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2015 IOWA FOOTBALL RECRUITING: OFFENSIVE LINE, TIGHT END

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Sure, caring is creepy. That's why we generally leave it to the Rivals/Scout/247 guys. But once their signature goes on the dotted line of an Iowa letter of intent, caring ceases to be creepy and becomes essential. So, without further ado, your objects of affection and/or scorn (sometimes both at the same time) for the next four or five years.

JAMES DANIELS

Center, 6'4", 304
Warren, OH (Harding)

4★ Rivals, 4★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, James Daniels | James Daniels Recruiting Capsule

We can't say it enough: there's no more development-intensive position in college football than offensive lineman, especially with a coach like Kirk Ferentz and his ability to mold All-Big Ten players out of recruiting afterthoughts and walk-ons.

Okay, that all out of the way? Great. Because here's the deal: we're very, very excited about Daniels joining the Iowa program, and you should be too. Daniels selected Iowa over the likes of Ohio State and Alabama, who just so happened to meet each other in the College Football Playoff semifinals last month; Iowa, surprisingly, was not invited to these semifinals. Daniels also held offers from Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and loads of other high-level programs in the B1G and SEC. Iowa likely held an edge with Daniels' older brother LeShun already on campus, but James hasn't made much of this fact in interviews.

At any rate, Daniels is an absolute vacuum at center, finishing blocks with a near-obsessive level of enthusiasm. He played in the 250s and 260s, but according to 247Sports.com he's already over 300 pounds. It's probably not "bad" weight, either; he's already on campus as an early enrollee (thank goodness) and setting his goals high; he told 247Sports he wants to win a national championship, the Rimington Award and "be an All-American multiple times." If only this guy believed in himself!

2015 Outlook: Kirk Ferentz doesn't much cotton to leaning on true freshmen on the offensive line, and he's hardly unique in that regard. If anyone from this class of linemen is going to crack the two-deep or force Ferentz's hand early on, though, it's probably Daniels; he's got the frame and weight already taken care of, and if he's good enough to garner an offer from Ohio State, he's likely good enough to be one of the ten best linemen in Iowa City already. But Iowa's set at center with seniors Austin Blythe and Eric Simmons manning the post, and it's not hurting for depth at guard either. If Ferentz is happy enough with the Welsh-Walsh Connection on the interior to not move Blythe over to guard again and everyone stays healthy, there's probably no reason for Daniels to play in 2015. Looking down the road, though, the Iowa staff must be penciling Daniels in as the starter-in-waiting at center for 2016 and beyond.

FUN FACT: Has traveled to all seven continents except, oddly, Europe. I know, you'd figure that's number two on the list.

BRETT WAECHTER

Tackle, 6'5", 265
Hartley, IA (Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn)

3★ Rivals, 2★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Brett Waechter | Brett Waechter Recruiting Capsule

Another early enrollee, Waechter is already in Iowa City and getting his career started, though Ferentz must be bemused by the "hurry up and redshirt" approach Waechter is taking to his college career; there's really no chance Waechter plays any time soon—which, to be sure, is the way Ferentz likes things with linemen.

Also, there's really a lot to like with Waechter. His frame's ideal at 6'5" and 265 with room for plenty of growth, and his time at DE shows he's got the leverage and quick feet to play anywhere on a Ferentz offensive line. Waechter has mentioned in virtually every interview that Iowa wants him at tackle, but guard may be the quickest avenue to getting him on the field if need be. You'd like to see Waechter improve on his ability to sustain blocks, especially against larger linemen, but that'll probably come as he adds size and experience along a B1G-level line.

2015 Outlook: Barring total disaster above him, redshirt. Waechter's frame is tantalizing but given the weight (he's the lightest offensive lineman coming into camp) and sheer mental prep he (and virtually any other 18-year-old lineman) needs to work on, it'd be surprising if Waechter's on the field before 2017.

FUN FACT: Unconfirmed rumors persist that Waechter is a squirrel whisperer, which he flatly denies. But really, that's exactly what someone who controls a shadow squirrel army would say, isn't it?

LANDAN PAULSEN

Guard/Tackle, 6'6", 285
Moville, IA (Woodbury Central)

3★ Rivals, 4★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Paulsen Twins | Paulsen Twins Recruiting Capsule

Daniels may be the most highly-touted member of the 2015 class, but you could make the argument that the Paulsen twins were the most important recruits of the class, at least as far as maintaining Iowa's identity as a football program goes. The Paulsens are hands-down the two best prospects in the state, even at an unsexy position like offensive line at an unsexy level like Class 1-A.

They've got size to spare, with frames that can project to either tackle spot with ease or as a taller guard, like Eric Steinbach. It's wholly possible they bookend Iowa's line at both tackle spots for multiple seasons, or they could play next to each other. It seems wrong to have one at left tackle and the other at right guard though, right?

Best yet, they're absolute characters and Iowa farm boys to the core; their Gazette profile comes replete with the two sitting outside a barn painted with a giant American flag and the two in matching overalls and hunting gear, shotguns slung (safely) over their shoulders. They're healthily bearded. They're coming to Iowa to pursue environmental science studies, they bale hay and they fish. They're mortal locks to absolutely dominate Beef Days. Yes, they'll fit right in.

Oh, and according to Morehouse, the two "alternate as Central's heavyweight" in high school wrestling, which means the probability they've pulled some Twin Magic is about SEVEN THOUSAND PERCENT. Needless to say, we're thrilled.

2015 Outlook: Probably a redshirt as the two get acclimated to the new level of play. If these guys aren't in the mix by 2017, though, either Iowa's existing offensive line situation is great or something has gone wrong.

FUN FACT: Landan's favorite state to draw from memory is Colorado.

LEVI PAULSEN

Guard/Tackle, 6'6", 275
Moville, IA (Woodbury Central)

3★ Rivals, 4★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Paulsen Twins | Paulsen Twins Recruiting Capsule

Daniels may be the most highly-touted member of the 2015 class, but you could make the argument that the Paulsen twins were the most important recruits of the class, at least as far as maintaining Iowa's identity as a football program goes. The Paulsens are hands-down the two best prospects in the state, even at an unsexy position like offensive line at an unsexy level like Class 1-A.

They've got size to spare, with frames that can project to either tackle spot with ease or as a taller guard, like Eric Steinbach. It's wholly possible they bookend Iowa's line at both tackle spots for multiple seasons, or they could play next to each other. It seems wrong to have one at left tackle and the other at right guard though, right?

Best yet, they're absolute characters and Iowa farm boys to the core; their Gazette profile comes replete with the two sitting outside a barn painted with a giant American flag and the two in matching overalls and hunting gear, shotguns slung (safely) over their shoulders. They're healthily bearded. They're coming to Iowa to pursue environmental science studies, they bale hay and they fish. They're mortal locks to absolutely dominate Beef Days. Yes, they'll fit right in.

Oh, and according to Morehouse, the two "alternate as Central's heavyweight" in high school wrestling, which means the probability they've pulled some Twin Magic is about SEVEN THOUSAND PERCENT. Needless to say, we're thrilled.

2015 Outlook: Probably a redshirt as the two get acclimated to the new level of play. If these guys aren't in the mix by 2017, though, either Iowa's existing offensive line situation is great or something has gone wrong.

FUN FACT: Levi's favorite state to draw from memory is Wyoming.

JACOB NEWBORG

"Interior Lineman", 6'3", 270
Inwood, IA (West Lyon)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Jacob Newborg Recruiting Capsule

If there's any wild card in this mix, it's Newborg, who's probably equally suited for defensive tackle as he is on the offensive side of the ball. He's not a space-eater by any stretch, but Ferentz has gotten plenty out of smaller players, and he's got the lateral movement to excel at both guard/center and a playmaking DT, à la Mitch King. So we're taking a cue from On Iowa and just sticking Newborg with "interior lineman" until Iowa settles on a place for him; this may take years.

Newborg's been a longtime Iowa commitment and there's been no wavering on either side of that equation for the last 17+ months, so trying to gauge his value by his other offers is a fruitless endeavor; no other schools are listed as offering, although who knows if that's because nobody else wanted him or nobody else thought it was worth the effort. Either way, the fact that Iowa jumped on Newborg this early is meaningful, as the last Hawkeye commitment to come that early was an undersized linebacker out of Solon named James Morris.

2015 Outlook: Considering Iowa's relative strength and depth at DT, OG and C, it's hard to see a non-disastrous scenario in which Newborg forces the burning of a redshirt, especially since he's coming out of some pretty low-level competition and will need to get up to speed with B1G play. Maybe current second-stringer at DT Kyle Terlouw (who walked on out of ICCC—like that's ever stopped Ferentz) gets pushed for PT. Probably not. We'll see.

FUN FACT: Newborg is the pride of West Lyon; some might even call him the Lyon King. Simba-ly put, he's the mane recruit to come out of there in quite some time. Naaaaaaaaaaaaants ingonyama bagithi Baba.

NATE VEJVODA

Tight End, 6'5", 215
New Lenox, IL (Providence Catholic)

3★ Rivals, 3★ Scout, 3★ ESPN, 3★ 247Sports

You Might Remember Him From Such Posts As: Have a Seat, Nate Vejvoda | Nate Vejvoda Recruiting Capsule

Kirk Ferentz could look at an ottoman and see a potential left tackle, so naturally whenever someone comes in at TE it's okay to wonder "well, for how long." Vejvoda's not that kind of player, though; he's coming in at 215 pounds and was a de facto wideout at Providence, even though his frame and running style project much better to tight end. The comparisons to Jake Duzey are readily apparent and inevitable, though you could absolutely go with "shorter Scott Chandler."

Of course, height was/is one of Chandler's best assets, and it's fair to wonder if he'd have been an NFL player at all at 6'5". Similarly, Duzey's got a second gear that we don't really see in Vejvoda's film. So there's going to have to be some development before Vejvoda sees the film, something he does better than anybody else. There's no shortage of options; perhaps he's the next lethal red zone target. Maybe he develops the best hands on the team. I like the crispness of his routes; maybe there's something there to build off of. Certainly his blocking could improve, especially with how Ferentz uses his TEs (here, Duzey's not great, but his receiving abilities make him an asset).

2015 Outlook: Redshirt. The S&C staff must be wondering how big they can get Vejvoda without slowing him down, because 215 isn't going to get it done against the Big Ten. Hell, even Duzey weighs 245 at this point.

FUN FACT: Vejvoda is a billionaire-in-waiting as the primary heir to the Vodafone corporation. He even spells "phone" with an F because of this, often at great detriment to his grades!