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Iowa Football Recruiting: #Swarm2019 Defensive Back Targets

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NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa
Replacing a guy like Joshua Jackson isn’t easy, but if anyone can do it, it’s Phil Parker.
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.


Defensive Back

The wild success the Iowa Hawkeyes have had identifying, developing and sending defensive back talent on to the next level is no secret. Iowa fans have been downright spoiled with an embarrassment of riches in the secondary in recent past. The lineage is remarkable from guys like Bob Sanders to Sean Considine to Charles Godfrey to Bradley Fletcher to Amari Spievey to Tyler Sash to Shaun Prater to Micah Hyde and ultimately to Desmond King and Josh Jackson.

Who deserves credit for that lineage is up for debate. While it’s unquestionable Phil Parker deserves an enormous amount of applause for his role in developing those guys into the NFL players they would become, at least some credit rests with the coaches who identified their talents in high school and brought them to Parker, for he did not recruit them alone.

As we look to the 2019 class, we eye the next crop of defensive backs the staff can identify for Parker to turn into NFL talent. This group will need to replace a pair of graduating safeties in Brandon Snyder and Jake Gervase. But with four safeties in the class of 2018, that task is already underway.

The cupboard is relatively full, as you might expect given Iowa’s success in the secondary. Heading into the 2019 season, there will be 7 cornerbacks and 5 safeties on scholarship. So this year’s crop of defensive backs figures to be relatively small - likely only 2, maybe 3 commits.

What’s more, the Hawkeyes already have two commitments in the class. Sebastian Castro, a safety from Illinois, and Dane Belton, a corner from Florida. With those two in the fold, the staff is ostensibly done in 2019.

However, as the cycle progresses there will inevitably be spots which open up. When that happens, the Hawkeyes are likely to target the best available players. It’s quite possible one or more of those is a defensive back.

Here’s a look at the top possibilities as things stand today.

Josh DeBerry, CB

Hometown: Warren, MI (De La Salle)
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 165
Stars: 3

Josh DeBerry is the only pure defensive back listed here as it’s likely the staff focuses their attention on athletes with the ability to fill multiple roles given the current depth chart. While DeBerry may not play the multiple positions of the others listed here, he’s a quality corner.

He finished his junior campaign with 67 tackles and 7 INTs for De La Salle. He doesn’t have the length of Hawkeye commit Dane Belton and is likely a bit under his list height of 5’11”, and at 165 pounds he isn’t a big guy, but DeBerry shows a knack for the ball. He’s good in coverage and despite his slight build is very solid in run support.

He currently has offers from 13 schools, including Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kentucky and Northwestern. Should the staff decide they need a pure corner in the class, DeBerry is a name to watch.

Isaiah Azubuike, ATH

Hometown: St. Louis, MO (Lutheran North)
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 195
Stars: 3

If the staff do, in fact, turn to a versatile athlete to fill an open spot, Isaiah Azubuike is likely to be near the top of the list. Azubuike excels at Lutheran North both as a running back and as a defensive back. While Iowa is theoretically full at both spots, the ability to move sides of the ball makes Azubuike a potentially good fit, especially given rumors of potential departures of late.

While a bit on the shorter side for a prototypical safety prospect, he has a good build for a running back at 5’11” and 195 pounds. But he brings something on the defensive side of the ball that Iowa fans will love. That’s toughness, a knack for the ball and the ability to deliver a blow. It’s why the Iowa staff has compared him to Bob Sanders.

Azubuike has offers from 15 schools, including a good mix of Ivies and power five programs - a recipe Iowa has had success with in the past. The offer list includes Dartmouth, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisville and Syracuse.

With the high praise from the coaching staff and the versatility, Azubuike’s is a name to watch as we learn more about the true size of Iowa’s class of 2019.

Kendall Abdur-Rahman, ATH

Hometown: Edwardsville, IL (Edwardsville)
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 175
Stars: 3

Much like Azubuike, Kendall Abdur-Rahman is much more of an athlete than a pure defensive back. Abdur-Rahman, however, is a different type of athlete. He’s longer and more lean.

At the high school level Abdur-Rahman makes his hay avoiding tacklers like the plague at the QB position. His raw athleticism is abundant and he’s incredibly shifty with the ball in his hands, meaning he could project well as a WR at the next level. He also could slide to the other side of the ball and play some corner, however, and that versatility could create an opening for him with the Hawkeyes.

Abdur-Rahman’s versatility and elusiveness have garnered him some attention on the recruiting trail. While the sheer volume of offers isn’t huge at 11, the quality is unmistakable. The list includes the likes of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Michigan State.

Should Iowa pursue Abdur-Rahman, the competition will be stiff. However, his roots in Edwardsville may provide an inside track for the Hawkeyes with their rising star defensive end, AJ Epenesa, being Abdur-Rahman’s former teammate.

Kobe Myers, ATH

Hometown: Waterford, MI (Waterford Mott)
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 190
Stars: 3

Like Abdur-Rahman, Kobe Myers is an athlete who has the potential to play multiple positions. And like Abdur-Rahman, Myers is primarily used as his Waterford Mott team’s quarterback.

At 6’1”, Myers has the most length of any of the names mentioned herein. That could be a plus in the secondary. In addition, Myers has seen time at corner and shown the ability to press receivers and hold his own in coverage. We’ve seen Phil Parker make NFL contributors out of players with similar abilities at this stage.

Myers currently has offers from 8 programs, primarily mid-majors, but also Cincinnati and Syracuse in addition to Iowa. He certainly appears to be a sleeper in this class and a name to follow as we get into the fall.

We’ll continue to monitor the scholarship situation and how the Hawkeyes progress in their quest to fill out the class. As the focus narrows, we should get a much more clear picture of where the staff is focused.