College football is a wild game. Regardless of how any individual season turns out, there is always an opportunity to rectify or totally overshadow those on-field results with off-field momentum or lack thereof. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program and if nothing else, it provides fans an opportunity to claim victory and grow their excitement for seasons to come.
For Hawkeye fans, there are conflicting feelings on recruiting. Under Kirk Ferentz, this program has been built on development, largely of under-recruited 2- and 3-star athletes who had few high major offers outside of Iowa. For the Hawkeyes, when thinking about any potential impacts from recruiting rankings, a quote from the venerable Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding:
But on the other hand, it’s difficult to not get caught up in the rankings and ratings and stars when your program is doing well. For Iowa, that’s where the Hawkeyes now find themselves. After a slow start to this cycle given the inability to have prospects on campus as juniors during the pandemic in 2020, the Hawkeyes have seen their on-field success in 2021 drive some serious momentum as we marched toward the early signing period.
That momentum has included a slew of game day visits with Iowa hosting a major recruiting weekend for their top-5 win over Penn State back in October. From there, we’ve seen a pair of high profile commitments for Iowa in the class of 2022 (as well as another one in 2023 just this week) and a whole lot of buzz that we might see more signing day commits than at any time in recent memory.
As things stand entering the early signing period, Iowa has 12 total prospects committed. That’s on the low end for Iowa historically and on the lower end nationally. The low volume of commitments has Iowa down a bit in the team rankings nationally. According to 247 Sports, Iowa ranks 40th nationally while Rivals has the Hawkeyes at 43rd.
However, it’s important to note that the national recruiting services include the top-20 commitments for each school in their team rankings and use a points system rather than average star rating. Thus, if Iowa simply added a handful of 2-star or even unrated commitments, they would climb in the rankings because of sheer volume.
Fortunately, the Hawkeyes are expected to add that volume on signing day without sacrificing star power. While this class was initially expected to top out around 15 total prospects, the combination of players entering the transfer portal, declaring for the NFL Draft and opting not to take a 6th year due to COVID has opened up more scholarships. The Hawkeyes are now expected to take closer to 18 and potentially as many as 20 total commitments in the class before the late signing period closes next spring.
Let’s revisit some of the key details to know on signing day.
Open Scholarships for 2022: 21
Current Commitments: 12
Scholarships Remaining: 9
Potential Super Seniors: 7
The quick math there tells you Iowa is constrained on the number of commitments they can still take. It’s easy to see why the staff had initially guided to only 15 total prospects in this class. But at the end of the day, it’s unlikely we get all seven of those potential super seniors opting to come back.
For example, Riley Moss has already accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl. That’s a pretty strong indication he’s not planning to return (it’s still possible for him to withdraw if he were to get less favorable feedback from the NFL). Zach VanValkenburg is also likely to make some money in the NFL so returning is unlikely.
But there are guys like Jack Koerner or Chalie Jones who could op to come back for a 6th year so the Hawkeyes will shake out somewhere below that 21 open scholarships number with any leftovers used for some combination of transfer portal additions (Iowa has already been linked to a handful of offensive and defensive linemen in the portal) and rewarding walk-ons.
At the end of the day, expect around five new commitments on national signing day for Iowa. That could be as high as seven, but is not likely to be much lower. Again, the Hawkeyes have been building momentum.
Here’s a look at the class as it stands entering signing day.
Xavier Nwankpa, 5-star Safety from Pleasant Hill, IA
Aaron Graves, 4-star Defensive End from Gowrie, IA
Kaleb Johnson, 4-star Running Back from Hamilton, OH
Carson May, 4-star Quarterback from Jones, OK
Jaziun Patterson, 3-star Running Back from Deerfield Beach, FL
Jacob Bostick, 3-star Wide Receiver from Palatine, IL
Caden Crawford, 3-star Defensive End from Lansing, KS
Kale Krogh, 3-star Offensive Lineman from Huxley, IA
Cael Vanderbush, 3-star Tight End from Plainfield, IN
Addison Ostrenga, 3-star Tight End from Sun Prairie, WI
Jack Dotzler, 3-star Offensive Lineman from Waunakee, WI
Jayden Montgomery, 2-star Linebacker from Suamico, WI
Signings are expected to begin rolling in during the early morning hours on Wednesday and will run throughout the day. Several players have announced signing day ceremonies both during and after the school day with some extending into the evening hours on Wednesday. That’s in addition to the likely new commitments that will roll in throughout the day as well.
Check back here as we’ll have updates for each commitment and each new signing as they happen. We’ll also recap the class and take an early look at the class of 2023. All those stories will be available via this stream.