Iowa told Caramel (Ind.) linebacker John Kenny he was one of their top linebacker prospects. Kenny visited Arizona, but had already locked in on the Hawkeyes and that was that.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder announced his commitment Friday, choosing Iowa over the Wildcats, Boise State, Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern. He is Iowa’s seventh commitment for the 2013 class, a unprecedented early hot streak for an Iowa recruiting class that should be in the range of 17 to 20.
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson was the primary recruiter with an assist from linebackers coach LeVar Woods.
“I feel really comfortable with coach Woods,” Kenny told HawkeyeReport.com. “The first time that we met, l loved the way he ran the meetings and worked at practice. He is a good guy off the field and easy to talk to and he can get after it a bit in the meetings and on the field. He tells you what you need to hear and I appreciate that from a coach.”
Iowa wasn’t kidding when it said Kenny was its top linebacker prospect. Iowa coaches told Kenny he would start out at outside linebacker (Leo in Iowa’s system), but could grow into an inside linebacker. Iowa offered just two inside linebackers, Kenny and Missouri’s Nick Ramirez, who has committed to the Tigers. So, this was a strategic strike for Iowa, which goes into 2012 with three junior starters at linebacker.
Iowa has only two other linebacker offers out to players who haven’t committed, Fort Wayne, Ind., Jaylon Smith and Mike Mitchell of Plano, Texas.
Kenny is the second Indiana prep to commit to the Hawkeyes for 2013. He joins Pike (Indianapolis) defensive end David Kenney.
‘We have been texting back and forth for a while and I know he loves Iowa,” Kenny said. “He’s visited there four or five times. He has been helping me in terms of talking back and forth, but he didn’t really pressure me to come to Iowa. It will be awesome to have someone that I know and feel comfortable with going there with me.
Scouting snippet (from ESPN.com)
The Positive: Kenny is a tough, "mix it up" type guy who plays with the aggressive attitude we look for when evaluating linebackers. Has the size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. His frame looks very capable of adding the bulk needed to play at the next level. This is a good wrap tackler who allows very little yardage after contact; should be very effective playing a variety of positions on special teams. Although we detect some hip tightness when playing in space his nose for ball and instincts get him to the football whether defending the run or pass; plays both "on" and "off" the line and on occasion will put his hand in the dirt to rush the quarterback. His initial quickness gets him off the mark, allowing him to play downhill aggressively to the point of attack; moves through traffic well when playing in space, demonstrating the ability to beat blockers to the football; does an excellent job pursuing the ball, showing relentless sideline to sideline effort; this prospect doesn't stay blocked!
The Pause (nothing, really): Is effective as an edge rusher, demonstrating the upper body strength and burst needed to force the quarterback out of the pocket. This guy is a playmaker, capable of changing the momentum of a game. If a red shirt year is not deemed necessary, Kenny could see early situational playing time.
What Iowa said . . .
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson (who was one of the primary recruiters on Kenny): “He was a guy we offered early. He committed to us early. Tremendous person, tremendous family. He comes from a great program at Carmel High School. I always continue to research my guys after the fact [commitment], not only talking to his high school coach but also asking coaches in the area. There were a lot of guys in the area who thought he was the best player in Indianapolis. It's nice when you get that and you hope they're not just saying that because he was a Hawkeye at that point. I think the guys I was asking would tell me the truth on how they felt about guys. Opposing coaches even said they gameplanned to stay away from him. We have a huge need at the linebacker spot from a depth standpoint, and hopefully he can add to that depth." Iowa went into Indiana and got Kenny. It also had DE David Kenney, but wasn't able to hang on. "It was a good year in that state. There were a lot of good prospects in that state. I'll give Indiana a lot of credit. They did a tremendous job locking a lot of those kids up."
What Rivals.com said . . .
Midwest recruiting coordinator Josh Helmholdt: “I like him as an inside linebacker. He's got to bulk up a little bit when he gets to the next level, but in a college training program, that shouldn't be a problem for him. Kenny is one of those guys you can throw into the middle of the defense and he's going to gobble up tackles. He's a guy who can, No. 1, lead a defense and stand in front of defensive huddle and command the attention of the 10 other guys and also be a good lockerroom guy and, No. 2, be a tackle machine."
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
Probably an inside linebacker and maybe a middle linebacker in the making. How long will it take for him to reach 230-235? He's already on campus, Twitter-free and in the Chris Doyle weightroom. I want to say this will take time, but Iowa needs linebackers, needs linebacker depth. That also means Iowa is looking for impact players on special teams. The fact that Kenny is here now will give coaches enough time to know whether or not he's ready.