Iowa needs running backs. Iowa seemingly always needs running backs.
The Hawkeyes offered 11 RBs in the 2014 class and had some “no thanks” thrown their way until Thursday morning, when C.J. Hilliard announced on his Twitter account that he committed.
Officially committed to the University of Iowa! #Hawkeyes— CJ Hilliard (@mynamecarl) June 6, 2013
Hilliard, 5-11, 192 pounds, had nine scholarship offers and picked Iowa over Indiana and Boston College. Rivals.com rates Hilliard the nation’s No. 17 all-purpose back.
“When I went there, it was just a really good feeling,” Hilliard told Rivals.com. “I know my parents loved it, Justin loved it and it was a great atmosphere for our family. My parents were pulling for me to go to Iowa.
“The main thing that struck me was, some other top programs care about you just as a player but at Iowa they really care about you off the field as well as they do on the field. That really made an impression on me.”
Hilliard is the fifth commitment for the Hawkeyes. He’s also the second this week and this second this week that had Iowa assistant Chris White as the main recruiter. Hilliard said White’s, and head coach Kirk Ferentz’s, NFL ties didn’t hurt.
“They both coached in the NFL and Coach White was associated with Adrian Peterson at the Minnesota Vikings,” Hilliard said. “He knows what it takes to get to the League and he told me straight-up that he’ll give me a chance to get to the next level.”
Iowa will try to make this a package deal. The Hawkeyes also offered Hilliard’s brother, Justin, a 6-2, 225-pound linebacker. Don’t expect C.J. to give the hard sell to Justin.
“I will probably sit that one out,” Hilliard told Rivals.com. “I don’t want to get in his ear because if that was me I would be pretty annoyed.”
Justin Hilliard told HawkeyeReport.com this morning, “I have no lead school as of now but I would say that it gives them [Iowa] an edge/advantage.”
C.J. Hilliard rushed for 629 yards and nine touchdowns for St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati and was second-team all-GCL South in 2012.
How many scholarships does Iowa have for 2014?
Iowa has a small senior class with 15 exhausting their eligibility this year. Last season, Iowa had 16 seniors move on and still signed a class of 21. There will be a level of attrition, either through injury or transfer, but you can’t count on that. Big Ten teams can oversign by three if the school gives the conference a structured plan to be at 85 scholarships when camp opens in August.
So, mathematically, Iowa could be a third of the way finished with the ’14 class. Hilliard is the Hawkeyes’ fifth commitment.
Ross Pierschbacher, OL, 6-4, 275 Cedar Falls High School ****
Jay Scheel, QB 6-2, 170 Union High School (La Porte City) ****
Lucas LeGrand, OL, 6-5, 260 Dubuque Senior High School ***
Omar Truitt, CB, 5-11, 185, St. John’s College High School (Washington D.C.) ***
C.J. Hilliard, RB, 5-9, 192, St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) ***
* — Rivals.com star rating
Here’s a link from Hudl.com. One thing that will stand out to you is the number of swing passes Hilliard caught. It looks as though Hilliard caught 12 passes for 55 yards in 2012.
On the running plays, Hilliard looks a lot like an Iowa back, one read, one cut and go. Runs to open space, not overly powerful but solid instinctual moves.
Shows some home run speed and sturdiness here. Excellent vision, good hands and seamless run after catch. Things you can’t teach.