clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Iowa Football Recruiting: #Swarm2019 Linebacker Targets

The Hawkeyes lost a trio of starting linebackers to the NFL this year. As they look to re-stock the cupboard, we examine some of the top prospects to monitor.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa
The Outlaw is gone, but certainly not forgotten. Nobody can replace him, but who will the Hawkeyes turn to as they look to fill the void?
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

As things begin 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.


Linebacker

After a big recruiting weekend for the Hawkeyes where we saw three of four official visitors who weren’t already committed to Iowa pledge their allegiance. The fourth was reportedly close to following suit and may still well do so before long. But of all the commitments, none was a linebacker (full disclosure, I think there’s some small chance Jalen Hunt could try his hand at linebacker given his athleticism and quickness).

Iowa is looking to likely add a trio of backers in the class of 2019 as they continue their quest to re-stock the cupboard after losing all three starters after last season. They’ll lose Aaron Mends and Jack Hockaday after this season (barring the NCAA changing their stance on granting medical hardship waivers to Iowa players) leaving the Hawkeyes with 11 linebackers on the roster. While that may sound like a lot, remember 3 are on the field at a time for the Iowa defense and the special teams is littered with them.

As it stands right now, the Hawkeyes have a pair of linebackers already committed in the class. That includes Jack Campbell of Cedar Falls and Jestin Jacobs of Ohio, both of which project as outside linebackers. Look then for the Iowa staff to try to fill the class with one more inside linebacker.

Here’s a look at the top candidates.

Nick Henrich, LB

Hometown: Omaha, NE (Burke)
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 210
Stars: 247 Sports - 4; Rivals - 3

Nick Henrich has been one of the Iowa staff’s top priorities in the class of 2019 since the outset. The big Omaha linebacker is a high school teammate of TE target Chris Hickman and he’s a Hawkeye legacy (his dad played tennis for the Hawkeyes in the 80s) who grew up and Iowa fan.

That’s good news as Henrich is an incredibly talented middle linebacker. Henrich has good size at 6’3” and 210 pounds. He also shows excellent instincts reading plays and sniffing out the ball carrier through traffic. He diagnoses plays very, very quickly and closes fast. He’s also a hard hitter. It’s hard to watch his video and not see a lot of a certain Hawkeye legend who just departed for the Denver Broncos.

Rivals lists Henrich as a 3-star, but they’re in the minority. 247 Sports and their composite both have him at a 4-star. He boasts 21 different offers, including Colorado, Duke, Florida, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue, Texas A&M and Wisconsin among others.

Henrich has been to Wisconsin and Nebraska in recent weeks, but Iowa is still considered to be among his top choices. He’s played things very close to the chest and doesn’t appear likely to play any games. He would be a major get for the Hawkeyes, but luring top prospects out of rival states is never easy.

Tommy Eichenberg, LB

Hometown: Cleveland, OH (St. Ignatius)
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 225
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 4

Eichenberg would look great in Black and Gold.

However, shortly after writing this, he committed to Boston College. Feel free to read about him anyway:

While Henrich is certainly the guy who’s had the most buzz around his name and Iowa, Tommy Eichenberg is another incredibly talented inside linebacker who shares a lot of the same traits. He’s rated similarly by the major recruiting services, though his 3- and 4-star ratings are flipped with 247 Sports the group rating him lower than Rivals.

Like Henrich, Eichenberg has really good size for linebacker and that’s accentuated by how he uses it. He’s another guy who is really great at diagnosing plays, fighting through would-be blockers to get into the backfield and make a play. He’s excellent in both run support and in coverage over the middle. Eichenberg finished his junior season with 114 tackles, 19 TFL, 7.5 sacks and a pair of INTs for Cleveland’s St. Ignatius.

Like Henrich, Eichenberg has a slew of potential suitors. He has offers from 15 schools, including Boston College, Duke, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue and West Virginia. A decision could be coming soon, we’ll see if the Hawkeyes can replace the Outlaw with the talented backer from Ohio.

Cameron Baker, LB

Hometown: Council Bluffs, IA(Thomas Jefferson)
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 210
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 2

While Henrich and Eichenberg are the big names remaining to fill out this year’s crop of linebackers, Cameron Baker is a name to watch down the stretch. He’s a Council Bluff product who gained national attention after his incredible highlight run as a RB a season ago where he broke attempted tackles from nearly every opposing defender.

Baker is slightly smaller than either Henrich and Eichenberg, but clearly has plenty of athleticism based on the aforementioned highlights. He is being recruited by some smaller schools as a running back, but Iowa prefers him on defense. He doesn’t have quite the same knack for the ball as either of the other guys mentioned, but he’s probably better in coverage and projects more as an outside linebacker because of it.

Baker has been on the Iowa radar for some time now and has had an offer for a while. However, he didn’t commit early and as the class has begun to fill up, one wonders if the staff might be slow playing him at this point until they know more about potentially filling the void in the middle.

The Thomas Jefferson product has offers from Central Michigan and UNI to go along with the Iowa offer. He’s certainly one to monitor as things progress into the fall and we get a more clear picture of the scholarship situation.

If Henrich and Eichenberg both end up elsewhere, it will be interesting to see if the staff pursues a new name who projects as an inside linebacker, pushes for Baker to come aboard or redirects the opening to another potential need. We should know more in a couple months. As always, we’ll keep you posted throughout the summer.