The performance we saw from the Iowa defensive line this past season was one of the best we may ever see. The talent, particularly at defensive end, was unbelievable. But since the end of the season, the Hawkeyes have seen Parker Hesse graduate, Anthony Nelson depart for the NFL and backup Brandon Simon enter the transfer portal.
With all that turnover, the Hawkeyes’ recruiting strategy has shifted a bit. After picking up commitments from Michigan defensive end (and potential future defensive tackle) Jalen Hunt and Wisconsin end Jake Karchinski early in the cycle, the Hawkeyes added Iowa-native Chris Reames before the early signing day. But they were still searching for additional depth.
Today they found some as they add an athletic defensive end from Florida in Pensacola-native Taajhir McCall.
TJ makes the call – DL TJ McCall | #Swarm19 pic.twitter.com/5jDVDcIWBa— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) February 6, 2019
McCall has flown largely under the radar, but there’s a lot to like. He’s got an excellent frame at 6’4”, though he’ll clearly need to add weight as he comes in at only 225 pounds. Hawkeye fans know that shouldn’t be a problem with Doyle (drink!).
What McCall brings that cant be taught is some serious speed off the edge. TJ (McCall goes by TJ) uses his length and quickness to get into the backfield with regularity. As a senior at Pine Forest, which is in Florida’s class 6A (of 8), McCall finished with 11 sacks and 88 total tackles.
Both of those are absurd, but the tackles total for a defensive lineman seems particularly good for anyone with concerns about his ability to hold up in the run game. With some added weight, it’s easy to envision McCall adding a bull rush and being a weapon off the edge (as a reminder, future NFL draftee Anthony Nelson came to Iowa weighing only 210 pounds).
McCall comes in rated as a 3-star by 247 Sports and only a 2-star by Rivals. That lower rating likely has more to do with an injury which caused him to miss time as a junior than his physical tools. McCall was down to Army and Navy, with additional offers from Chattanooga and Alabama A&M, before Iowa offered and brought him in for an official visit this past weekend. Just three days later, he’s officially a Hawkeye.
Welcome aboard TJ McCall!