The Iowa Hawkeyes have been uncharacteristically busy in the transfer portal this offseason. After nearly winning the West in 2022, the Hawkeyes looked in the mirror and saw glaring issues with the offense. While athletic director Gary Barta saw those same weaknesses and placed new minimum thresholds on Iowa’s offensive production to keep offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz employed beyond this season, the coaching staff opted to address them via instant impacts in the portal.
That started with the transfer of former Michigan QB Cade McNamara. The Hawkeyes added a pair of offensive linemen in front of their new QB1 to help keep him clean and healthy when they brought in Rusty Feth and Daijon Parker. They also gave him some new weapons to throw to in fellow Wolverine TE Erick All and Charleston Southern WR Seth Anderson.
But still, as the Hawkeyes went through spring practice, it was clear they needed more help on the outside. Despite the addition of Anderson as well as former Ohio State walk-on WR Austin Kutscher, the Hawkeyes went through spring practice with only Diante Vines and Nico Ragaini as healthy scholarship players available. That’s not good enough for any D1 program, let alone one with its eyes on a return trip to Indianapolis.
The Iowa staff was clearly aware of the lingering issue as well. They began following virtually every WR that entered the transfer portal up through the April 30th deadline for non-graduate transfers. But it was one of those last minute entries that stood out.
Ohio State true freshman Kaleb Brown entered the portal just ahead of that deadline. He was immediately followed on social media by the staff and several Hawkeyes, including McNamara. Two days later, he popped up in Iowa City.
On Thursday, Brown wasted little time in filling the gaping void at WR as he announced his commitment to the Hawkeyes via Instagram.
Much like McNamara immediately stepped into the QB1 role, Brown instantly jumps atop Iowa’s depth chart at WR. A former 4-star prospect in the class of 2022, Brown was ranked as a top-15 prospect at the position and a top-100 player overall nationally. He offers versatility and athleticism that will make him a day one starter and key component of the Iowa offense going forward.
As a prep, Brown played all over the place at St. Rita out of Chicago. Much like we saw with Tyrone Tracy or Arland Bruce, Brown started as a running back where he was dynamic as a prep. In a truncated spring junior season in 2021, Brown amassed 790 all-purpose yards in just six games. Brown missed much of his senior season due to injury, but returned for the Illinois state playoffs and hauled in 8 catches for 128 yards in the 7A state title game.
He spent time in the slot, in motion as a jet motion player taking handoffs, out of the backfield, fielding punts and kicks and even throwing a few passes. Put simply, Brown is dynamic and versatile. He ran a 10.84 100m as a high school freshman (in line with Cooper DeJean as a senior) and was timed at 4.4 in the 40 as a senior, making him as versatile as guys like Tracy or Bruce, but meaningfully faster.
Upon arriving in Columbus, Brown was stock behind superstars such as 1st round draft pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba, future 1st round pick Marvin Harrison Jr. and 1,000-yard receiver Emeka Egbuka. But he did see the field as a true freshman and caught one pass for 5 yards - a first down in the 4th quarter of a 54-10 blowout of... the Iowa Hawkeyes.
In Iowa City, look for the 5’10”, 197 pound Brown to step into a primary role on the outside given the Hawkeyes are likely to keep Nico Ragaini in his familiar spot in the slot. While he doesn’t have elite size or catch radius, he does possess the kind of elite speed Iowa has sorely lacked on the outside to take the top off of defenses. More importantly, he’s capable of sliding inside, coming over the middle or going in motion to take handoffs. Put simply, Kaleb Brown is just what the doctor ordered for the Iowa offense if the Hawkeyes are looking to make improvements.
Given he was a true freshman in 2022, Brown will have four years to play three in Iowa City.
Welcome aboard Kaleb Brown!