Iowa football has a few staples that never change. Zone blocking. Run first offense. Starting tight ends making the NFL. 4-3 cover 2 defense.
Well, maybe some things do change. Despite a history of running essentially the same defense for almost the entirety of Kirk Ferentz ‘s 20 years at Iowa, Phil Parker has found a variation he likes better given the changing landscape of college offenses.
That change comes with a need for more defensive backs and likely fewer linebackers. In the class of 2020, the staff is likely to only take one. That’s exactly the number of linebacker prospects they had in town for this weekend’s big official visit weekend.
Today, that’s also how many they have committed.
Indianapolis native Jay Higgins isn’t your prototypical Hawkeye linebacker, but he fits the mold the Iowa staff has been moving toward with this shift in defense. He’s a bit on the short side standing just 6’ tall, but he makes up for the height deficiency with speed and great instincts.
Higgins is a sure tackler and is very good against the run, diagnosing plays and meeting the ballcarrier at the point of attack. In the passing game, his quickness and athleticism are an asset for the Hawkeyes who continue to ask their linebackers to cover in space.
Higgins chose the Hawkeyes over 10 other offers, including Air Force, Tulane, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Ball State, Bowling Green, Miami of Ohio, Toledo and Western Illinois. He keeps the Indianapolis pipeline wide open for Iowa, who has hit the area hard with Kelvin Bell making some serious inroads over the last several years.
As already indicated, the addition of Higgins likely wraps up Iowa’s pursuit of linebackers on this class, though under the right circumstances they may add one late in the cycle. While the Hawkeyes are full at the moment at the position, they’re certainly still hoping for more commits from this weekend’s visitors.
Welcome aboard Jay Higgins!