Signing day for the college football recruiting class of 2020 has officially come and gone. While Iowa’s day was relatively quiet on Wednesday, it made plenty of noise with the class on the whole.
The Hawkeyes finished with 22 total commitments signing national letters of intent. Of those, 20 signed back during the early signing period in December. The class ranks 35th nationally according to Rivals and 34th according to 247 Sports. That puts them 8th in the Big Ten according to both rating services, behind Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland and Purdue. The class was ranked 23rd and 24th in Rivals and 247 Sports respectively following the early signing period.
With Iowa’s emphasis on line play, the class was heavy on the big boys as you’d expect. At the end of the day, Iowa inked commitments from seven defensive linemen and a pair of offensive linemen. However, one of those defensive linemen, Kansas-native Mason Richman, is headed for a position change and will be on the offensive line at Iowa. Additionally, as was noted on signing day, defensive lineman Michael Lois may never play a down as he awaits medical clearance to participate in football again or declare for a medical scholarship.
Of those defensive linemen who are expected to stay on that side of the ball and be medically able to play, Iowa has some big time potential. Council Bluffs native Logan Jones was an All-American and shows some serious potential. That’s also the case for Yahyah Black. Though the small town Minnesota native comes in with less national acclaim, he was the source of a fight between Kelvin Bell and Tim Polasek for his services after he wrote his reason for being at the Iowa football camp as his love for hitting people.
Outside of the emphasis on the guys up front, the class was a mix of positions. Phil Parker got himself three new defensive backs, including the annual Phil Parker special with 2-star Brendan Deasfernandes. The defense also added a linebacker in Jay Higgins, who put up some of the most absurd high school stats you’ll see.
On offense, the class started with the addition of a quarterback many have already dubbed the heir apparent in Deuce Hogan. The Texas-native has the physical attributes of every QB stereotype you’ve seen and the charisma to match. He’ll be coming to Iowa City this summer with a 4-star rating and an eye on making an impact as soon as possible, though that’ll be difficult as former 4-star Spencer Petras seems to have a strangle hold on the starting spot for now.
Elsewhere, Hogan was handed some weapons. The Hawkeyes inked a pair wide receivers in the class, headlined by Connecticut athlete Diante Vines, who looks an awful lot like Tyrone Tracy did for the Hawkeyes this past season.
As you might expect with the tremendous success of Iowa tight ends in the NFL, the Hawkeyes lured in a pair of really talented preps at the position in 2020. That includes 3-star Texas-native Elijah Yelverton, who had offers from a literal who’s who of college football bluebloods.
In the backfield, Derrick Foster made life easy on Gary Dolphin by adding a pair of Williams. Des Moines native Gavin Williams will be joined by Chicago-native Leshon Williams to make a tandem that should add a nice compliment to the skillset of Tyler Goodson in the next year or two.
Last, but not least, Iowa capped its recruiting class in the most Iowa way possible: with a punter. After toying with the fanbase and media alike, talking about the punting crisis in America, Kirk Ferentz went out and grabbed himself an Australian punter who has never played a down of football in Tory Taylor.
While it may seem like Ferentz is simply leaning in to the jokes on punting at this point, the Hawkeyes will now have three punters on the roster, including two on scholarship with Ryan Gersonde still dealing with injuries, the addition of Taylor and the transfer of North Dakota State punter Nick Phelps back in January.
At the end of the day, the Hawkeyes addressed all their needs with the class of 2020. They took at least one player at every major position group, including on special teams. They also added a group of 9 (and counting) walk-ons this year, including several guys who turned down offers from FCS schools.
The class came together early, with more than 90% of commits signing during the early signing period and 95% committing before the start of the 2019 season. That’s in large part due to the new strategy employed by the coaching staff to take advantage of the early signing period and advanced recruiting calendar.
Iowa has been out in front of the recent changes and building their classes earlier and earlier. As of today, the Hawkeyes already have 7 commits in the class of 2021 that’s expected to be similar in size to the class of 2020. They also have a commitment in the class of 2022 already lined up.
That 2021 number will likely be closer to 10 by the time the Hawkeyes host their big visit day in June. If the last couple cycles are any indication, we should expect to know who almost every commit in that class will be by the end of summer.
This new normal means National Signing Day in February is less exciting for Hawkeye fans. It also means Iowa’s recruiting classes are slowly creeping higher and higher. The changes have been helpful for the Hawkeyes, whose last several classes have ranked in the low 40s (and now mid-30s in 2020) after years of being ranked in the 50s.
The Hawkeyes have long prided themselves on finding diamonds in the rough that defy the rankings, but rankings matter. In aggregate, more higher rated recruits correlates with more wins. Iowa is getting more higher rated recruits. That trend continued in the class of 2020 and looks to be continuing further into the class of 2021.