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Iowa Football Recruiting: #Swarm2019 Offensive Line Targets

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The Hawkeyes have a rich tradition of developing offensive linemen into NFL players. Who are the top candidates to continue that tradition in the class of 2019?

Wyoming v Iowa
Tristan Wirfs made an instant impact in 2017. Is there someone in 2019 who could have a similar path?
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

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

Name Pos Hometown Ht Wt Stars Commitment Date
Name Pos Hometown Ht Wt Stars Commitment Date
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.


Offensive Line

As we mentioned in our blurb on TE targets last week, offensive line is among the position groups Kirk Ferentz has built a solid reputation around. He’s known at all levels for identifying talent, developing it and then sending it on to the NFL.

We saw that this year with the early departure of center James Daniels for the league, as well as the graduating seniors Sean Welsh, Ike Boettger and Boone Myers, all of whom will get a shot in an NFL camp. As we look ahead, the Hawkeyes will be losing two more seniors following this season with Keegan Render and Ross Reynolds, both of whom project as starters this season.

Offensive line is not a position we typically see young players get much live action. Ferentz typically brings in freshmen, redshirts them and introduces them to Coach Doyle. Iowa fans promptly forget about them until they emerge as grown men two-three years later. With the injuries to Myers and Boettger a year ago, youngsters Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs were thrust into starting roles and look to hold those down for several years to come. But the interior will need some replacing and the staff will need to re-stock the cupboard for the day when Wirfs and Jackson head to the NFL.

This year figures to be like most others, where Iowa will look for 3-4 offensive linemen with a pretty even split between interior guys and tackles. They’re already well on their way with commitments from three very good prospects. Ezra Miller and Tyler Endres got on board early and both project as tackles. While Rivals has them both as 3 star prospects, other sites list them at 4 stars and they project to be very good. Noah Fenske was the most recent addition and he’s a 3-star guard prospect.

With that last opening, the staff has some flexibility. They could certainly look to even things out with a guard, but the last few classes have included a handful of guys to provide some depth on the interior with the addition of Fenske. Ferentz is also known to like flexibility with his linemen and many guys on the roster are capable of playing both inside and out. I’d expect that to be a trait of the 4th offensive line commit in the class of 2019 if the staff chooses to take one.

Here are the top candidates in my opinion.

Justin Britt, OT

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN (Warren Central)
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 285
Stars: 3

Justin Britt has been on the Iowa staff’s wish list for some time now. He preps at Warren Central, where Kelvin Bell and the Hawkeyes have been putting in some serious work to build relationships and hopefully a pipeline. In 2018, that effort was rewarded with 4-star safety Julius Brents who is now on campus. In 2019, Warren Central is also home to top WR target David Bell, who we mentioned in our WR overview.

As great as it would be to continue building that pipeline, Britt would certainly be at the top of the list regardless of where he prepped. He’s a very versatile, athletic prospect with a good frame. He’s primarily an offensive tackle at Warren Central, but he also plays defensive tackle and his athleticism provides some flexibility - a trait we know the Hawkeyes love.

Additionally, his frame at 6’4” and 285 would allow him to possibly slide inside if there was a need. Physically, he reminds me of former Hawkeye James Daniels, who came to Iowa at 6’4” and 275. While he clearly isn’t at the same level as the Chicago Bear now, he looks to me like he could project well at a number of positions on the line.

Britt boasts offers from a dozen schools, including Arizona, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mizzou, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Washington State. Despite the long list of offers, it’s rumored that Britt is really choosing between Purdue and Iowa at this point. He made an official visit to Purdue last weekend and will be in Iowa City for the Hawkeyes’ big official visit weekend on June 22nd with most of the current commits and a number of top prospects.

I would expect a decision to come not long after that visit.

Will Putnam, OG

Hometown: Tampa, FL (Plant)
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 280
Stars: 4

Will Putnam is an interesting case. He’s originally from Chatham, Illinois where he got to know the Hawkeyes well. Iowa began building a relationship with Putnam when he was relatively under the radar. Since that time, however, Putnam’s family relocated to Tampa, Florida and his recruitment has taken off.

Putnam has similar size to Britt at 6’4” and 280 lbs and he projects as a guard at the next level. While he doesn’t flash quite the athleticism or versatility of Britt, he shows good fundamentals and a bit of a nasty streak. He’s a bit more polished as a blocker, which is why he’s got the 4th star on Rivals.

As I said, Putnam’s recruitment has really taken off and he now boasts offers from a literal who’s who of college football. That includes Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, USC and more than a dozen others. With a list like that, it will be very difficult for the Hawkeyes to compete, but the early relationship may keep them in the running.

Jonathan Allen, OT

Hometown: Dayton, OH (Dunbar)
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 320
Stars: 3

The biggest of the three prospects listed here, Jonathan Allen is a mammoth of a human being coming in at 6”6” and 320 pounds. In addition to being quite large, Allen is very athletic. As a tackle prospect, he shows very good feet in pass protection, but also the ability to go out and track down a linebacker or defensive back in the running game - impressive for his size and age.

Those physical abilities are in high demand at the next level, which is why Allen has an offer list that belongs in the same discussion as Putnam’s. It includes the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and 15 others. Like with Putnam, Iowa was early to offer and the bluebloods are known to be quite selective even among those they’ve offered.

If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t put much on Putnam or Allen ending up in Iowa City, but never say never. With Britt coming to Iowa City on the 22nd, I’d expect to know a lot more in early July. My hunch is if Britt doesn’t commit by then, we may see a few more offers extended by the staff. If not, perhaps they feel good enough with only 3 commits on the line to use that extra scholarship for a best available type situation.

As always, we’ll keep you up to date as things progress.