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Iowa Football Recruiting: A Look at the Class of 2023

Is Iowa poised for it’s best class ever?

Syndication: HawkCentral
With the class of 2022 largely in hand, who will join the swarm in 2023?
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The proverbial ink is barely dry on Iowa’s recruiting class of 2022 early signees, but college football recruiting never ends and the Hawkeye football staff has already put in an immense amount of legwork on laying the foundation for the next class: the recruiting class of 2023. That, of course, started several months ago, but has really picked up steam in recent months.

While the Hawkeyes spent most of the season hosting a flurry of 2022 recruits in an effort to make up for lost time with a class that was unable to take visits for more than a year, they also took the opportunity to get a number of 2023 prospects on campus. That came to a head the weekend before last week’s national signing day as Iowa hosted more than a dozen of their top targets in the class.

With the focus now shifted entirely to filling a few final spots in that class of 2022 and using that momentum to get a strong start to the following class, we’re taking an early look ahead at what could be in store for the Hawkeyes in 2023.

The Commits

While the Hawkeyes inked 17 in the class of 2022 last week, they’ve already got three verbal commitments lined up for the class of 2023. The most recent came just a week ago when 4-star New Jersey quarterback Marco Lainez announced he had chosen Iowa over offers from Michigan State, Pitt and several others.

Lainez posted some absurd numbers as a junior at The Hun School in Princeton, New Jersey, including a completion percentage over 80%. But most notably, he’s mobile. That’s not to say he’s a dual threat, but he’s very good at stepping up in the pocket, evading pressure and making an accurate throw on the move.

The new Hawkeye signal-caller is the only commitment in the class to-date not from within the state’s borders. He joins Norwalk defensive tackle Maddux Borcherding-Johnson. MBJ is a big body for the middle of Kelvin Bell’s defensive line, measuring in at 6’3” and 277 pounds as a junior. The 3-star prospects projects well as a cog in the middle of Iowa’s defense with another 20 pounds of bulk and his explosion off the ball.

The final commit already in line for 2023 is even more local, hailing from right in Iowa City. Ben Kueter is a City High product who’s a top-20 wrestling prospect and intends to wrestle as well as play football for the Hawkeyes. On the gridiron, he’s a 3-star linebacker prospect with a great frame at 6’3” and 220 pounds as a junior. He’s got great instincts, tremendous closing speed and a lot of athleticism playing both ways.

It’s a great start to what may be one of the best classes Iowa has put together in the better part of two decades.

Top In-State Targets

One of the key drivers of Iowa’s recent uptick in recruiting has been a surge in talent within the state’s borders. That culminated in the class of 2022 with the highest rated prospect the state has ever produced, 5-star safety Xavier Nwankpa. Nwankpa, of course, signed with Iowa last week, making him the second highest rated Hawkeye commitment in program history.

But Nwankpa wasn’t even the highest rated recruit on his own team. That honor goes to 5-star 2023 tackle Kadyn Proctor. Proctor is the #6 prospect in the country and the #1 offensive tackle according to both Rivals and 247 Sports. He’s a massive prospect both figuratively and literally, at 6’8” and 335 pounds as a junior. Proctor has been to Iowa City for seven visits over the last two years, including Iowa’s big win over Penn State and the big visit weekend the staff held just before signing day. Nothing is a guarantee, but the Hawkeyes appear to be sitting very well with the Southeast Polk product.

The talent pool within the state of Iowa is deeper than just Proctor, however. Iowa also has offered at one point or another eight different prospects from the Hawkeye state in the class of 2023. That’s included prospects across virtually every position group with the only exceptions at this point being running back and tight end (and that one is a bit debatable as they’ve got their eye on a talented WR who could project at tight end given his frame). But again, we’re just on the tail end of these players’ junior seasons so there are sure to be more in-state offers to come.

Here’s a quick look at the top remaining targets Iowa has already offered from within the state’s borders in 2023.

Kai Black, WR/TE
Ht: 6’4”
Wt: 205 lbs
Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa (Urbandale)
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 3

Asa Newsom, LB
Ht: 6’3”
Wt: 215 lbs
Hometown: Waverly, Iowa (Waverly-Shell Rock)
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 3

Alex Mota, DB
Ht: 6’1”
Wt: 175 lbs
Hometown: Marion, Iowa (Marion)
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 3

Jamison Patton, DB
Ht: 6’1”
Wt: 190 lbs
Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa (Roosevelt)
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 3

Legacy Targets

The uptick in talent within the state of Iowa is a major tailwind for recruiting in the program, but so to is the increase in legacy prospects around the country. We’re nearing that point where players who came to Iowa to play for Kirk Ferentz are having high school aged kids looking to make their own choices. But this year it’s a couple of late Hayden Fry players who have high level kids looking to make a college decision.

The first is Kyler Kasper, son of star Hawkeye receiver Kevin Kasper. Like his father, Kyler is a budding star at wide receiver. But unlike his old man, the younger Kasper has a big frame to go with the blazing speed. Kyler, a junior at Williams Field in Gilbert, Arizona, measures in at 6’5” and around 190 pounds but looks every bit as fast as Kevin.

Kasper is a 4-star prospect ranked inside the top75 nationally. He’s offers from a virtual who’s who of college football programs already, but has genuine interest in Iowa. He’s made five visits to Iowa City already, despite living in Arizona. And notably, was in town for the win over Penn State where he further built on his bond with Xavier Nwankpa. The two played 7-on-7 together in the past and remain in close contact.

Beyond Kasper, there’s another highly sought after prospect in the class of 2023 the Hawkeyes are in on. That’s 4-star DeSmet (St. Louis) tight end Mac Markway. Markway is the son of former Hawkeye tight end Matt Markway who played for Iowa from 1996-1999.

Mac is physically already in shape to play in the Big Ten. He measures in at 6’4” and 250 pounds as a junior in high school. The big frame has not slowed Markway, however, as he’s a fluid route runner with an ability to make all the plays Iowa asks of a tight end. He’s also a plus blocker, often demolishing defenders at the prep level.

Markway had been committed to Florida since July, but opened things up on Monday, officially decommitting from the Gators. That reopens the door for the Hawkeyes, who were involved in the process the first time around.

Other Top Targets

Beyond the in-state and legacy targets, Iowa is in on several other high level prospects from around the country. That spans all position groups, but perhaps none as much as the offensive line. Beyond the aforementioned Proctor, Iowa is in on Michigan center Dylan Senda, Indiana tackle Trevor Lauck and Missouri tackle Cayden Green, among others.

Senda is a high level center prospect with offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Northwestern and several others. He’s nearly Big Ten ready now at 6’5” and 275 pounds. Senda is slated to make his decision later on Monday with Michigan a likely landing spot. However, as we’ve seen with Markway, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Iowa remains involved until signing day a year from now.

As impressive as Senda is, Lauck may be even moreso. Like Senda, his body is almost plug and play at 6’6” and 290 pounds as a high school junior. He’s a mauler in the run game but athletic enough to very good in pass protection as well.

That’s a similar story for Missouri native Cayden Green. The Lee’s Summit North product has offers from Florida, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, Wisconsin and others. At 6’5” and 325 pounds, he’s ready to step in at tackle day one. And as with Lauck, he knows how to use that big body to demolish defenders in both phases.

Outside the offensive line, Iowa appears to be sitting pretty well with a couple of other high level talents from within their traditional recruiting footprint. Kaden Feagin is a 4-star running back from Arthur, Illinois who can do it all. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, he’s very big for a running back, but he has good one-cut ability and excellent burst to the next level where he can break away from defensive backs.

Another name to monitor from the Illinois side of the Mississippi is Rock Island 4-star OL/DL Charles Jagusah. As with the other names above, Jagusah is an absolute monster in high school at 6’6” and 285 pounds. He plays on both sides of the line, but given the volume of high level talent the Hawkeyes are in on, defensive tackle seems like a great spot for this big-bodied athlete.

We are, of course, still very early on in the class of 2023. While everyone listed above has visited Iowa at least once (and many of them several times), there will be more making the trip in the spring. As with prior years, look for Iowa to host a big visit day in June after getting prospects in to see spring practice when possible.

With the sheer volume of high level prospects Iowa has connections to and has already begun forming a relationship with, the class of 2023 is shaping up to be even better than the last two top-25 classes the staff has put together and perhaps the best since 2005.