We’re exactly one week away from college football’s early signing period and coaching staffs across the country are rushing to fill out their recruiting classes. For the Iowa Hawkeyes, that has meant a focus on the defensive secondary. Iowa is expected to ink three prospects in the back end of Phil Parker’s defense this cycle, but as of Wednesday morning they had no commits in the class.
That all changed Wednesday afternoon when Parker and the Hawkeyes got some great news and the recruiting class got a major boost as Pleasant Hill native Xavier Nwankpa announced his decision to commit to the Hawkeyes.
The addition of Nwankpa is a big time pickup for Iowa as he becomes the first 5-star to commit to the Hawkeyes since defensive end AJ Epenesa pledged to Iowa in 2017. Nwankpa, rated #20 in the nation by Rivals and #11 nationally by 247 Sports is the highest rated commitment for the Hawkeyes since Kyle “Bonecrusher” Williams committed in the class of 2004.
What makes the Southeast Polk product so special? While listed at 6’2” and 185 pounds, Nwankpa appears to be closer to 6’3” and 200 lbs. He’s got a tremendous frame for a safety, but gives up absolutely no speed or athleticism with his size.
As a senior, Nwankpa logged 26 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles as a safety. He demonstrates good instincts, but more importantly he’s got elite closing speed and quickness that allows him to play in coverage or run support.
With the ball in his hands, you’d never know Nwankpa wasn’t a receiver prospect. He finished his senior season with 391 yards and 5 TDs on 33 catches (11.8 yards per reception) while adding 307 yards and a touchdown in the return game as well as a blocked field goal .
Those talents earned Nwankpa a 5-star rating by Rivals and 247 Sports, as well as offers from a literal who’s who of college football programs. While the final decision came down to Iowa, Ohio State and Notre, Nwankpa collected offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, USC, Wisconsin and several others.
The addition of Nwankpa to Iowa’s class of 2022 takes the total commitment count to 12 just one week ahead of the early signing period. Nwankpa becomes Iowa’s third commit from within the state’s borders joining 4-star defensive end Aaron Graves and 3-star offensive lineman Kale Krogh.
The Hawkeyes are expected to push the class size a bit larger than prior estimates. With recent departures, Iowa will likely ink closer to 18 total prospects in the class when it’s all said and done, but may be below that level during the early signing period which begins on Wednesday, December 15th.
Nwankpa intends to enroll at Iowa at the semester in January, after participating in the All-America Bowl.
Welcome to the Iowa Hawkeyes Xavier Nwankpa!