Sure, caring is creepy. That's why we generally leave it to the Rivals/Scout guys. But once their signature goes on the dotted line of an Iowa letter of intent, caring ceases to be creepy and becomes essential. So, without further ado, your objects of affection and/or scorn (sometimes both at the same time) for the next four or five years.
First up: your offensive skill position recruits! (And the kickers. Yes, plural. #GoIowaAwesome)
Detroit, MI (Country Day)
4★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 4★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports
You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Tyler Wiegers
It's funny -- in years past if Iowa signed a 4-star QB prospect, fans would have been over the moon about it. It would have dominated the discussions about recruiting. Fans would have been calling for him to take over the starting job and proclaiming that, at least, Iowa had a quarterback who was going to lead Iowa back to Big Ten championship glory. Maybe I'm disconnected, but I don't get that sense about Wiegers. Maybe it's because he was a late addition to the class -- he didn't hop aboard until December 20th. Maybe it's because Iowa got burned on its last recruitnik-approved quarterback prospect (/remembers JC6 turf-punting balls, downs shot). Maybe it's because the honeymoon phase hasn't yet worn off for Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard. Maybe it's because he feels like Rutgers' sloppy seconds (which is dumb, but hey it's Rutgers).
And yet Wiegers is one of the top players in this Iowa class, regardless of the recruiting service. He's either a fairly high 3* prospect or a 4* prospect and he appears to tick all the boxes that the Iowa coaches have wanted out of quarterback prospects for the last decade: big pocket passer, strong arm, some elusiveness in the pocket, can throw out of play action or roll out situations, and can also sit in the pocket and hoist the ball downfield. If Nic Shimonek (last year's QB recruit) was a Greg Davis pick through and through, then Wiegers feels like a Kirk Ferentz pick through and through.
There's not much reason to expect that Wiegers will see early playing time at Iowa, not with Rudock and Beathard already entrenched and experienced (and with Sokol and Shimonek here -- for now -- and practice-experienced, at least). But Wiegers looks like he has the physical tools to succeed at Iowa -- it's just a matter of when that opportunity might come and who he has to out-perform to seize the starting role.
2014 Outlook: Redshirt, redshirt, redshirt.
FUN FACT: The hardest part about Wiegers' decision to de-commit from Rutgers was turning down the opportunity to fly in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport for the next 4-5 years.
St. Louis, MO (St. John Vianney)
3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports
You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Markel Smith
Everyone loves to see running backs truck fools. It's just a law of football fandom. As Iowa fans, we've been blessed in recent years with the likes of Shonn Greene, Marcus Coker, and Mark Weisman -- three big hombres who knew how to lower a shoulder or extend a stiffarm and send a hapless defensive back bouncing into the turf. LeShun Daniels seems destined to be the next guy to do that for Iowa, but it looks like he might have some competition for that role from Mr. Smith. Have you seen this picture? Dude's not even in pads and he still looks like safeties would bounce right off him.
Smith was one of the bigger "gets" for Iowa in this class -- he chose Iowa over reported offers from Illinois, Ole Miss, and Missouri (EAT IT, SEC) as well as "interest" from several other big-time programs -- and he could be one of the bigger difference-makers in this class. (That is, assuming everything is copacetic with his grades and test scores and whatnot; there were rumblings that issues with those numbers were delaying his commitment, although that seems to be cleared up now.) Iowa appears blessed with an uncommon amount of depth at running back at the moment -- Weisman, Canzeri, Bullock, and Daniels all return in 2014, as well as guys who haven't seen much (or any) playing time yet like Barkley Hill, Mike Melloy, Jonathan Parker, and Akrum Wadley -- but we all know how quickly that can change. Some of the guys might get injured or transfer. Some of them might change positions (Parker and Wadley have been earmarked as potential slot receivers ever since they arrived on campus). And someone might blow up during preseason training camp; a year ago that was Daniels. Maybe Smith does the same this year and makes it hard for the coaches to redshirt him.
2014 Outlook: Redshirting still seems like the most likely option, but you never know.
FUN FACT: Smith (and Iowa officials) would really prefer if it you kept his Kryptonian heritage on the DL; the NCAA bylaws are a little murkey about players of extraterrestrial origin participating in college football.
Cincinnati, OH (St. Xavier)
3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports
You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, C.J. Hilliard
Hilliard spurned #MACtion (as well as Boston College and Indiana) for an Iowa offer. Hilliard seems like a tweener back compared to some of Iowa's recent running backs -- not small-ish and quick like Jordan Canzeri and certainly not a big bruiser like Mark Weisman or LeShun Daniels. Hilliard isn't a burner, isn't particular big (or particularly small), but he looks like a grinder and a guy who manages to get positive yards more often than not. Iowa's had success with guys like that (Adam compared him to Sedrick Shaw in the article linked above, but I could see some A-Rob in him, too). He's probably not a guy that can be relied upon to provide immediate production, but the good news is that Iowa doesn't need him to do that; at the moment, Iowa projects to have a surplus of options in the backfield (/KNOCK ON EVERY AVAILABLE PIECE OF WOOD), so they can afford to take their time developing Hilliard.
...and now that I say that we can probably expect him to be starting by Halloween.
2014 Outlook: Redshirt, unless AIRBHG returns with a vengeance in 2014.
FUN FACT: Hilliard was offered in part because, like Sith lords, Iowa must now have two players named "C.J." on the roster at all times.
Wide Receiver (?)
La Porte City, IA (Union)
4★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 4★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports
You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Jay Scheel
Jay Scheel actually committed to Iowa over a year ago -- back on January 20, 2013. Scheel was Iowa's second commitment for 2014, but unlike the other early commit (Ross Pierschbacher), Scheel stayed firm to his Hawkeye commitment all year long. (Of course, Scheel also didn't have the likes of Alabama knocking on his door, either.) meanwhile, a year after bringing in around a half-dozen wide receiver prospects, Iowa added just one this year -- and even that's not guaranteed. We're expecting Scheel to become a wide receiver at Iowa, but that's not a guarantee yet. He played quarterback in high school and while Iowa has a lot of bodies at that position already and Scheel doesn't fit the typical model of Iowa QB these days (tall, strong-armed pocket passer), his athleticism (and aptitude for running the zone-read) makes him an intriguing option there. At the very least, maybe he gives Iowa an outlet on trick pla--HAHAHAHA. Okay, I'll stop now.
There's probably a chance Scheel winds up on defense; with his measurables (6-1, 170, fake 40 time of 4.5 seconds) and ball skills it's not hard to imagine him as a playmaker at defensive back. (See: Hyde, Micah.) Of course, Iowa's still searching around for playmakers at wide receiver, too, and if Scheel shows some aptitude at running routes and consistently catching the ball, it's hard to see the coaches on that side of the ball letting him get away. Either way, Scheel looks like one of the more interesting (and dynamic) prospects in this class, so it will be fun to see what becomes of him.
2014 Outlook: A redshirt seems like a good bet while Iowa figures out what to do with him, but there's probably a better-than-decent chance of him breaking out on special teams or emerging in camp as a guy in the rotation at wide receiver.
FUN FACT: Despite what you might expect, Jay prefers to shop at Dick's Sporting Goods for all his apparel and equipment needs.
Lucas, TX (Lovejoy)
2★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports
You Might Rememteber Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Mick Ellis
With the departure of Mike Meyer after this season, Iowa's in the hunt for a new placekicker for the first time in several years. Meyer missed a few kicks over the years (#CollegeKickers, y'all), but was generally a very solid kicker for Iowa. He made 61/80 field goals (76%) and 141/143 extra points (99%), including his last 120 in a row. Walk-on Marshall Koehn is one option to replace Meyer as Iowa's primary placekicker, but Ellis gives Iowa another option and the opportunity for a genuine kicking derby this spring and summer. Ellis was an all-state kicker as a senior in high school and tore up several summer kicking camps, so he appears to have the bona fides to contend for the starting gig from day one. He also seems to have a powerful leg: he made kicks from 49, 52, and 53 yards last year. If there was one knock on Meyer, it was that he wasn't quite as good on those really long (45+ yards) field goal attempts; maybe Ellis will give Iowa more of a weapon to turn to in those situations.
2014 Outlook: Immediately in the mix for playing time.
FUN FACT: Mick Ellis also plays bass for his high school band, The Falling Helens.
Torrance, CA (El Camino C.C.)
2★ Rivals, 2★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports
You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Dillon Kidd
Truly, these are great and glorious days for proponents of #PUNTINGISWINNING. Ray Guy finally cracked the Pro Football Hall of Fame's decades-long informal ban on punters being enshrined in its hallowed halls and now Iowa is adding a second punter on scholarship. Because when you're constrained to 85 scholarships, it's totally a good use of those resources to spend two of them on punters.
Kidd spent two years as a backup punter at Florida State and one year at El Camino Community College in Torrance, CA, where he spent a lot of time
listening to The Black Keys kicking balls inside the opponent's 20-yard line (18, to be precise). Iowa, of course, already has a junior punter on the roster, Conor Kornbrath. He averaged 40.0 yards per boot, downed 27 punts inside the 20-yard line, and had 11 punts of 50+ yards. Again, this is a very curious commitment; maybe Ferentz will spill a few more beans about it during his presser this afternoon.
2014 Outlook: There has to be a very good possibility that he actually plays; signing a JUCO punter otherwise makes no sense. Whether he plays because Kornbrath is leaving (and there's no evidence to suggest that yet, I'm just speculating) or because Ferentz & Co. just want better production out of the punter position, he has to be in the mix this spring to take over the starting punter role.
FUN FACT: His nickname is not, in fact, Dilly the Kid. Or Dilly Bar. But he does like to dress in Western-wear and eat ice cream.