While most of the news surrounding the Iowa football program of late has been fairly negative, there was at least one bright spot on Tuesday night: Iowa landed a verbal commitment from RB Karan Higdon. Higdon is listed at 5-10, 190 lbs and sports a fake 40 time of 4.4 -- hooray speed! Among the recruiting services, Scout, Rivals, and ESPN list him as a 3*, while 247 is more bullish and lists him as a 4*.
Higdon's path to Iowa was anything but straightforward. He initially committed to South Florida (back on January 26, 2014), but continued to look at his options and encouraged other schools (including Iowa) to continue pursuing him. He formally de-committed from South Florida earlier this month and proclaimed Iowa as his favorite, before finally giving his verbal commitment to Iowa Tuesday night.
In addition to South Florida, Higdon listed several other offers, including Western Kentucky, UCF, and Florida Atlantic, as well as a host of SEC schools (Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee). As offer sheets go, that certainly beats a host of MAC schools. Iowa doesn't win a lot of head-to-head recruiting battles with SEC schools, so landing Higdon looks like a very solid get.
Higdon's commitment also appears to be another sign of Iowa's renewed emphasis on recruiting Florida. He joins 2* WR Adrian Falconer as the second Florida commit in Iowa's 2015 class. Two recruits doesn't make a trend, but it certainly seems that Iowa has picked up their recruiting efforts in the Sunshine State after publicly suggesting they were stop recruiting Florida a few years ago. Higdon and Falconer fit the profile of recruits that have succeeded at Iowa in the past (Damian Sims, C.J. Jones) and looking for skill position talent in places like Florida and Texas is a solid plan, given the speed and athleticism available in abundance there.
Moreover, Higdon seems like a running back that will fit well in Iowa's offense. ESPN's scouting report (Insider; $) is full of comments like "Runs with a decisive style and wastes little time getting North and hitting the downhill seam... Hits the hole with authority and runs hard North-South... Shows good vision; sees the hole and hits it." That sounds like a pretty nice fit for Iowa's zone blocking scheme. The report also notes that Higdon doesn't possess high-end or breakaway speed (further evidence that the listed 4.4 40 time is worthy of skepticism), but Iowa also has a pretty decent track record with running backs that aren't burners.
(link to Higdon's Hudl highlights)
Oh, and he's certainly productive:
Given that Iowa is the second school that Higdon has committed to during the recruiting process, we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the possibility that his recruitment isn't over just yet. There's still a long way to go 'til National Signing Day in February after all. But there's also no particular reason to be especially cynical about Higdon's commitment or presume that he has a wandering eye that will take him elsewhere, either. His comments to 247 Sports and Voice of the Hawkeyes don't suggest a rash decision that he might decide to change a few months from now:
"I felt pretty strongly about Iowa for a while now," Higdon told VOTH shortly after his commitment. "Thinking about it, weighing out my options for other schools. Looking at all these different aspects--every little detail about every different school--being unbiased and playing the devil's advocate. I've just been praying about it a lot, and today I woke up and I just felt it was it."
For now, let's just be happy that a promising running back recruit has committed to Iowa. That's good news. Welcome aboard, Mr. Higdon.