stanford, and Wisconsin.
On film, he’s got it all outside of the size. He’s quick with good top-end speed. He’s got good hands and vision. And he’s incredibly elusive. He’s a playmaker in the mold of Akrum Wadley, albeit in a smaller frame. He just has knack for making people miss that you can’t coach.
Williams may be a bit of a stretch for an Iowa offense that has struggled to find a spot for tweener-type athletes. But the Hawkeyes made his recently released top 8, which included Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Stanford. He’s thought to be a Notre Dame lean and has a visit scheduled there for June 15th. He’s also headed to Missouri on June 1st and Michigan on the 22nd, Iowa’s planned big visit day.
It may be a long shot, but he’s worth following until we hear anything new.
Other names to follow include Damari Roberson from Muskegon, MI and De’Shaun Brown from Racine, WI. Both are 3-star receivers in a more typical mold than Williams with frames over 6’.
Expect Iowa to take at least one more at the position, but possibly more if some combination of the three big names above wanted to join the class of 2019. We’ll keep you updated as the news continues to flow in this summer.