The Iowa Hawkeyes received a welcome piece of good news Tuesday: Markel Smith, the top running back recruit still being pursued by the program for 2014, committed to Kirk Ferentz and his staff. Smith, a 5'11, 210-lb. halfback out of St. John Vianney High in St. Louis, received four-star ratings from 247 Sports and Scout, and three-star ratings from Rivals and ESPN. He chose the Hawkeyes over offers from Missouri, Ole Miss, Illinois, and Tulsa. He committed to Missouri last November, but decommitted in March with Iowa in continued pursuit.
Smith is a three-year starter for Vianney, running for 1,498 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore. His highlight video from that year shows how: He's built like a short tree.
(video courtesy of Hudl)
He exceeded 2,500 yards as a junior, finding the end zone 30 times in the process. Vianney plays a district semifinal Wednesday, but through nine games has 2,112 yards and 31 touchdowns.
He set a Missouri high school single-game rushing record earlier this year when he racked up 541 yards in one game. He squats 500 pounds. Also, his high school mascot is the Golden Griffin, which is awesome.
All things here are good. Iowa got another recruit from St. Louis, where they have been cleaning up this year and where their top offensive line target, Brian Wallace from Christian Brothers College High, resides. This is good. He is a plug-and-play halfback in the bruising mold that Iowa is now clearly -- almost exclusively -- pursuing. This is good. Iowa beat out two SEC schools, including one of the nation's hottest recruiting staffs (Ole Miss) and the SEC East leader that the player followed his entire life (Mizzou), for a skill position player. This is good.
And Iowa has finally shown it's not playing by its own code of chivalry in recruiting, the old Kirk Ferentz gentlemen's agreement that everyone else abandoned years ago that says you can't recruit someone else's verbal commitment. Iowa put a bug in Smith's ear after he had committed to Mizzou, got him to decommit, then slowly moved him over to our side. This isn't merely good. This is great. This is a sign that we've finally gotten into the game in earnest, that we're not settling for moral victories on the recruting trail anymore. As good as it is to get a highly-rated running back, it's even better to know we're getting in position to compete for more.