Borderline four-star halfback recruit Karan Higdon, who had previously committed to play at Iowa next season, announced this morning that he will instead sign with Michigan. Higdon's decision marks the second consecutive season where Iowa lost a top-rated halfback in February, after last season's top halfback commitment, St. Louis prospect Markel Smith, was deemed ineligible.
Higdon, a 5'10, 190-lb. running back our of Sarasota, Florida, initially committed to USF last winter, just ten days after Iowa had offered him a scholarship. After striking out on a pair of Texas halfbacks, Iowa's staff turned its attention to Higdon, successfully getting him to decommit from South Florida in early October and securing his verbal commitment two weeks later. Other programs, such as Arkansas and Duke, previously offered, but Higdon appeared firm in his commitment.
Things changed quickly last week when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh offered Higdon a scholarship Friday. Suddenly, Higdon's coach, who apparently likes to hang out at MGoBlog, was scheduling a last-second trip to Ann Arbor and stopping just short of guaranteeing Higdon's letter of intent to anyone who would listen. According to recruitniks, Higdon initially declined Michigan's offer, then took the weekend flight to Detroit only to reaffirm his commitment to Iowa. As late as mid-afternoon Tuesday, it looked as if Higdon was in Iowa's corner.
And then last night, Higdon said he'd make his announcement Wednesday morning.
The writing was on the wall from there.
At the end of the day, it's awfully difficult for a staff 1,350 miles away from the player's high school to outwork a fanboy coach with an agenda embedded at the player's side. Make no mistake about it: That's the story here. Higdon had been completely committed to Iowa until five days ago, remained committed to Iowa despite everything his coach was telling these guys, then suddenly changed his mind in quite literally the final minutes with this guy in his ear.
With that said, Higdon's decommitment is a dagger to an already-lackluster class. The top four recruits in this class are all offensive linemen, only one of which received a four-star rating from any recruiting service or an offer from a top-tier program (James Daniels). Top-notch skill position talent, already so obviously lacking from the current roster, is simply not coming to Iowa. With the loss of Higdon and continued ineligibility of Smith, Iowa completely struck out on one of its most important priorities in this class. The Hawkeyes' coaching staff is going into a make-or-break season with no other option but to cobble together a running game from five guys who couldn't beat out Mark Weisman. It's a disaster. There's no other way of putting it.