Shortly after adding one in-state interior offensive lineman to the 2016 class in Cedar Falls prep Spencer Williams, Iowa landed their verbal commitment from another in-state offensive lineman who projects to play inside -- Algona lineman Cole Banwart.
Banwart, listed at 6-4, 280, has primarily played on the defensive side of the ball for Algona, rotating between defensive end and defensive tackle for the Bulldogs. Like Williams, Banwart attended last weekend's recruiting camp in Iowa City, where he picked up an Iowa offer. It didn't take much for the lifelong Hawkeye fan to decide he wanted to spend his college years in black and gold.
Despite being a defender in high school, Banwart said the Iowa coaches are projecting him as an offensive lineman -- a guard, most likely. At 6-4, 275 as a high school junior, he's certainly got the size to fill that role. Without much blocking experience, though, he'll likely need some time in the incubator to hone his skills and get used to playing on the other side of the ball (protecting quarterbacks and opening holes for running backs rather than trying to drive them into the ground).
Banwart lacks a star rating from Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and 247 Sports. He's not so much "under the radar" as he is a few area codes away from the radar. His offer sheet isn't particularly loaded, either -- he chose Iowa over UNI and South Dakota State. The good news is that Banwart seems like a guy that will probably work his ass off when he gets to Iowa and Iowa's had success with unheralded guys like that in the past, particularly at offensive line. We've been critical of Iowa's increasing reliance on walk-ons and low-star recruits lately -- and not without reason. But if there's one position on the field where Iowa continues to do a very solid job of developing talent from humble beginnings, it's the offensive line. It will be a few years until we know if Banwart is another success story for Iowa or not, but it would be wildly premature to write him off now. Welcome aboard, Mr. Banwart.