Iowa landed a commitment from Paramus, NJ defensive end Terrence Harris Tuesday afternoon. The verbal commitment of the 6'3, 250-lb. Harris had been expected for weeks, for one big reason: He didn't have any offers from other BCS programs. Harris received scholarship offers from UMass and Western Michigan before Iowa floated one his direction in May. He later got a fourth offer from Florida Atlantic, but no other BCS conference program ever entered the picture. He has received a two-star rating from Rivals; Scout and 247 have not yet issued ratings. Those who have seen him have given him high marks for agility and toughness, two things Iowa desperately needs on the edge.
Iowa has always done a better-than-average job of developing two-star recruits into contributors. Ten 2012 starters -- Micah Hyde, Dominic Alvis, Joe Gaglione, Steve Bigach, Brett Van Sloten, Damon Bullock, Mark Weisman, Anthony Hitchens, Kevonte Martin-Manley, and Tanner Miller -- received two-star ratings from Rivals. Of course, that 2012 team went 4-8, and there is probably a pretty good reason why: Ten starters were two-star recruits.
And so there is Harris, who has been basically ignored by the entire BCS and nearly all the scouting services despite playing for one of New Jersey's most prestigious high school programs, on a defense that features a five-star Michigan recruit at cornerback. It's why Harris' commitment is being met with such a resounding collective sigh that the Hawk Central post on it has to start with a Tom Lemming pep talk:
Veteran college football recruiting analyst Tom Lemming has a message for Iowa fans:
"Don't worry about (scholarship) offers because when you go for athletes, a lot of times their offers come a little bit later, guys that need to fill out and grow."
Lemming has watched Harris on tape and he met him in person while traveling through New Jersey this past spring to evaluate the state's best high school players.
"I saw him back in March and he's very athletic," Lemming said of Harris. "He runs well. And he plays for one of the most talented schools in the country."
Iowa struck out on defensive ends last season, and landing Harris is certainly better than a second consecutive whiff. But Iowa also needs immediate help at defensive end precisely because of the 2013 miss and a string of two-star defensive ends in prior seasons. If Iowa had a bunch of ready-to-play defensive ends, or had already landed a cadre of higher-rated defensive ends and wanted to use an extra scholarship on a five-year project, it would make sense. Using a scholarship in July on a two-star player lacking other offers is a bit more confusing.
We're going to hope against hope that the staff sees something it can use that has been overlooked by everyone else. So welcome to Iowa City, Terrence Harris.
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