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Iowa Football Recruiting: Hawkeyes Turn to Class of 2021

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With National Signing Day in the rear view mirror, the Iowa coaching staff turns to the class of 2021.

NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-Southern California vs Iowa
Time is a flat circle when you’re a coach on the recruiting trail.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the recruiting class of 2020 officially in the books, the Iowa coaching staff can fully turn their attention to the recruiting class of 2021. They’ve largely been focused there already given 95% of Iowa’ 2020 class was committed before the 2019 season kicked off. That’s by design and something that’s paid tremendous dividends for the staff the last couple recruiting cycles.

Now, as we turn the page on the class of 2020, the Iowa staff is already well on their way to filling out the class of 2021. This cycle’s group is likely to be similar in size and will ultimately end up somewhere just north of 20 overall commits. As of today, the Hawkeyes already have seven verbal commitments secured.

To this point, the class is largely built on in-state recruits. Five of the seven hail from the Hawkeye state. That’s driven by an incredible group of talent from within the state’s borders in 2021. There are 19 high school seniors to-be from Iowa who have FBS offers at this point - more than the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin combined. Of the eight who have committed early, five have chosen Iowa. Of those three to go elsewhere, only running back Jayden Williams was offered by Iowa.

Those seven commitments Iowa has secured include five players on the defensive side of the ball and a pair of offensive linemen. That sounds familiar and is in line with the playbook the staff has been using since the introduction of the early signing period. Secure the in-state talent and the talent up front first. Build momentum and then close with athletes from outside the state. Rinse and repeat.

The 2021 group thus far includes three linebackers after taking just one in 2020. The headliner in Minnesota native Justice Sullivan, a 4-star prospect per both Rivals and 247 Sports. He’s joined by a pair of Iowa natives in Jaden Harrell of Urbandale and Zach Twedt of Story City.

The other two defensive commits have been in the trenches. Both have come from within the state’s boarders. Both had a number of early offers from other Big Ten and Big 12 teams. Defensive tackle Griffin Liddle hails from Bettendorf and is a 3-star prospect who borders on that 4th star. Jeff Bowie is from even closer to Iowa City, growing up in West Branch. He too is a high 3-star prospect according to Rivals. Both could see a bump if they attend camps and perform well.

On the offensive side of the ball, the staff has again focused on the trenches. They secured their first commit in the class from Gennings Dunker, a guard prospect with the potential to slide outside given his frame. Dunker attends the same high school as 2020 defensive line commit Isaiah Bruce. Impressive for a 1A school in the northwest part of the state.

The headliner, though, is in-state tackle Connor Colby. The 4-star prospect chose Iowa over offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and Iowa State. The combination of Colby and Dunker is a tremendous building block for the Hawkeyes as they look to get out to a fast start in 2021 on the offensive side of the ball.

The Iowa staff is likely to now focus on securing a few more in-state commits early while ramping up their recruitment of out-of-state prospects into the spring and summer. They’ll be hosting another junior day at the beginning of March that may drive commitments, but the big even to watch for will be the official visit day in June. Historically, the staff has had an incredibly high hit rate in securing commitments from undecided visitors that weekend.

We’re in the midst of a recruiting dead period that runs through the end of the month. Per the NCAA, that means the staff won’t be visiting any prospects and none will be on Iowa’s campus.

A dead period is that period of time when it is not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on or off the member institution’s campus or to permit official or unofficial visits by prospective student-athletes to the institution’s campus.

As we turn the calendar to March, the dead period turns to a quiet period, allowing prospects to make visits to campus. That’s when Iowa will look to host their next event. The annual official visit weekend is typically scheduled the last available weekend before we re-enter a dead period at the end of June.

As we progress toward those visit weekends in March and June, we’ll take a deeper dive on the position needs and top prospects on the board. We’ll also run down who is expected on campus and who is on commitment watch. The momentum is certainly beginning to build for the class of 2021 with the ink just barely dry on the class of 2020.