Historically, June has been a busy month for the Iowa football staff on the recruiting trail. Excluding the covid-impacted cycles, it’s been perhaps the busiest time in since the advent of the early signing period. It’s become the time when the Hawkeyes play host to their top prospects, often with a single big recruiting weekend to host as many as 20 targets at once.
This year will be no different, but that big recruiting weekend hasn’t yet hit. Instead, that’s reserved for the end of the month while the coaches have taken the weeks leading up to that big weekend to host a handful of other top priority targets.
This past weekend, that included 4-star Florida running back Kendrick Raphael. The Naples product came away impressed. So much so that Raphael announced his commitment to the Hawkeyes on Monday evening.
Raphael is a big time get for the Hawkeyes and new RB coach Ladell Betts. The Naples, Florida native brings a combination of balance, vision and burst reminiscent of the recently departed Tyler Goodson. There doesn’t appear to be quite as much wiggle from Raphael, but he’s perhaps a bit more powerful and shows good breakaway speed in the open field, often outrunning defensive backs once he hits the second level. That’s notable for a player competing in Florida’s class 6A.
In Raphael’s junior season, the Golden Eagles tan the table in the regular season, winning their conference before falling in the Regional Semifinal to Miami Northwestern. In a run-first and run often offense, the 5’10” 190 pound Raphael led Naples in rushing with 1,374 yards on the ground on 126 total carries, second only to the QB with 128 carries. That was good for a team-leading 10.9 yards per carry. Raphael’s 18 rushing touchdowns were also second only to QB Stanley Bryant.
Speaking with Hawkeye Report, Raphael said it was the ability to use his burst to hit a hole and get vertical that really impressed Betts and the Iowa staff.
“He said with my running style, the way I can make one cut and get vertical fits in really well with what they do.”
The combination of size, speed and power caught the attention of a lot of recruiters and recruiting services alike. Raphael is rated a 4-star prospect at both Rivals and 247 Sports and he’d offers from 23 schools in total. That included the likes of NC State, BYU, Purdue, Indiana, Boston College, Duke, Iowa State, Louisville, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, and several others.
As for why Iowa, Raphael said it came down to the fit. Again speaking with Hawkeye Report, he said he was “looking for a place where I have good relationships and it’s a good environment that’s similar to home honestly. If I’m moving away for college, I want to go to a place that feels like home.”
Welcome home, indeed, Kendrick Raphael.
The addition takes Iowa to 11 total commitments in the class of 2023. The Hawkeyes are set to host 20+ prospects and current commits in the coming weeks as they hope to add to a class that’s already ranked 16th nationally by both Rivals and 247 Sports.