Iowa football picked up the sixth commitment of its 2014 class Friday with the announcement of Dallas-based safety Jyaz Jones. He is the younger brother of 2013 wide receiver commit Anjeus Jones, and those two apples did not fall far from the same tree: Like Anjeus, Jyaz briefly committed to Colorado State but, just a few weeks later and after a visit to Iowa City, changed his mind.
Just what Iowa is getting in Jyaz, beyond a guy whose name is an anagram for Jay-Z Jones, is up for speculation. For one, he is the first commit in years to not come with a ready-made highlight video on Youtube. I spent 15 minutes looking and came up empty, so here's Jay-Z instead. Watch the throne.
For another, there is absolutely no scouting consensus. Jones is a four-star safety at 24/7 Sports, but receives only two-star grades from Rivals and Scout (ESPN is just starting to realize that it needs to issue grades on more than 12 players to continue receiving consideration for its recruiting coverage). The grade disparity is likely due to another big concern with Jones: He tore his ACL this spring and likely will not play as a senior. When some teams hesitated following the injury and Colorado State stayed in play, Jones rewarded them with his verbal. Now that the love is back from some of the more significant players, that commitment has shifted. Iowa has stayed with players who have had high school ACL tears before, with mixed results (De'Andre Johnson comes to mind, and then goes away quickly). He did have offers from Nebraska and Baylor, so some BCS-level programs saw enough there to get interested. And, of course, there's the fact that a commitment was broken in the first place; the next one is always easier, Jones has been publicly trolling for more offers for months, and Oklahoma and Miami had watched the kid work out before the ACL injury.
Regardless of how this turns out, it is unquestionably a win for LeVar Woods, who has quickly made Iowa's recent reentry into the Texas talent pool profitable. Whether Woods' eye for talent and Iowa's infrastructure for helping out-of-state football players have both improved over Rick Kaczenski's fumbled Florida efforts of yesteryear won't be known for another few years, but initial returns are promising. With six commits in place in June, and another two to four usually coming out of summer camps, the Hawkeyes are again off to a solid early start.
It is also a welcome shift in philosophy at safety for Iowa, which went years without signing a highly-regarded player designated for safety before Nico Law in 2011. Safety had been the catch-all for walk-ons, late commits, and ineffective halfbacks, and it had worked until it so clearly did not. That Iowa's staff feels it needs to pursue top talent at all positions is a new thing, and a promising one at that.