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Iowa Football Recruiting: Hawkeyes Land Pair of Running Backs in 2024 Class

Iowa improved on their top-20 class over the weekend.

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Ladell Betts has been calling his shots when it comes to RB recruiting for the Hawkeyes.
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’ve entered a new world in terms of recruiting at the high major level in college athletics. With the advent of NIL money, collectives and perhaps most importantly, immediate eligibility for transfers, attention has shifted away from high school recruiting toward the portal. Some coaches, be it in football or basketball, have opted to focus their efforts on the portal rather than preps with the most extreme examples even giving up on targeting high school prospects.

While the Iowa Hawkeyes have indeed increased their focus on the portal, they are not in that most extreme group and have perhaps been a beneficiary of some programs turning their attention away from the high school ranks. Over the weekend, Iowa landed a pair of commitments in the class of 2024, both at the running back position.

On Saturday, the Hawkeyes picked up their third commitment from outside the state’s borders as Indiana running back Xavier Williams announced his decision to commit to Iowa.

Williams is an absolute hammer of a back at 6’ and 225 pounds as a high school junior. He ran for a blistering 1,475 at 15 touchdowns during his junior campaign for Lake Central High in St. John, Indiana (just on the Indiana side of the border from Chicago).

On film, there’s a ton to like from Williams. Despite the big frame, he runs with a low center of gravity and great balance. He uses that balance along with the kind of power you’d expect from a back his size to bounce off or simply run over would-be tacklers. Starting at around the 1:10 mark of his highlight film (see below) you can see his excellent stiff arm, as well as his ability to lower a shoulder and bowl over defenders in open space.

The one knock on Williams is his lack of elite top-end speed. On film, he is run down be defensive backs at times. However, Williams’ combination of power and excellent vision seems to make up for the breakaway speed and allows him to still be a home run hitter. He’s patient behind the line and adept at picking his spots to use short area burst to get into open space and then use his power to get through the second level and build explosive plays without your traditional open field speed.

Talking with On3 Sports, Williams said he feels like that will be a great fit in Iowa City.

“I think my game and their run scheme go hand in hand. I feel like I’ll thrive in their system.”

Williams chose the Hawkeyes over a number of MAC offers, including Northern Illinois, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Ball State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Miami-OH, as well as Old Dominion. He’s a 3-star prospect according to Rivals, 247 Sports and On3.

Xavier Williams, RB
Ht: 6’0”
Wt: 225 lbs
Hometown: Saint John, IN (Lake Central)
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 3

The commitment of Xavier Williams may have spurred a sense of urgency from fellow running back Brevin Doll. The Iowa native grew up a Hawkeye fan, but had not made a decision entering the weekend.

With another spot spoken for on Saturday, the Adel native wasted little time in pulling the trigger, announcing his commitment to Iowa on Sunday.

If Williams brings the thunder, Doll is the complementary lightning. Listed at the same 6’ tall, but a more slight 185 pounds as a high school junior, Doll lacks the same power and tackle-breaking ability of Williams, but more than makes up for it with track speed.

Doll is the two-time defending state champion in the class 3A 200m with a personal record under 22 seconds. For those unfamiliar with speed, that’s faster than current Hawkeye Cooper DeJean, who posted a 22.12 official time at the state meet as a senior. The same year, Doll posted a 22.19 as a sophomore.

That’s not where the similarities between the growing legend of Cooper DeJean and Iowa’s latest commitment end, however. Like DeJean, Doll was counted on to do a little bit of everything by his ADM team. As a junior, he rushed for the same 1,475 yards as the aforementioned Williams, but converted those into an absurd 27 rushing touchdowns. That’s impressive in its own right, but Doll added another 640 receiving yards and 6 more receiving TDs.

[Cheesy infomercial voice.]

But wait! There’s more!

Doll also racked up 566 return yards as both the kick and punt returner for ADM. For good measure, he ripped off a return for a touchdown in both roles. All told then, Doll finished his junior campaign with 2,681 all-purpose yards and 35 total touchdowns.

On film, Doll shows some of those abilities to make people miss and bounce off defenders seen from Williams, but where he truly excels is when he can get vertical and turn on the jets in the open field. He frequently outruns defenders despite their angles and was often used on jet motion as a prep, getting to the edge and turning the corner.

He has very good hands (receiving highlights start at 4:55 on the highlight video below) and seems like a likely candidate to end up in the role the Hawkeyes have been trying to carve out for players like Tyrone Tracy and Arland Bruce before him - solidly built high school running backs with balance and tackle-breaking abilities but more useful in the open field. Doll has better top end speed than either of the now departed former Hawkeyes, but profiles similarly at the high school level.

Speaking with On3, Doll said the Hawkeyes do intend to take advantage of those traits in the passing game. Exactly how that roll will evolve remains to be seen, but it’s another skillset to give the Iowa offense options.

“They plan to utilize my versatility and get me involved in the pass game.”

As with Williams, Doll is a 3-star prospect according to 247 Sports, Rivals and On3. However, that high level speed brought Doll a bit more fanfare on the recruiting trail as he chose the Hawkeyes over offers from Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Princeton, Army, Western Michigan, UNI and South Dakota.

Brevin Doll, RB
Ht: 6’0”
Wt: 185 lbs
Hometown: Adel, IA (ADM)
Stars: 247 Sports - 3; Rivals - 3

The additions of Doll and Williams take Iowa’s class of 2024 up to nine total commitments. they also push the Hawkeyes up to 17th nationally according to 247 Sports (18th per Rivals ad 21st per On3). That’s good for 5th in the Big Ten (4th per Rivals).

Doll makes it six commits from the state of Iowa. Notably, the Hawkeyes have locked down six of the top seven prospects within the state’s borders for the class of 2024 per 247 Sports. The only prospect missing is 4-star OL Grant Brix who remains uncommitted. That’s the case for all four of the other top-10 prospects in Iowa not currently committed to the Hawkeyes in the class.

Iowa will look to continue the momentum as they round out spring practice this weekend and push into big recruiting weekends later this spring and summer.

Welcome aboard Xavier Williams and Brevin Doll!