The Iowa Hawkeyes played in one of the biggest games in the last 35 years over the weekend when they defeated the then #4 Penn State Nittany Lions 23-20. It was the first top5 showdown inside Kinnick Stadium since 1985 and the first such showdown to not feature either Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten since 1962.
But the big game was historic not just for its on-field implications, but also because of the potential future impacts it will have on the Iowa roster. The Hawkeye coaching staff pushed all their chips onto the table for last Saturday’s showdown by hosting more than 80 recruits across the classes of 2022, 2023 and beyond. That included some very high profile names that have gotten a lot of publicity.
One name that was a bit of a surprise was Ohio running back Kaleb Johnson. Johnson was one of Iowa’s top priorities at RB in the early goings of the 2022 recruiting cycle, but the high 3-star back committed to Cal over the summer.
That’s why it was a bit of a surprise when he appeared inside Kinnick Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Iowa’s big time performance clearly left an impression on the impressive RB as he announced his decision to flip his commitment from California to Iowa late Monday night.
This Is Really Home . Parents and my coaches talked and I’m Closing my recruitment and only focusing on this school thanks to everyone who has recruited me and made relationships with me. #gohawkeyes!! @LadellBetts46 @TylerBarnesIOWA @CoachBarnett_OL pic.twitter.com/jxOBIfjHFL— Kaleb ✝️ Johnson (@Kj_Superman2) October 13, 2021
Johnson is an impressive back out of Hamilton, Ohio. He’s a bigger body at 6’1” and 210 pounds entering his junior season. He uses that big body to power through would-be tacklers.
But perhaps more impressive is his ability to hit the jets and outrun everyone on the field, despite his size. Johnson boasts 4.4 speed according to his Hudl profile and sure seems to back it up on film.
Outside the breakaway speed, Johnson has great vision and balance that help him identify the hole early and make one cut and go. He sheds arm tackles with ease and is capable of changing direction in the open field without losing ground to pursuing defenders.
Through six games as a senior at Hamilton High, Johnson is sitting 5th in the Greater Miami Conference, which plays in Ohio’s largest division (division 1), in rushing. He’s amassed 767 rushing yards on 92 carries for an 8.3 ypc average. He’s found the endzone 9 times through 6 games while averaging 127.8 yards per game on the ground.
As a junior, Johnson ran for 786 yards and 8 TDs on 114 carries for a 6.9 ypc average. He has just two receptions over the last two seasons, but is averaging 18 yards per catch.
The quality production coupled with his raw talents garnered plenty of college interest for Johnson. He held offers from Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Pitt and virtually every MAC school in addition to Cal, where he was previously committed. Michigan and Wisconsin were also interested at one point before he first committed to the Golden Bears.
Johnson becomes Iowa’s second RB commit in the class of 2022, joining 4-star Florida RB Jaziun Patterson. He becomes Iowa’s 11th commitment overall in the class and the first from the state of Ohio.
Welcome aboard Kaleb Johnson!