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Iowa Football Recruiting: Hawkeyes to Host Largest Visit Weekend in Program History

There will be a lot riding on the environment and the outcome Saturday night, far beyond this season.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Iowa
There will be a swarm of recruits at Kinnick this weekend.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawkeyes have a lot riding on Saturday night’s matchup with #10 Penn State. Not only do their hopes for a run at the Big Ten West title rely on winning big games against high level conference opponents, but the Iowa staff has looked to leverage the anticipated atmosphere to help bolster recruiting.

The game is set to kick off shortly after 6:30pm CT. That’s a minute after sunset. It’s also the perfect time to host recruits. Fall visits are notoriously difficult to coordinate with high school football on Friday nights and travel to campus the next morning. An evening kick allows prospects plenty of time to play their game on Friday and soak up time around the team and campus on Saturday.

That’s what the Iowa coaching staff is banking on this weekend as they look to host the largest number of visitors for game day in program history.

The list will include all but a couple of the 22 current commits in the class of 2020. In addition, the Hawkeyes’ biggest remaining target for the class, 4-star TE Theo Johnson, Will also be on hand.

Johnson is a Noah Fant clone from Canada who’s been on campus a number of times already. He’s rumored to be down to Iowa, Michigan and Penn State. Fittingly, he was in Ann Arbor to watch Michigan host Iowa a week ago. Now he’s in Iowa City to catch the Hawkeyes hosting Penn State. Next week he’ll be in State College to watch the Nittany Lions host Michigan.

Beyond 2020, there are more than 50 recruits anticipated in the classes of 2021 and 2022. Among them are all the commits in each of those classes.

In case you missed it, Iowa already has a tremendous start on both 2021 and 2022. That’s a tailwind from filling up the class of 2020 so quickly. The Hawkeyes already have 3 commits in the class of 2021 and they’re good ones, including 4-star OL Connor Colby. The class currently ranks 15th in the nation and the staff is looking to make a big splash this weekend.

Among the visitors are some big name in-state recruits. That includes local product 4-star DL TJ Bollers of Tiffin, as well as Ankeny WR Brody Brecht, Bettendorf DT Griffin Liddle, Story City LB Zach Twedt (a current ISU verbal commit) and TE Thomas Fidone of Council Bluffs, who recently picked up an offer from LSU. That level of talent in the state allows the staff to lock up a solid core early in the process and focus their efforts in fertile recruiting grounds like Florida and Georgia as the cycle moves along.

In fact, they’ve already begun those efforts. While the visitor list for this weekend is largely made up native Iowans and preps from surrounding states like Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota, the late kick and compelling matchup have enticed visitors from Florida, Alabama, Georgia and more.

In 2022, Iowa currently has the top recruiting class in the nation. That’s not a typo. It’s also a bit misleading. Iowa only has one commit, but it’s a good one in Gowrie native Aaron Graves, who projects as a likely 3/4-star defensive end. Graves will be in Iowa City this weekend along with several other 2022 prospects. That includes OL Deylin Hasert, teammate of 2020 commit Yahya Black, as well as St. Louis DB Toriano Pride Wisconsin OL Carson Hinzman and DB Xavier Nwankpa, former teammate of 2020 RB commit Gavin Williams.

It’s not just football looking to capitalize on the big game. Iowa hoops has at least five visitors on deck spread across three recruiting classes. The list includes a pair of big men in the class of 2020 making their official visits.

Xavier Foster is the name Hawkeye fans know and have been following for years. This will be Foster’s second official visit thanks to new NCAA rules allowing juniors to take officials. He’ll be joined by fellow big man Josh Ogundele of Worcester, Mass (originally from the UK).

In the class of 2021, Fran and company will have another big man in Treyton Thompson of Indiana, as well as wing prospect Payton Sandfort of Waukee. They’ll be joined by two Iowa PGs in the class of 2022 in Tamin Lipsey of Ames and Trey Lewis of Johnston.

All in all, it’s going to be a massive recruiting weekend for not only football, but basketball as well. The atmosphere in Kinnick should be electric with a night game, alternate uniforms, spirit striping of the stadium and a flyover pregame. Can the coaching staff’s capitalize with some commitments? Only time will tell.