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CARING IS CREEPY: 2015 FOOTBALL RECRUITING PRIMER

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Creepmas is coming, Creepmas is coming! Time to get all caught up on Iowa's 2015 football recruiting.

"Brother, can you spare some recruiting acumen?"
"Brother, can you spare some recruiting acumen?"
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

#CREEPMAS, aka National Signing Day, is right around the corner -- next Wednesday, February 4, 2015 -- so we thought it was probably time to check in on Iowa's 2015 recruiting class and see how it's coming along and who might still be added to the fold in the next week.  (Reminder: we've written more about all of these players in past Caring is Creepy installments, which can you catch up on here. WARNING: There's a lot of Chris Hansen on that page.)

QUARTERBACK

Ryan Boyle (6-1, 215; West Des Moines, IA; Dowling) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Drew Cook (6-5, 218; Iowa City, IA; Regina) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | ** (Scout) | **** (ESPN)

Targets: NONE

Iowa's recruiting class is full when it comes to quarterbacks in 2015.  So full it didn't even have room for giants.  There have been bushels of rumors and speculations about Cook moving to another position (tight end seems likely, but maybe that's just memories of his father talking), but it sounds like he's going to start out at Iowa as a quarterback.

RUNNING BACK

Karan Higdon (5-10, 190; Sarasota, FL; Riverview) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: NONE

Higdon is the one and only running back in Iowa's class, but he looks like a pretty good one, with a solid mix of speed and power and a style that should fit Iowa's style on offense well.  Higdon might be the incoming freshman with the best opportunity to see the field in 2015 as well; Iowa is slated to return several running backs in 2015, but they all have concerns of some sort (size, durability, consistency, etc.), so Higdon could earn some snaps if he's able to hit the ground running upon arrival at Iowa.

WIDE RECEIVER

Adrian Falconer (6-1, 185; Leesburg, FL; Leesburg) ** (Rivals) | *** (247) | ** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Emmanuel Ogwo (6-0, 175; Mesquite, TX; Horn) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | ** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Jerminic Smith (6-1, 175; Garland, TX; South Garland) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: NONE

Iowa appears to be done recruiting offensive skill position talent this year.  Their three wide receiver commits are very much in the Greg Davis mold: on the small side, but fairly speedy.  Iowa's only returning receiver of consequence is Tevaun Smith, so there's room for new faces to emerge at wide receiver next year.  If one of these guys is able to pick up the playbook (and blocking schemes) quickly, he could see some action next fall.

TIGHT END

Nate Vejvoda (6-5, 215; New Lenox, IL; Providence Catholic) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: NONE

Vejvoda chose Iowa over a handful of MAC schools last summer and hasn't wavered in his commitment since.  Given his measurements, he'll be spending 2015 under a redshirt while he bulks up and learns Iowa's blocking schemes.

OFFENSIVE LINE

James Daniels (6-4, 275; Warren, OH; Harding) **** (Rivals) | **** (247) | **** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Landan Paulsen (6-6, 285; Moville, IA; Woodbury Central) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | **** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Levi Paulsen (6-6, 275; Moville, IA; Woodbury Central) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | **** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Brett Waechter (6-5, 265; Hartley, IA; H.M.S.) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | ** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: NONE

Daniels and Waechter graduated from high school early and have already enrolled at Iowa, which should give them an opportunity to go through spring practice as well as fall practice and give them a leg up on their fellow incoming freshmen.  Daniels is arguably the crown jewel of Iowa's 2015 class, a near-consensus 4* recruit with good offers (Ohio State, Michigan, Auburn, Alabama).  It's exceedingly rare for a true freshman to start at Iowa, but if Daniels picks things up quickly (and his early arrival to campus should help with that) and Austin Blythe is again needed to put out fires elsewhere on the offensive line, there's a chance that Daniels muscles his way into contention.  The Paulsen twins are another good addition to this recruiting class and potential pillars for the Iowa offensive line for years to come.

DEFENSIVE END

Anthony Nelson (6-6, 210; Waukee, IA; Waukee) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | ** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Brady Reiff (6-4, 215; Parkston, SD; Parkston) ** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Michael Slater (6-3, 265; Chesterfield, MO; Parkway Central) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: NONE

Nelson, of course, flipped from Iowa State to Iowa earlier this month.  Reiff, like Daniels and Waechter, graduated early from high school and has already enrolled at Iowa.  (Ferentz has never spoken too favorably about that practice in the past, so it will be interesting to see if three early enrollees this year is an aberration or the beginning of any sort of trend.)  Like Daniels (younger brother of current Hawkeye LeShun Daniels), Reiff also has family ties to the program (he's the younger brother of former Hawkeye star, Riley Reiff).  With listed weights of 210 and 215, neither Nelson nor Reiff are seeing the field until they spend quite a bit of time with Chris Doyle.  Speaking of weight, Rivals is the only site that lists Slater at 265; 247 and Scout list him around 240 and ESPN has him at 250.  With Drew Ott and Nate Meier slated to return in 2015, all of Iowa's defensive end recruits are likely looking at a year in the incubator.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Jacob Newborg (6-3, 271; Inwood, IA; West Lyon Jr Sr) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: Darrion Daniels (6-4, 290; Dallas, TX; Bishop Dunne Catholic), Miles Fox (6-1, 265; Suwanee, GA; Collins Hill), Eddy Wilson (6-4, 260; West Bloomfield, MI; West Bloomfield)

Newborg was the earliest verbal commitment of Iowa's 2015 class -- he pledged to Iowa way back on August 31, 2013.  That was when memories of 2012's meltdown were still the most recent images of Iowa football; if he could commit to Iowa after that, sticking through the disappointment of 2014 was probably a cakewalk.  More interesting than Newborg's commitment, though, is the fact that Iowa is still actively pursuing several defensive tackle prospects in the 2015 class.  Their odds of landing any of them don't seem particularly high -- Daniels is a near-consensus 4* recruit with offers from local programs like Baylor, Texas, Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State and he seems to be leaning toward picking one of those schools; Fox has already recommitted to Old Dominion; and Wilson is a current Purdue commit, so Iowa would need to flip him.  Iowa definitely needs to restock the DT position.

LINEBACKER

Justin Jinning (6-1, 210; The Colony, TX; The Colony) ** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: Tevez Hall (6-3, 205; Lithonia, GA; Martin Luther King, Jr.), Jake Whalen (6-2, 220; Wausau, WI; West), Angelo Garbutt (6-1, 206; Carrollton, TX; Hebron), Michael Ojemudia (6-2, 185; Farmington Hills, MI; Harrison)

As anyone who watched Iowa in 2014 can attest, Iowa needs help at the linebaker position in the worst way, so it's not a surprise that they're aggressively pursuing linebacker prospects to fill out this recruiting class.  The only alarming thing is that they weren't doing so earlier in the recruiting process.  Iowa's battling Nebraska for signatures from Hall and Garbutt; Hall has been a long-time Nebraska target while Garbutt committed to Oregon State when current Nebraska coach Mike Riley was with the Beavers (and Riley has continued his recruitment of Garbutt at Nebraska).  Whalen and Ojemudia seem like the more likely gets for Iowa -- Whalen has an offer from Wisconsin, but it's a grayshirt deal and they want him as a fullback, not a linebacker, while Ojemudia dumped his commitment to Eastern Michigan as soon as Iowa made him an official offer.  He's announcing his (new) decision tonight, but Iowa seems to be his favorite.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Jack Hockaday (6-0, 205; Maroa, IL; Maroa-Forsyth) *** (Rivals) | *** (247) | *** (Scout) | *** (ESPN)

Targets: NONE

Hockaday is listed as a safety by some services, a linebacker by others, and even a generic "athlete" by another.  He's a tweener, basically.  Iowa needs help at safety and linebacker, so I'd imagine the coaches of those units will be fighting for his services.  Iowa added several defensive backs in last year's recruiting class, which would probably explain why this year's class is so light on that position.

* * *

Unless left-field targets emerge, Iowa's 2015 recruiting looks just about done, outside of the action at DT and LB.  It's not a hugely exciting class by any stretch.  Scout likes it the most... and they have it as the 10th best class in the Big Ten, ahead of just Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Purdue.  247 ranks it 11th, ahead of just Purdue, Minnesota, and Michigan, while Rivals has it 12th, ahead of just Purdue and Michigan.  Michigan's low ranking is deceptive, too -- they're getting dinged for not having many commits at the moment (just 9), but five of their current commits are 4* prospects and they're a mortal lock to finish #CREEPYPALOOZA strong in the final week.  They'll probably have to wait until next year to seriously challenge Ohio State and Penn State for the best recruiting class in the league, but they should finish comfortably mid-table (and ahead of Iowa) when the fax machines start whirring next Wednesday.

Whether Iowa's ranking is 10th, 11th, or 12th (or even slightly better or slightly worse) is largely irrelevant, though: this recruiting class is solidly in the bottom half of the Big Ten.  That's a big problem if this program wants to contend for Big Ten championships (or more).