The Iowa Hawkeyes are reeling after a disappointing 42-3 loss to the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship and now have more than three weeks dwell on those frustrations before facing off with the Kentucky Wildcats in the VRBO Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day. While the players have certainly turned their full attention to preparing for the matchup with Kentucky, the coaching staff has spent the days since the Big Ten Championship Game putting the finishing touches on the recruiting class of 2022. While there are still months to truly finalize things, college football’s early signing period begins a week from Wednesday giving college coaches just a few final days to lock up new commitments and cement those already verbally committed.
For Iowa, that means a flurry of in-home visits to the 11 prospects already committed in the class of 2022, as well as at least one elite prospect from within the state’s borders. It also means coordinating a quick round of on-campus visits with several prospects in the class of 2023 for Iowa’s bowl practices this weekend before a new dead period in recruiting begins. As we count down the days to the early signing period, here’s a look at where things stand for the Hawkeyes in the class of 2022.
Iowa is sitting on 11 verbal commitments in the class of 2022 just one week shy of the early signing period. If that seems small, it’s because it is. At this time a year ago, despite all the headwinds of COVID-19, Iowa had verbal commitments from 16 prospects. They went on to add another commitment from in-state linebacker Karson Sharar in the days before the early signing period to take the total early signee count to 17.
While Iowa is currently sitting at 11 prospects committed, they may similarly be adding another commit in the days before signing day with in-state safety Xavier Nwankpa set to announce on December 8th. The Hawkeyes are also involved with a number of other prospects, including a pair of defensive linemen who may also be late additions in the early period.
With those 11 current commits, Iowa has looked to address a few positions of need.
As they’ve done in every class in recent memory, Iowa has locked up one quarterback. Carson May is a Jones, Oklahoma native who absolutely torched defenses on the ground and through the air as a senior. He was recently upgraded to a 4-star on Rivals.
At running back, the Iowa staff looked to add some depth after some early departures in the position group. The Hawkeyes have verbals from two prospects. Jaziun Patterson is a consensus 3-star from Florida who was at one time a 4-star on Rivals and held offers from a slew of SEC and ACC schools. He’s joined by Ohio native Kaleb Johnson, who flipped his commitment from Cal and was recently upgraded to a 4-star on Rivals.
The Hawkeyes are also looking to build depth at tight end after some transfers. Iowa has verbals from two 3-star prospects. Cael Vanderbush is a big body from Indiana while Addison Ostrenga hales from Wisconsin.
At wide receiver, Iowa only has one commit currently. That comes from Illinois native Jacob Bostick who grades out as a high 3-star prospect with good size at 6’3”.
Up front, the Hawkeyes have two linemen in line to sign next week. Both project as offensive tackles with Jack Dotzler of Wisconsin coming in at 6’7” and Kale Krogh from here in Iowa at 6’6”. Both are consensus 3-star prospects.
On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa has a lone linebacker in this class in Jayden Montgomery. He’s the son of former Hawkeye and current Green Bay Packer assistant Jerry Montgomery. Despite missing almost all of this season due to a torn ACL, he’s a consensus 3-star prospect.
The defensive line rounds things out with a pair of commits. Caden Crawford is a defensive end prospect from Kansas that is rated a high 3-star. Aaron Graves rounds things out as the highest rated recruit in the class as of this writing. He’s a high 4-star prospect who could project at either defensive end or tackle.
The Iowa coaching staff has been talking about a small recruiting class this cycle since things really kicked off. But we’ve recently seen some departures from within the program potentially opening up scholarships depending on how many current seniors opt to take an extra year due to COVID. Net-net, that likely means this class grows from the 15-16 commits previously expected to somewhere north of 18.
The biggest remaining need is in the secondary where the Hawkeyes have no commitments currently. Iowa is expected to take three defensive backs in this cycle and could be looking at some major momentum beginning as soon as this afternoon. While there are no commitments a week from signing day, it would not be a shock to see Iowa ink three in the early period.
Beyond the secondary, the Iowa staff appears to be looking for another linebacker. Iowa offered a trio of players mid-season only to see them commit to Clemson, Wisconsin and Michigan. Now they may be checking a bit closer to home.
Defensive line is the other position where there seems to be some momentum. Iowa is expected to take commitments from three or four defensive linemen in this cycle, meaning we could see two more commitments in the coming week.
If you’re doing the back of the envelope math, that would put Iowa at 17 commitments - more than prior estimates but still with some room for late signing period candidates.
Top Remaining Targets
So who fills those openings? The biggest name on every Iowa fan’s mind is Xavier Nwankpa. The Southeast Polk superstar is set to announce his decision at 4pm CT on December 8th and late indications are it could be Iowa.
If that domino falls, look for former Washington cornerback commit TJ Hall to potentially be next. Hall, Nwankpa and running back Kaleb Johnson visited for the Penn State game and have reportedly become quite close.
From there, Michigan DB Olando Tucker looks like the annual Phil Parker special. While he’s just a 2-star prospect according to Rivals, the cat got out of the bag a bit early with this one and competition has started to heat up. If he picks Iowa before signing day, the Hawkeyes would be done in the secondary.
On the defensive line, Brian Allen is a name that’s been floating around Iowa for a while. The Illinois native moved out east and played for Jason Manson at St. Thomas More before Manson was named director of player development at Iowa. That meant Allen needed a waiver from the NCAA to be able to commit to the Hawkeyes. Before everything was lined up, Allen committed to Illinois back in August
Then he opened things back up in October and Iowa was thought to be the frontrunner again. But with the open recruitment, other schools took interest and Allen was thought to be an Oregon lean. Until head coach Mario Cristobal left for Miami. Might Allen finally end up a Hawkeye?
Another name to watch on the defensive line is Tennessee native Keyron Crawford. Crawford is a true late bloomer who has not been rated by the recruiting services, but his senior film jumps off the screen and has earned him an offer from Iowa and several mid-majors with the home state Tennessee Volunteers also showing interest.
At linebacker, after watching Aidan Vaughan commit to Wisconsin, Jimmy Rolder commit to Michigan and Wade Woodaz commit to Clemson, Iowa has come closer to home with interest now appearing focused on Landyn Van Kekerix. Van Kekerix is a Rock Valley native who’s not rated by the recruiting services, but has offers from South Dakota and South Dakota State based on some impressive senior film. He’s got good size and genes as the cousin of former Iowa target and Wisconsin standout Andrew Van Ginkel.
There will surely be new names popping up with each passing day and the news changes by the hour as December 15th draws near. Stay tunes for updates on commitments and a look ahead to 2023 in the coming days.