Welcome back HawkeyeReport.com's Tom Kakert and his update on Iowa recruiting.
I love being able to bring you this and want to thank Tom for what I consider an incredibly valuable contribution to "On Iowa."
I can't wait to fire up the chats on HawkeyeReport.com's "Hawkeye Lounge" board this year. Love the interaction and love the discussion.
Thanks for reading.
The days of a few football commits heading into the season are long gone.
We have now entered the era of early verbal commits in a sport where waiting was once the norm.
Take a look at the Rivals.com team rankings and you see Tennessee sitting on 24 verbal commits. Miami has 23 on board. Florida State with 20 pledges and upstart Kentucky already has 20 commitments. A few short years ago, double figures at this time of year would have been a big story.
This is the landscape of college football today and Iowa is playing along. The Hawkeyes have 12 verbal commitments on board for the 2014 class and currently they are ranked #43 in the nation by Rivals.com.
With the 12 verbal commitments (key word is verbal because commitments at this time are non-binding), Iowa is likely over halfway home for the Class that will sign in early February 2014. According to the HawkeyeReport.com Scholarship Distribution Chart, Iowa has 15 scholarship seniors in 2013, so thatís the baseline number. Of course, there will be attrition so the number will grow and as I like to point out when fans quibble with the numbers we expect Iowa to sign, Kirk Ferentz has never signed less than 20 prospect in any class.
[Ferentz said yesterday anywhere between 18 and 22.]
The best guess in 2014 is that the class tops out in the low 20ís for the Hawkeyes.
Where have they done a solid job of filling needs thus far in this class?
OFFENSIVE LINE: The Hawkeyes lose four seniors and have two juniors on the roster, so they have to get some help on the offensive line, particularly at tackle. Thus far they have commitments from three prospects, all in-state linemen in 2014, led by Ross Pierschbacher, who projects to the tackle position. They also have commitments from Lucas LeGrand and Keegan Render. Iowa would probably like to land at least one more prospect on the offensive line and ideally it would be a tackle. The top name for the Hawkeyes is probably Brian Wallace, a highly sought tackle from Missouri.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Coming into the 2014 recruiting cycle, defensive line, specifically defensive end, was a huge need for Iowa. Thereís still work to do, but Iowa has verbal commitments from Cedar Rapids prep Matt Nelson, who turned down Notre Dame and Stanford, and Terrence Harris out of New Jersey.† The best guess is that Iowa would like to land at least one more defensive and probably a tackle to round out this group. Names to watch include Silvester Hayes from Texas, Torey Hendricks from New York, and Chris Nelson from Florida.
LINEBACKER:† With three seniors graduating this year and two junior contributors, Iowa needs to start filling holes at linebacker. They signed three prospects in 2013 and will probably add at least three more in 2014. The good news is they have verbal commitments from two of their top targets in the recently committed Ben Niemann and New Jersey prep Jameer Outsey. Aaron Mends, who Iowa offered at their camp this summer, could be the next commit when he visits this weekend. Other names to watch are Jawhaun Bentley from Maryland and Brandon Lee from Indianapolis.
KICKER: With Mike Meyer moving on after this season, Iowa will need another place kicker. They appear to have found one in Texas kicker Mick Ellis, who is a top five kicker in this class.
STILL NEED SOME HELP
DEFENSIVE BACK: Iowa has two commitments and some younger players in the pipeline, but they need to pick up at least two more commits at cornerback and safety. Omar Truitt, who visited Tennessee this past weekend, is committed and says he is staying with the Hawkeyes. Jyaz Jones, the brother of freshman wide receiver A.J. Jones, is also on board. Two names to watch include Craig James from Illinois, who seems to be favoring Iowa at this time. Also keep an eye on Andrew Jones from Texas, Raymond Wingo from St. Louis, and Marcel Joly from Maryland.
RUNNING BACK: On paper, running back is not a huge need for the Hawkeyes in the Class of 2014, but as we know, it always ends up being the need. I think every Iowa fan would agree with that statement. C.J. Hilliard from Ohio has committed and is firmly on board. Incidentally, Hilliardís brother, Justin, who is a 2015 prospect, is one of the top linebacker prospects in the country. Names to watch for a second commit are Treyvon Hughes from Texas, Markel Smith from St. Louis, and Chris James from Illinois.
WIDE RECEIVER: Iowa really loaded up with receivers in 2013, so itís not a huge need position in terms of numbers this year. They did aim high with a couple of highly ranked wide receivers this year and thus far they have missed on all their targets. Chris Jones from Maryland and Chris Lacy from Texas could be two names to watch, but I only expect one or two receivers to sign with Iowa in 2014.
TIGHT END: Much like wide receiver, the tight end position isnít a huge need for the Hawkeyes in 2014. Having said that, tight end is like quarterback and you see Iowa take at least one every year. Iowa got in on a couple of top rated tight ends early, but they committed elsewhere. Iowa appears to be in decent shape with 2014 tight end Ryan Izzo out of New Jersey, so he will be a name to watch.QUARTERBACK: As with every class, Iowa will look to add a scholarship quarterback to the roster. Having said that, there are no senior quarterbacks on the roster, so the Hawkeyes can be picky with their options.† Technically, Iowa does have a quarterback a commitment from a quarterback in four star prospect Jay Scheel from La Porte City, but there is a pretty decent chance that he eventually ends up at wide receiver, which could explain why Iowa has no commitments at that position. Keep an eye on Michigan prep Tyler Wiegers. He is currently committed to Rutgers, but Iowa is trying to get back in the conversation.