Xavier Nwankpa’s decision about where to play college football was always destined to be a major event, The highest rated football prospect to ever come out of the state of Iowa, Nwankpa has been on the radar of many Hawkeye fans since he was a freshman or sophomore in high school. The buzz surrounding Nwankpa only increased along with his recruiting stock, as the Iowa native was courted by many of the nation’s premiere football programs. The longer Iowa stayed in the mix with teams like Ohio State and Notre Dame, the more the anticipation grew. By the time Nwankpa was named the 2021 Iowa High School Football Player of the Year, the hype surrounding him was inescapable.
Now, at long last, Nwankpa is finally a Hawkeye.
Xavier Nwankpa, Safety
Wt: 190 lbs
Hometown: Altoona, IA (Southeast Polk)
Stars: 247 Sports - 5; Rivals - 5
Nwankpa is a five-star prospect according to both Rivals and 247 and is rated by both services as the top safety recruit in the nation. Rivals believes Nwankpa to be the 21st best prospect in the 2022 recruiting class regardless of position, while 247 is even higher on him, ranking him at #11. Nwankpa’s commitment ceremony was even televised by CBS Sports and the network’s resident Hawkeye fan Chris Hassel.
Hawkeye fans who do not follow recruitment may be wondering whether all of the hype surrounding Nwankpa is actually justified. While you can never say for certain how a high school player will translate to Power Five college football, Nwankpa looks like as much of a sure thing as one can reasonably expect to find. He has tremendous cover skills, great mobility, excellent closing speed, and a rangy frame which allow him to lock down a significant portion of the field. From blocking kicks
to torching defenders on offense and special teams,
to rising up in traffic to catch a game winning Hail Mary,
Nwankpa excelled at every stage of the high school game. With proven defensive back guru Phil Parker on hand to shepherd Nwankpa through his collegiate development, the smart money is on Iowa’s favorite son and newest signee having a terrific career in the black and gold.