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2015 IOWA FOOTBALL RECRUITING: THE CLASS IN REVIEW

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National Signing Day is in the books, so how do we really feel about this recruiting class?

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Here's your full list of all of Iowa's 21 commits in their 2015 football recruiting class, courtesy 247 Sports:

All 21 commits have signed letters of intent and, so far as we know, all have the necessary grades and test scores to be admitted to Iowa.  So there should be no drama on that front.

FINAL TEAM RANKINGS

Scout: 50th

Rivals: 58th

247: 60th

Scout likes Iowa's class the most, but no one is over the moon about it, which comes as no surprise -- it's comprised almost entirely of 3* players and those types of recruits don't tend to get the blood racing.  The conference rankings are no friendlier to Iowa:

Scout: 10th (ahead of just Rutgers, Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue)

Rivals: 13th (ahead of just Purdue)

247: 12th (ahead of just Minnesota and Purdue)

(So there's a consensus that we beat Purdue in recruiting, at least.  Suck it, OMHR...)

I wouldn't necessarily get too hung up on the exact rankings there -- Iowa isn't that far away from Minnesota (9th) in Rivals' rankings, for instance.  That said, the overall picture those rankings paint is clear: this recruiting class ranked in the bottom half of the Big Ten.  That is not a good place to be if you want to field a team genuinely capable of contending for Big Ten championships and exciting bowl berths.

Or put another way: there is a consensus opinion that Illinois -- led by Tim freaking Beckman -- and Indiana -- who treats football as a mildly diverting way to kill time until basketball season tips off -- landed better recruiting classes than Iowa. That would be the same that Iowa that is a school that ostensibly cares a great deal about football and has a coaching staff that is a) well-respected (by fellow coaches at the college and high school ranks) and b) has been around long enough to theoretically have strong relationships with high school coaches and programs in several areas.

Now we can trust that Ferentz & Co. will take this bunch of recruits and "coach 'em up" and develop them into players whose actual performances exceed those of their counterparts in the more highly regarded Illinois and Indiana classes... and history suggests that there's a good chance that he'll do just that.  But there's a ceiling on just how high you can "coach 'em up" and Iowa's hit that ceiling quite often in recent years.  At some point you need to get better ingredients if you're going to make a killer dish.  (For the time being, we're going to ignore the issue of whether or not the recipe we're using to make that dish is too outdated to be of use, but it's a valid line of questioning to pursue at another time.)

Personally, I don't hate this class or think that it's terrible.  There are some very good building blocks for the offensive line -- Daniels could be a standout interior lineman very soon and the Paulsen twins look like exactly the sort of guys Iowa has had great success molding into powerful maulers in the past.  Angelo Garbutt looks like a very nice late addition to the class, a fast, rangy athlete with other legitimate offers who can compete for playing time at outside linebacker.  Boyle and Cook both bring interesting skill sets to the quarterback position and could give Iowa more of a running than threat than its had at that spot in a very long time.  Smith and Falconer bring some impressive speed to the wide receiver position.

This would be a more palatable class if Iowa had better pieces in place right now and if it hadn't whiffed on so many high-profile recruits in other recent classes, too.  This appears to be a decent developmental class.  The problem is that Iowa doesn't need a developmental class right now -- it doesn't need guys who might be good in 2-3 years, it needs guys who can play now and make a difference.  And, unfortunately, this class is pretty devoid of guys like that.

In terms of handing out a few distinctions for members of this class:

Most Likely to Play Immediately: Until yesterday, I had RB Karan Higdon pegged for this spot.  Then he heard the siren song of Jim Harbaugh and bolted for Ann Arbor.  Still, de-commitments taketh, but they also giveth and in OLB Angelo Garbutt, I think Iowa got a player who can help right away.  He has the quickness and the size to help out immediately at outside linebacker, on special teams, and as a blitzer in the Raider package.  How much he plays is likely down to how quickly he's able to grasp coverage responsibilities.

Best Prospect: It's probably cheating a bit to tab Iowa's most highly-regarded recruit, but OL James Daniels really does look like a keeper.  He probably won't play in 2015 (freshmen offensive linemen rarely do), but he looks like a good bet to be penciled in for a spot somewhere along the interior line in 2016; it would be a lot of fun to watch him open holes for his older brother, LeShun Daniels.

Best Sleeper: Of the three receiver prospects Iowa added, WR Adrian Falconer looks like the most ready-to-go.  He's the biggest (6-1, 189), played against the best competition (he was second-team All-State in Florida's Class 6A), and, based on the highlights, has a mix of speed and technique that could help Iowa immediately.  Outside of Tevaun Smith, there's nothing settled at the wide receiver position for 2015.

And, finally, looking at some of the trends in this recruiting class:

1) This class leaned toward offense.

12 of Iowa's 21 commits are slated to play on the offensive side of the ball, including two quarterbacks, three wide receivers, and a host of offensive linemen.  That makes sense, though, because last year's class was very heavy on defenders, particularly the defensive backfield (Iowa grabbed five defensive backs last year, which probably explains why they took very few -- if any -- this year.)  Iowa only added two offensive linemen last year; they responded by adding at least five this year.

2) This class was heavy on in-state kids.

Iowa certainly locked down the state borders this year, bringing in nine home state kids in this class.  That's the most since Iowa signed 10 Iowans in its 2009 recruiting class.  That 2009 class ended up being one of the weakest recruiting classes of Ferentz's tenure and a major reason behind Iowa's struggles in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but I don't think that's because it was so Iowa-heavy.  Iowa players actually were actually some of the most successful members of that class (Brett Van Sloten, Conor Boffeli, Jordan Cotton, Keenan Davis, that one year of Brandon Wegher).  In comparison, Iowa got almost nothing out of its non-Iowan contingent that year (save for Micah Hyde).

For a developmental program like Iowa, getting guys to stick around and put in the time is critical and the Hawkeys have (unsurprisingly) had much better success at getting in-state kids (or kids from neighboring states) to do that than they have kids from more far-flung states.  The majority of Iowa's attrition has come from guys who don't have ties to the area.  That provides some reason to hope that the developmental guys in this class might actually develop into good players.  (Of course, a more cynical viewpoint would suggest that it also means they'll hang around longer and if they don't develop into useful players, then they'll be taking up scholarships that could go to other, potentially more useful recruits down the road; the upshot of attrition is that it gives you more bites at the recruiting apple.)

3) This class had an unusual recruiting map.

Iowa landed zero kids from Ohio, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey this year and just two from Illinois.  On the other hand, they landed four players from Texas, one player each from Florida and Alabama, and were more active in general in the South than they have been since the beginning of Ferentz's tenure.  Iowa has hit Texas harder ever since Greg Davis arrived, so it's not too shocking to see that finally beginning to bear fruit.  And Iowa's new recruiting coordinator, Seth Wallace, has some southern ties (he coached at Valdosta State in Georgia prior to coming to Iowa), so seeing things pick up there also makes sense.  It's too soon to judge whether this is truly the beginning of a trend yet -- and, if it is, whether it's a good trend or not.  Iowa's had success combing through Texas and (especially) Florida for under-the-radar guys in the past, but it's also yielded plenty of misfires and there's a definite risk in taking on guys that are fifth or sixth choice among schools down there. (Just ask Iowa State.)

4) Iowa's running back recruitment is a mess.

For a program that likes running the ball and wants very much to run the ball, Iowa sure has a hell of a time landing big-time running back recruits.  To be fair, Higdon looked like a nice pick-up at running back and Iowa appeared to have him in the bag until an 11th hour offer from Michigan.  And that late, late, laaaaate switch made it hard to find a replacement, hence the Hail Mary offer to Eric Graham.  But maybe Iowa should have been hedging its bets a little bit more earlier in the recruiting process?  It's not like Iowa had been killing it in running back recruiting prior to this class -- they added just one running back recruit a year ago (C.J. Hilliard, who redshirted in 2014) and two lightly-recruited backs the year before that (Jonathan Parker and Akrum Wadley, both of whom seem likely to grade out as "change of pace"/third-down backs).

The Big Ten featured an incredible bounty of running backs last season -- Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Ameer Abdullah, Jeremy Langford, David Cobb, and Ezekiel Elliott -- but not one of them was a 2* recruit.  Most of them (Cobb and Langford were the exceptions) featured a host of offers from other legitimate programs.  Iowa hasn't landed a running back like that since Marcus Coker... and that was five years ago.

5) Project: Defensive Line

Iowa brought in four defensive line recruits in 2015 and if any of them see the field before 2017, something has probably gone horribly wrong.  They're not bad players and they all have something to recommend about them, but they also all need significant prep time before they're going to be ready to contribute.  Sometimes that just means bulking up -- Iowa signed two defensive ends in the 215-225 range.  Sometimes that means learning how to play a new position -- Michael Slater was a middle linebacker in high school, so there's going to be an adjustment period there.  Given the overwhelming number of question marks Iowa already has at the defensive line position --- who do you really feel good about there outside of Drew Ott and maybe Nate Meier? -- it would have been nice to add some talent that could help Iowa sooner... because odds are Iowa's going to need help there pretty soon.