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Iowa Football Recruiting: #Swarm2019 Tight End Targets

Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeye staff have a lot of success to sell to tight end prospects. We explore who they’re focusing their attention on in 2019.

Wyoming v Iowa
Noah Fant is poised to be the next in a long line of Iowa tight ends headed to the NFL. Who’s next?
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.

Tight End

Over the years, Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes have developed a reputation for bringing in, developing and sending on to the NFL talent at certain positions. While that’s most widely known to be along both sides of the line, and to a lesser, more recent extent, the defensive backfield, the success has been nearly as robust at the tight end position.

Hawkeye fans are well aware of the talent they have on the roster currently with Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson. The challenge, as always, is identifying the next group of talented players to replace those that will be heading to the NFL in the near future.

As it stands right now, the Hawkeyes have a trio of junior tight ends, a pair of sophomores and a redshirt freshman. They also signed TE Jack Plumb in the class of 2018, but he’ll be moving to the offensive line. With the assumed departure of Noah Fant for the NFL after this season, that leaves only 5 tight ends for 2019 in an offense that will feature multiple on the field at a time more and more.

Given the shrinking numbers, look for Iowa to take a pair of tight ends in the class of 2019. They’ve already got a good one in the fold with Orion, IL native Logan Lee. Lee is a 4-star per 247 Sports and a 3-star elsewhere. He’s got a college-ready body and solid hands, traits that helped him win the WR/TE MVP award at the recent Chicago Rivals 3 Stripe Camp.

The Hawkeyes will plan to be selective with their offers for the other TE scholarship in this class. Here are the top candidates.

Chris Hickman, TE

Hometown: Omaha, NE (Burke)
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 195
Stars: 3

Hickman has been atop the Iowa tight end board in this class for some time. Take a look at the film and you’ll see why. No, that’s not a young Noah Fant, though they are both incredibly athletic, big-bodied tight ends from Omaha.

At 6’6” and around 200 lbs, Hickman is an incredible athlete, much like Fant. He will obviously need to add some bulk at the next level, but he’s got excellent speed and quickness for the position and he has the hands to make use of those traits. Like Fant, the highlights are primarily on the receiving end with some work still to do on the blocking front, but he has the physical tools to be very, very good.

Rivals lists Hickman as a 3-star, but they’re in the minority. 247 Sports and their composite both have him at a 4-star. The offer list reflects that. He’s got opportunities at Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas State, LSU, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Nebraska, Oregon, Purdue, Wisconsin and others.

The Hawkeyes are in a good spot with Hickman, but he has plenty of options.

Erick All, TE

Hometown: Fairfield, OH (Fairfield)
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 215
Stars: 3

While Hickman has been the primary target thus far, Iowa has been in on a couple of other really talented tight ends. Like with Hickman, All is an athletic receiving threat. He’s got a bit smaller frame at 6’4”, but he’s already heavier than Hickman at 215 pounds and that hasn’t come at the expense of speed or quickness.

While his ability to go up and get the ball and run past defenders is what will get the most attention, Hawkeye fans know the value of a tight end who can also block. All can do it all (and his name leaves the door open for all sorts of announcer puns - win-win-win).

The versatility, solid frame and plus athleticism is why All has even more offers than Hickman, despite being a consensus 3-star. He boasts offers from 23 schools, including Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Pitt, Purdue, Wake Forest, Wisconsin and others.

Like Hickman, the competition will be stiff. Iowa’s been in on All for some time so we’ll see if that early relationship can pay dividends.

Justin Stephens, TE

Hometown: Trotwood, OH (Trotwood-Madison)
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 236
Stars: 3

Like All, Justin Stephens is a southwest Ohio product, hailing from Trotwood near Dayton. At 6’5” and north of 235 pounds, Stephens is certainly the biggest of the tight end targets still on the board for the Hawkeyes. With that size comes blocking ability.

Watching the film, the blocking stands out. It’s certainly highlighted much more than on the other videos included here. But that blocking ability doesn’t mean Stephens isn’t a receiving threat. Quite the contrary. Stephens shows solid speed given his size and an innate ability to go up and get the ball in traffic. He could be a tremendous redzone threat with his frame and athleticism.

Stephens boasts a similar pedigree to the other names mentioned here in terms of the offers and recruiting services. He’s a consensus 3-star with 17 offers. Those include the likes of Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, Kentucky, LSU, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse and others.

As things progress over the summer with recruiting services and colleges alike hosting a number of camps, national 7-on-7 tournaments and open evaluation periods, expect the offer lists of the names mentioned here to continue growing. Also expect the list of prospects at the position to earn an Iowa offer to grow.

Some names to monitor include Josiah Miamen of Dunlap, IL. He’s a 3-star prospect with a good build at 6’4” and 225 pounds. He’s got 10 offers already, including one from Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame and a couple of the Ivies. Also keep an eye on Michael Vice out of Alabama. He’s another big body at 6’4” and 240 lbs and shows really good blocking ability. He recently camped at Iowa, a major hurdle for a prospect from the south. While his offer list is currently limited to Ivies, military academies and mid-majors, we could see the Hawkeyes add their name to the list after their evaluations.

As always, we’ll keep you posted throughout the summer.