We’re nearly a full month past the 2021 college football season and are approaching two months since the early signing period back in December. Most fans have turned their attention to basketball and wrestling, especially with the Hawkeyes looking at a small recruiting class in the 2022 cycle.
Over the weekend, however, the Iowa Hawkeyes did what we’ve sort of come to expect. With no attention whatsoever, no prior indication of interest and no social media announcement, Iowa played host to an under the radar defensive back from the state of Michigan for an official visit.
On Sunday, Deshaun Lee left Iowa City committed to the Hawkeyes.
Iowa fans should recognize this playbook for Iowa and have seen it be tremendously successful. Phil Park identifies an under-recruited talent, often from his old stomping grounds in Michigan, that’s an athlete capable of doing a number of different things. Rather than advertise interest or an offer, Parker keeps things under wraps. Then the prospect makes a trip to Iowa City and once committed, everyone turns on the film and immediately sees what Phil has gotten himself. It’s the annual Phil Parker Special.
This year’s iteration is a 5’11” defensive back from Belleville, Michigan. If the town rings a bell, it’s because that’s the same high school Parker went to for the likes of Kaevon Merriweather and Brendan Deasfernandes.
At Belleville, Lee did it all. He lined up at running back and wide receiver, tallying 13 total offensive touchdowns (11 receiving and two rushing) and more than 800 yards. On defense, he was primarily a cornerback where he had a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
What jumps out immediately, aside from Lee’s abilities with the ball in his hands on offense, is his combination of speed and physicality despite weighing in at only 175 pounds. As a corner, Lee shows a good ability to come up in press coverage and get his hands on receivers to re-route them. That same physicality carries over into his willingness to come up in run support or tackle in the open field.
In short, he looks like exactly the type of guy we’ve seen Parker target year after year and find success in Iowa’s system, even if it takes a year or two for them to fully develop into the Big Ten body the Hawkeyes require.
Lee chose the Hawkeyes over prior offers from the likes of Kentucky, Pitt, Syracuse and several MAC programs. Why the Hawkeyes? Iowa’s approach and academics played a role, Lee told HawkeyeReport.
“The people here are very nice and it just felt like home when I got here. Everybody is real genuine.. The coaching staff is really genuine and they have been here for a long time and it felt like home. The graduation rate is really high also. It’s a good education and a great football program.”
It’s a great fit all around.
With the addition of Lee, Iowa is up to 18 total commitments in the class of 2022 after signing 17 in the early period. The additional commit moves the Hawkeyes up to 26th in the Rivals team rankings and 27th in 247 Sports. That’s good for 6th in the Big Ten and tops in the Big Ten West.
Iowa is not expected to take any additional prep commitments ahead of Wednesday’s signing day, though the Hawkeyes are still heavily pursuing a handful of transfer options, notably on the offensive and defensive lines and tight end.
Welcome aboard Deshaun Lee!