The verbal commitments keep rolling in from this weekend's Hawkeye Tailgater recruiting event -- although this one came from a recruit who wasn't actually attending the Tailgater event. Fresh off flipping Amani Jones from Illinois earlier in the evening, Iowa also snared a commitment from in-state DE Austin Schulte. Schulte becomes the 14th member of Iowa's 2016 recruiting class and the third defensive end to join the party.
I am so blessed and excited to announce that I have committed to play football at the university of Iowa pic.twitter.com/5gJPa0VG7p— Austin Schulte (@AustinSchulte) June 21, 2015
Schulte, a 6'4", 240 lb prospect out of Pella, is listed as a 3* recruit by Rivals, a 2* recruit by Scout, and has not yet been ranked by 247 or ESPN. He chose Iowa over offers from UNI and pretty much every school in the Dakotas. Schulte is the second Pella defender that Iowa has landed from last year's state champion squad, joining Garret Jansen, a 2015 recruit. Like Jansen, Iowa projects Schulte as a defensive lineman in college (although as an end rather than a tackle); unlike Jansen, Schulte has primarily been a linebacker so far at Pella. He put together a solid stat line last season: either 53.5 tackles with 15.5 TFL (4.5 sacks), per AllHawkeyes, or 71 tackles and 19 TFL, per Rivals.
Per AllHawkeyes, Schulte also noted that Iowa is looking to add four defensive end prospects in this year's class. Detroit teammates Chauncey Golston and Cedrick Lattimore verbaled to Iowa about a month ago, leaving Iowa with just two defensive end slots to fill in this class. Schulte's commitment drops that number to one. Iowa has been hitting defensive end hard over the last two classes; they added three likely defensive ends in the 2015 class, highlighted by in-state DE Anthony Nelson and St. Louis-area DE Michael Slater. Defensive end is definitely a position of need for Iowa, though -- Drew Ott and Nate Meier, this year's starting ends, are both seniors (as is Bud Spears, although he's pulled a vanishing act on the depth chart lately). Iowa enters 2015 with two redshirt freshmen, Parker Hesse and Matt Nelson, as the primary back-ups at the position. Nelson earned some positive buzz for his performance during spring practice and is an absolute physical freak (6'8", 270 lbs), but it's fair to say that things look pretty wide open at defensive end in 2016. The defensive end prospects in the 2015 and 2016 classes should have plenty of opportunities to earn playing time next fall.
That said, Schulte is probably a bit farther than the other incoming defensive ends from seeing the field at Iowa. He's listed at 240 and looking at this highlights, that might be a bit generous. Nate Meier is starting at Iowa with a listed weight of 252 lbs, so Iowa will play a smaller defensive end... but I also don't know that more Meier-sized defensive ends are what they're looking for, either. More importantly, though, Schulte just hasn't played the position that he's being brought to Iowa to play -- it's going to take him some time to get comfortable playing with a hand on the ground and to learn the nuances of defensive end. It's hard to get much of a read on Schulte's potential at defensive end from his highlights, either, since they all show him as a middle linebacker, not a defensive lineman. He shows off some decent speed and solid tackling ability, but for the most part there's not a lot to go off here.
Developmental players are a staple of Iowa's recruiting classes and Schulte definitely looks like one who's going to need to spend some time in the incubator (and the weight room) before seeing the field. That's fine -- as long as a) he stays at Iowa and continues to develop and b) he isn't pressed into service too early as a result of depth chart concerns. As an in-state player, his odds of sticking around are pretty good and with the sheer number of defensive end prospects Iowa is adding, it seems like there's a good chance that he'll have time to develop and improve and not get thrust into action too soon. That's the hope, at least. In the meantime, welcome aboard, Mr. Schulte.