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Iowa Football Recruiting: Hawkeyes Host Official Visit Weekend For Top 2020 Prospects, Current Commits

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The Hawkeyes are off to a hot start this summer. Could they be effectively done with the class of 2020 by the end of the weekend?

Northern Illinois v Iowa
With the Iowa Hawkeyes’ recruiting class of 2020 nearly full already, Kirk Ferentz is all smiles heading into their big official visit weekend.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

When the NCAA introduced an early signing period for football, there were a number of questions about how it might impact the recruiting timeline for prospects and coaching staffs. While Kirk Ferentz had long been a proponent of such a change, nobody knew exactly how the Hawkeyes would deal with it.

The answer has been to bump up the timeline on official visits. While Iowa would have historically hosted a big visit day after the end of the regular season in December, they now host a number of their commitments in June. Along with those commitments, the Hawkeyes look to bring in a number of their top prospects on the same weekend.

A year ago, that big weekend ended with all but one visitor committing to Iowa. That included the likes of DL Jalen Hunt, DB Dane Belton and OL Justin Britt. This year, Iowa is going even bigger than in the past.

With the success they’ve had since the change, the Hawkeyes have sped up their entire recruiting cycle. Now, in the middle of June, they are sitting at 14 commits already with the addition of four new prospects in the last week or so. That leaves somewhere between 8 and 10 spots on the bus for this class.

That coincides nicely with the number of visitors the Iowa staff has lined up for this weekend. In total, the Hawkeyes will be hosting more than 20 recruits. That list includes nearly all of the current commits from the class of 2020, as well as several of their top targets.

Here’s a rundown of all the uncommitted prospects who will be in Iowa City this weekend.

Linebacker

The Visitors

Jay Higgins, LB
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN (Brebeuf Jesuit Prep)
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 209
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

Indianapolis native Jay Higgins is the only linebacker slated to be on campus this weekend and he may be the only one Iowa hosts this cycle.

Higgins is a bit on the short side for a typical linebacker at Iowa, standing just 6’ tall, but he plays big. He makes up for the height deficiency with speed and great instincts. He’s a sure tackler and is very good against the run.

Currently, Higgins has 11 total offers, including Air Force, Tulane, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Ball State, Bowling Green, Miami-OH, Toledo and Western Illinois in addition to Iowa.

The Outlook: Iowa is likely to only take one linebacker in this class. Thus far, Higgins has been one of two primary targets, but he’s the one on campus for the big visit weekend. Expect him to be a Hawkeye come next week.

Wide Receiver
The Visitors

Kaevion Mack, WR
Hometown: Peoria, IL (Peoria)
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

Kaevion Mack is your classic under the radar recruit that Iowa typically snags close to signing day. Formerly a Northern Illinois (where WR coach Kelton Copeland was previously employed) commit, Mack has a good frame at 6’2” to go with solid speed and a nice amount of wiggle.

If Mack was from the Chicagoland rather than Peoria, his offer list would be full of power five programs. As it stands, he holds offers from Northern Illinois, Ball State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Indiana State in addition to Iowa.

Diante Vines, WR
Hometown: Watertown, CN (The Taft School)
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 187
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

Diante Vianes is slightly smaller than Mack at 6’1”, but he’s got a bit more juice as the kids say. He’s a good route runner with solid speed to consistently get behind high school defenses. He also spent time as a return man and was a varsity QB at one point.

Those attributes have garnered offers from Boston College, Army, Navy, Fordham, Howard, Sacred Heart, Monmouth, Merrimack, Bryant, Georgetown, Holy Cross and Lehigh in addition to Iowa. And just this week, Vines added an offer from Syracuse, who may be tough to beat.

Outlook: The Hawkeyes were originally expected to take three receivers in this class. However, they made some big time additions this offseason via the transfer market, adding walk one from Central Michigan and Buffalo, as well as scholarship WR Oliver Martin who transferred from Michigan.

Now, it’s possible Iowa only takes a pair at the position. With the addition of Florida native Quavon Matthews this week, that leaves a need for just one more commitment. Expect Kaevion Mack to take that seat on the bus this weekend with Diante Vines likely needing some time to mull over his new Syracuse offer.

Tight End

The Visitors

Luke Lachey, TE
Hometown: Grandview Heights, OH (Grandview Heights)
Height: 6’7”
Weight: 220
Stars: 247 Sports - 4 Rivals - 3

In case you missed it, Iowa put a pair of tight ends in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. As a result, the Hawkeyes have made the cut for a number of highly touted tight end recruits in this year’s class. That includes Luke Lachey, an Ohio State legacy who will be visiting Iowa City this weekend.

Lachey has a huge frame at 6’7” (C.J. Fiedorowicz anyone?) already. What makes him special, though, is how he uses it. Lachey has decent speed but is really good at going up and getting the ball at its high point. He’ll be a lethal redzone weapon at the next level.

That skillset has garnered Lachey 27 offers, including 16 from power 5 schools. That includes the likes of Michigan State, Nebraska, LSU, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisville, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Iowa State, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Akron, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Liberty, Ohio, Princeton, Toledo, Tulane, Yale and Youngstown State in addition to Iowa.

The Outlook: The Hawkeyes are likely to take three tight ends in this class if the right guys want to get on the bus. Lachey would certainly be one of those guys. He already camped at Ohio State and left without an offer, so it’s possible he’s ready to make the call after this weekend.

If not, Iowa will likely start working on their next tier of tight ends knowing they may ultimately get a late addition from a big name like Lachey or Toronto 4-star TE Theo Johnson who visited earlier this month.

Defensive Back

The Visitors

AJ Lawson, S/CB
Hometown: Decatur, IL (MacArthur)
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 180
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

Much like Kaevion Mack, AJ Lawson is the classic late cycle recruit Iowa has historically stolen from a MAC school close to signing day. That’s where most of his offers have come to date, with the exception of Iowa and Minnesota. But things are shaping up differently this year with Iowa focused on locking in their targets early to focus the home stretch on a few select recruits. And if one position coach has earned fans’ trust in the evaluation room it’s Phil Parker.

Like so many Parker recruits before him, Lawson is a guy who immediately jumps off the screen on film and leaves you wondering why he doesn’t have more offers. At 6’2” and 180, he has great length for a defensive back and he is consistently the fastest guy on the field.

Lawson made plays on both offense and defense as a junior, but Iowa is recruiting him at DB. Rivals projects him at safety with his length, but he shows good hips and great instincts at the corner and has very good ball skills.

Omari Porter, CB
Hometown: Auburn, AL (Auburn)
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 180
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

The son of an Auburn assistant coach, Omari Porter is a highly sought after corner from Alabama. Though with his dad being a coach, Porter reportedly did not grow up an Auburn fan. That’s probably best as Auburn is one of the few schools not to offer him as of yet. Those that have include Stanford, Virginia, Oregon, Nebraska, Michigan, Kentucky, Cal, Georgia Tech, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, and UAB, in addition to Iowa.

So what do all those coaching staffs see in Porter? For starters, a great frame for a corner at 6’1” and 180 pounds. More importantly though, Porter is excellent on the outside against very good competition.

He shows good hips, is great at jamming a receiver in press and seems to be able to run with anyone. He’s also got good instincts and shows a good break when the ball is in the air. Sounds a lot like a Joshua Jackson starter kit.

Reginald Bracy, S
Hometown: Mobile, AL (St. Paul’s)
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 190
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

The last of Iowa’s three defensive backs visiting this weekend is another from the state of Alabama. Unlike Porter, though, Reginald Bracy is a pure safety rather than a corner.

Porter reminds a bit of 2019 commit Sebastian Castro. He does well enough in dropback coverage and shows good ability to read a QB, but where he really excels is his instincts in the running game. He’s excellent at diagnosing a play and appears to be shot out of a cannon once he commits. He’s also an excellent tackler.

Those skills have earned him offers from Indiana, Navy, Air Force, Central Michigan, Southern Miss, Troy, UAB, and South Alabama in addition to Iowa.

The Outlook: The Iowa depth chart is absolutely loaded in the secondary, as you might expect from a school that’s had as much success putting guys into the league at the position as Iowa has. That said, the Hawkeyes love the versatility of defensive backs from an athleticism standpoint and for special teams. Add to that Phil Parker’s transition to more of a 4-2-5 base defense and Iowa is likely to keep the cupboard quite full. Expect Iowa to take at least three DBs in this class, but it’s not hard to envision them adding a fourth late in the cycle if they have an open spot.

Assuming Iowa targets just three commits early in the cycle, they only have two openings with the addition of Florida native Keylen Gulley earlier this week. Look for both of those spots to fill up this weekend. Based on offer lists alone, Lawson and Bracy seem like the most likely candidates.

Defensive End

The Visitors

Aaron Witt, DE
Hometown: Winona, MN (Winona)
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 230
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

Defensive end Aaron Witt was one of Iowa’s early targets at the position and long seemed like a candidate for an early commitment. Instead he visited and committed to home state Minnesota, only to later decommit like so many others under PJ Fleck. Now he’s back in Iowa City for an official visit.

So what do the Hawkeyes like about him? For starters, he’s got a great frame at 6’5” and 230 pounds. There’s a lot to work with there for a guy with a great first step and a good combination of speed and power. Witt has a nice push-pull move he’s able to use at the high school level, as well as a swim off the edge.

In addition to the Iowa and Minnesota offers, Witt also has offers from Iowa State, Oregon State, Wyoming, Toledo, Ohio, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and UNI.

Deontae Craig, DE
Hometown: Culver, IN (Culver Academies)
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 225
Stars: 247 Sports - 3 Rivals - 3

Indiana defensive end Deontae Craig is one of those players that makes your jaw drop the first time you watch him play. On film, he’s bigger, faster and stronger than everyone else on the field. At 6’3” and 225, he has a good frame to fill out even further while keeping his incredible burst.

That burst, power and speed off the edge are why Craig has an offer list that looks more like a 5 star’s than that of a 3 star.

In addition to Iowa, Craig holds offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Indiana, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Washington State, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Cincinnati, Ball State, and Indiana State. The competition is certainly going to be stiff.

Bryce Mostella, DE
Hometown: Kentwood, MI (East Kentwood)
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 230
Stars: 247 Sports - 4 Rivals - 3

As impressive as the offer list is for Craig, Bryce Mostella May have him topped with offers from Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Miami, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Syracuse, Boston College, Cincinnati, Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Western Michigan in addition to Iowa.

So why are the blue bloods all over the Michigan native? Turn on the film. Like Craig, Mostella is an explosive athlete with a great combination of power and speed. But at 6’6” and 230 pounds, Mostella has an even bigger frame with more room for development and a longer reach off the edge.

Iowa has been in on Mostella for some time, but like with Craig, the competition is clearly going to be very stiff.

The Outlook: If it seems like Iowa already has a bunch of defensive ends in this class, you’re right. But Iowa is likely to take 6 or even 7 (!!!) before things are all done. Such is life when you’re sending guys to the NFL early.

The Hawkeyes would likely take all three of this weekend’s visitors if they wanted to commit on the spot. It’s more likely only a couple of them do and Iowa continues to pursue another later in the cycle when they can focus their attention on their top remaining targets. Witt seems most likely to make an early decision with Craig or Mostella being a pleasant surprise.

Overall Outlook

The Hawkeye staff has more than 20 prospects coming to town this weekend, including nearly a dozen current commits and nearly as many of their top remaining targets. It’s one of the biggest single visit weekends in memory for the Hawkeyes.

With 14 commits already lined up and somewhere between 8-10 openings remaining, the Iowa staff is looking to close in on filling their class by the end of the weekend. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. There are a number of prospects likely to commit while on campus with still more possible shortly thereafter.

Furthermore, the staff has been bringing in other top targets in advance of this weekend with four of the six committing in the last week. The momentum is building for the class of 2020 and it may just be enough to fill it out in the next week.