Over the last several years, the Iowa Hawkeyes have slowly built and refined their recruiting strategy to fully take advantage of the NCAA recruiting calendar. The last several years, that’s involved building relationships early, getting prospects on campus as juniors and filling a good chunk of the class before summer rolls around. That opens the door for a big recruiting weekend with the majority of already committed players to to make official visits alongside the top remaining targets.
This cycle, that big recruiting weekend came last weekend with the Hawkeyes hosting eleven of their twelve committed players, as well as nearly a dozen uncommitted prospects. One such prospect was Arizona defensive end Devan Kennedy, who attended camp in Iowa City earlier this month.
Despite making the camp, Kennedy did not earn an offer until he opted to return to Iowa City this weekend. Once back on campus, the Hawkeyes jumped on board and Kennedy wasted little time doing the same, committing to Iowa on Monday.
While that sounds pretty standard as far as Iowa recruiting stories go, Kennedy’s story is anything but standard. Despite being the son of former Penn State star and St. Louis Rams 1st round pick Jimmy Kennedy, Devan group up not playing football until just a year ago.
When he opted to finally follow in his father’s footsteps, Kennedy was a 6’3” 190 lb junior with loads of athleticism, a 7-foot wingspan and almost no experience. But what he lacked in experience, he made up for in work ethic and coachability. Devan put on 50 pounds of good weight over the last 10 months and went from beginner to big time power five prospect.
That’s where his recruiting story becomes even less standard as Hawkeye tales go. Despite camping in Iowa City and leaving without an offer, Kennedy was not completely under the radar. His junior film showed his upside. His frame is tremendous and his technique is coming along. But his combination of size, quickness and power is something you can’t coach and when he started attending camps, it didn’t take long for other schools to notice.
Before making this weekend’s return visit to Iowa City and earning the offer from the Hawkeyes, Kennedy earned offers from Oregon State, Illinois and most notably, his father’s alma mater: Penn State.
It’s not often the Hawkeye take on the Nittany Lions head-to-head. It’s incredibly rare they beat them for a legacy recruit. But the reputation of Phil Parker and the Iowa program’s development of projects sealed the deal for Kennedy, who says he found his home this weekend.
“Iowa is home,” Kennedy told HawkeyeReport.com. “They’re known for developing their players on and off the field. I trust the staff and love the community over in Iowa City.”
A product of Phoenix’s Brophy Prep, Kennedy is high school teammates with twins Bastian and Case Vanden Bosch, the sons of former Nebraska standout Kyle Vanden Bosch. The duo also hold Iowa offers as Levar Woods and the Hawkeyes try to make further inroads in the fertile Arizona recruiting grounds.
As mentioned, Kennedy chose the Hawkeyes over offers from Penn State, Illinois, Oregon State, Nevada, UTEP, Bowling Green, Idaho and others. The addition of Burt takes Iowa’s class of 2024 up to 13 total commitments. The class is ranked 30th nationally according to On3 (36th per Rivals and 32nd per 247 Sports). That’s good for 8th in the Big Ten (9th per Rivals and 247 Sports).
The question now is how many more of the ten or so uncommitted prospects the Hawkeyes hosted this weekend will follow Kennedy to Iowa City. Later in the afternoon, Iowa picked up a preferred walk-on commitment from safety prospect Graham Eben. Notably, Eben is high school teammates with top WR prospect Reece Vander Zee, who the Hawkeyes also hosted over the weekend.
Early indications are at least half a dozen of those visitors may be looking to commit. Potentially more. It could be a very busy week for the Hawkeyes on the recruiting trail. That would, of course, set things up for the staff to yet again be one step ahead in their preparation for the class of 2025.
Welcome aboard Devan Kennedy!