Iowa Recruiting Coordinator Seth Wallace said earlier this month that the school is not panicking. The coaches feel confident in the progress made in the 2016 recruiting class despite only securing two verbal commitments to date.
The Hawkeyes have the second fewest pledges among Big Ten teams so far in the cycle. Indiana has one. Ohio State leads the way with 12, including a five-star and 10 four stars.
Wallace said that Iowa’s ’16 class was expected to end up in the low-mid 20s. That meant the staff had quite a lot of work ahead of it in rounding out the group.
In an attempt to streamline the following of this pursuit for you folks at AllHawkeyes.com, I’m unveiling my 2016 Football Recruiting Big Board. I’ll roll this out as often as possible to update you on the process.
The Big Board isn’t a list of the top prospects with Iowa offers. Rather, I compile this rundown based on several factors. I mix them together and hope to produce for readers my educated guess for where the Hawkeyes stand with a given class. Recruiting is fluid and ever-changing, and this content should be viewed as a guide, not gospel.
In a nutshell, the Big Board consists of prospects with Iowa offers that are realistic targets. I base that on information I gather through my interviews and also outside sources.
Here’s a look at the AH 2016 Big Board 1.0:
1. Cedrick Lattimore
Height, Weight: 6-5, 245
Position: Defensive End
School: Detroit East English Village Prep
Reported Offers: Ball State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Iowa, Miami (OH), Toledo.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (3 Stars), 247 (NR)
Skinny: I know what you’re thinking – Howe has a guy with a MAC offers at the top of his Big Board? He’s lost it, man. Let’s be honest (and realistic). Iowa doesn’t have a lot of momentum right now, and that includes recruiting. The attainability of a recruit is a big factor on our big board. I like Lattimore’s film, he played high school ball with Desmond King, he visited campus recently and I think he’ll get bigger offers. The Hawks have a head start and need to finish the race.
2. Jovan Swann
Height, Weight: 6-3, 250
Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Greenwood (IN) Center Grove High
Reported Offers: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Ball State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Miami (OH), Mississippi State, Navy, Western Michigan.
Rankings: Rivals (3 stars, 34th DT Nationally, 4th in Indiana), Scout (3 stars, 29th DT Nationally, 1st in Indiana), 247 (3 stars, 38th DT Nationally, 4th in Indiana)
Skinny: Iowa jumped in relatively early with Swann and positioned itself well. He visited the school in early March and returned for Saturday’s open spring practice. Since that first stop when Swann raved about the Hawkeyes and said they were "a front-runner" in his decision-making process, Michigan State and Vanderbilt have offered. Iowa must continue pushing forward here.
3. Parker Boudreaux
Height, Weight: 6-5, 290
Position: Offensive Line
School: Orlando (FL) Bishop Moore
Reported Offers: More than 70. Recently released Top 10 of Georgia Southern, Clemson, Penn State, Notre Dame, Auburn, Oklahoma, Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida and Iowa.
Rankings: Rivals (4 stars, 22nd OT Nationally, 42nd regardless of position in Florida), Scout (3 stars, 24th OG Nationally, 4th OG in Florida), 247 (4 stars, 8th OG Nationally, 31st regardless of position in Florida)
Skinny: Yes, this one is a long shot but he put Iowa in his Top 10 and always has had good things to say about the Hawkeyes. After loading up on the offensive line in the ’15 cycle, Iowa likely will downshift to take only two or three at the position this go-around. And they’re aiming high, holding off from offering some solid prospects in the region. The Hawks could create a big ripple landing a nationally known prospect like Boudreaux.
4. Kyle Taylor
Height, Weight: 6-2, 220
Position: Inside Linebacker
School: Washington, D.C. Gonzaga College
Reported Offers: Iowa, Boston College, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin.
Rankings: Rivals (3 stars, 16th ILB Nationally, 5th regardless of position in DC), Scout (3 stars, 64th OLB Nationally, 2nd OLB in DC), 247 (3 stars, 12th ILB Nationally, 5th regardless of position in DC)
Skinny: Iowa was one of the first schools to offer the younger brother of current Hawkeye strong safety Miles Taylor. Kyle visited Kinnick Saturday for the open spring practice. Iowa sits in solid position here because of the family tie and long relationship but him becoming a Hawkeye is not a lay-up.
5. J.D. Spielman
Height, Weight: 5-9, 175
School: Eden Prairie (MN) High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (3 stars, 84th WR Nationally, 2nd WR in Minnesota), 247 (3 stars, 86th ATH Nationally, 7th regardless of position in Minnesota)
Skinny: The adopted son of Rick Spielman, the Minnesota Vikings general manager and brother of former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman, visited Iowa in March. Iowa assistant Chris White worked for the Vikings before joining the Hawkeyes. The connections are good enough here to keep Iowa in the game. If Jonathan Parker can succeed at wide receiver and in the return game, that would be a good hook for J.D. Spielman, who offers a similar skill set.
6. Nick Niemann
Height, Weight: 6-3, 210
School: Sycamore (IL) High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Miami (Ohio), Montana St., Southern Illinois.
Rankings: Rivals (3 stars, 20th regardless of position in Illinois), Scout (2 stars), 247 (3 stars)
Skinny: Like No. 4 on the board, Kyle Taylor, Niemann’s older brother, Ben, is a projected starter on this year’s Iowa defense. Ben plays linebacker. Nick looks a lot like his older sibling in body type and projects as an athletic outside linebacker that can run with tight ends. Nick is more heavily recruited than was Ben, who first verbally committed to Northern Illinois as a wide receiver. The Hawkeyes offered Nick early and appear to be in good shape. He visited the school again Saturday.
7. Barrington Wade
Height, Weight: 6-1, 210
Position: Running Back/Linebacker
School: Skokie (IL) Niles North
Reported Offers: Iowa, Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Western Michigan.
Rankings: Rivals (3 stars, 23th regardless of position in Illinois), Scout (3 stars, 61st RB nationally, 13th RB Midwest, 3rd RB Illinois), 247 (3 stars, 58th RB nationally, 19th regardless of position in Illinois)
Skinny: Wade returned to Iowa City Saturday for the open practice. The Hawkeyes remain his lone Power-5 offer but he has interest from others. More could come at summer camps and it appears he’s hoping to add them. Iowa is in good shape here, building a relationship with weekly contact and receiving multiple campus visits. However, the longer this recruitment lasts, the longer the Iowa odds will be to land him.
8. Noah Fant
Height, Weight: 6-5, 210
Position: Tight End/Defensive End
School: Omaha (NE) South High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Buffalo, Iowa State, Nebraska, Ohio, Vanderbilt, Wyoming.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (3 stars, 64th DE nationally, 14th DE Midlands, 1st DE in Nebraska), 247 (3 stars, 68th WDE nationally, 4th regardless of position in Nebraska)
Skinny: A lot of schools see Fant as an athletic edge rusher. Iowa is in that group but prefers him as a skilled tight end that makes plays with the ball in his hands. Fant likes the idea of playing offense and has the Hawkeyes in his Top 4 after visiting for Saturday’s open spring scrimmage. He’s visiting Vanderbilt in May and hopes to have a decision later that month. The money is on the home-state Huskers here but Iowa is in the race.
9. Mark Gooden
Height, Weight: 6-1, 230
Position: Outside Linebacker/Defensive End
School: Reynoldburg (OH) High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Air Force, Boston College, Bowling Green, Harvard, Indiana, Yale, Kent State, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Northwestern, Ohio, Toledo, Vanderbilt.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (2 stars), 247 (3 stars, 86th OLB nationally, 58th regardless of position in Ohio)
Skinny: Gooden attended an Iowa junior day in early March and his review was very positive. Other Power 5 schools like Indiana, Boston College and Vanderbilt have come in with offers but the Hawkeyes remain firmly in the mix for his services. At last check, he was going to wait until at least the conclusion of summer camps to make a decision and could run it out to the end of his senior season.
10. Brandon Drayton
Height, Weight: 6-2, 180
School: Largo (FL) High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Georgia Southern, Indiana, Liberty, Marshall, South Florida, Syracuse, Toledo.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (NR), 247 (NR)
Skinny: Iowa hosted 2015 Largo safety Jonathan Crawford on an official visit only to see him end up at Indiana. The Hoosiers are part of the competition for Drayton, who plays at the school coached by former Hawkeye defensive back Marcus Paschal. Drayton said he will visit Iowa City and Bloomington this summer but that his decision will not be influenced by Crawford being at Indiana. Time will tell.
11. Noah Ellison
Height, Weight: 6-2, 195
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Erial (NJ) Timber Creek High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Temple, Old Dominion.
Rankings: Rivals (2 Stars, 34th regardless of position in New Jersey), Scout (3 stars, 137th WR nationally, 22nd WR in East Region, 6th WR in New Jersey), 247 (3 stars, 111th WR nationally, 27th regardless of position in New Jersey)
Skinny: Iowa stands out as the lone Power-5 offer for Ellison and its building a strong foundation in recruiting him. Schools like Syracuse, Boston College and Rutgers are hosting him on visits and preparing to pounce with an offer if someone higher on their boards comes off of it. Ellison knows former Hawkeye linebacker Quinton Alston, who also prepped at Timer Creek. Ellison is scheduled to visit Iowa City this summer.
12. James Robinson
Height, Weight: 5-11, 200
Position: Running Back
School: Rockford (IL) Lutheran
Reported Offers: Iowa, Illinois State.
Rankings: Rivals (3 Stars), Scout (2 stars), 247 (NR).
Skinny: Iowa signed one running back in each of its last two classes meaning it’s likely to grab at least two of them in this cycle. Wisconsin’s Toren Young is in the fold verbally. Wade could come in as an athlete should he pledge. Robinson is flying under the radar right now due to his competition being of the small-school variety. It’s overshadowing excellent production which has put him in position to break the all-time Illinois rushing record next fall. He’s planning to visit Nebraska soon and other Big Ten schools are showing interest. A big summer at team camps could raise his stock.
13. Albert Okwuegbunam
Height, Weight: 6-5, 225
Position: Tight End
School: Springfield (IL) Sacred Heart Griffin
Reported Offers: Iowa, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Nevada, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Toledo, Western Michigan, Wyoming.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (2 stars), 247 (3 Stars, No. 18 tight end nationally, No. 9 overall player in Illinois).
Skinny: Like running back, the Hawkeyes need to replenish the tight end position. Okwuegbunam is probably one of their best shots to land one of those that they’ve offered. He visited for spring ball and came away impressed with what he saw. He’s embracing the history of his position at the school and feels like the system will utilize his skills. Minnesota is the stiffest competition among the programs who have offered.
14. Darrian Hammonds
Height, Weight: 6-0, 225
Position: Running Back
School: Arlington (TX) Juan Seguin High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Air Force, Army, Kansas, Louisiana-Monroe.
Rankings: Rivals (3 Stars), Scout (NR), 247 (3 Stars, No. 76 running back nationally, No. 133 overall player in Texas).
Skinny: We’ve discussed the need for running backs and Hammonds fits the role of big back that the Hawkeyes have become accustomed to having on their roster. LeShun Daniels would be a senior for Hammonds’ true freshman year, opening up that spot in his second season. Iowa looks like the favorite now with the only other Power 5 offer coming from Kansas but you get the sense Hammonds is holding out for something closer to home.
15. Jarett Cole
Height, Weight: 5-10, 180
School: Norcross (GA) High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Boston College, Buffalo, Furman, Georgia State, Kansas State, Toledo, Wake Forest.
Rankings: Rivals (3 Stars), Scout (NR), 247 (NR).
Skinny: Perhaps Cole helps Iowa break through in the Peach State even if he just transferred in from North Carolina. It’s come up empty there in the last several cycles but has cultivated relationships at Norcross and other schools in the Atlanta area. Cole visited Iowa in the spring and named the Hawkeyes his leader. He’s an athletic corner who might also grow into a safety.
16. Patrick Johnson II
Height, Weight: 6-0, 180
School: Potomac (MD), Bullis School
Reported Offers: Iowa, Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Marshall, Michigan State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Oklahoma, Old Dominion, Rutgers, Towson, Wisconsin.
Rankings: Rivals (3 Stars, 26th overall in Maryland), Scout (3 Stars, 42nd Safety nationally, 7th Safety in East, 3rd safety in Maryland), 247 (3 Stars, 63rd athlete nationally, 21st overall in Maryland).
Skinny: Based on talent, Johnson would sit hire on this list. But the competition is stiff and he still needs to visit Iowa City, which he’s said he’d try to do this summer. His aunt lives in the Hawkeye State, so that’s a plus. He projects as a safety at the next level but also is the type of athlete that could end up at other spots depending on the system and his physical development.
17. Tim Wilson
Height, Weight: 6-4, 185
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Plano (TX) East
Reported Offers: Iowa.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (NR), 247 (NR).
Skinny: Iowa sees something with Wilson that others haven’t. The Hawkeyes know how to spot talent and frequently are ahead of others in offering players. Mississippi State is starting to show interest in Wilson, who reminds me of Iowa senior Jacob Hillyer, who was another under-recruited, lanky Texas prep. Wilson is looking to visit Iowa City this summer and that could go a long way in bringing in the Lone Star State product.
18. Devonte Young
Height, Weight: 6-2, 185
Position: Wide Receiver
School: Brandywine (MD) Gwynn Park
Reported Offers: Iowa.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (NR), 247 (NR).
Skinny: A lot of what I said about Tim Wilson applies here. Iowa is out in front for the Maryland pass catcher after offering way back in October. He clocked a 10.91-second 100 meters and a 21.66 in the 200 last spring. He also offers good size to go with that speed. Young has tried to get to Iowa City in the winter and again in the spring but wasn’t able to work it out. Iowa needs to get him on campus and that could happen this summer.
19. Quinn Nordin
Height, Weight: 6-2, 200
School: Rockford (MI) High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Arizona State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Illinois, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Western Michigan.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (3 Stars), 247 (3 Stars, No. 1 kicker nationally, No. 26 overall in Michigan).
Skinny: The Hawkeyes were among the first schools to offer the top-rated kicker in the country, their offer coming a day after Penn State’s and behind Western Michigan and Miami (Ohio). Home-state Michigan and other Power 5s have followed. There was a time when it looked like a Iowa-PSU dual but with Michigan coming in and Michigan State poking around, that might not be good news for the schools outside the Great Lakes State.
20. Jordon Robertson
Height, Weight: 6-4, 255
Position: Defensive End
School: Dallas Bishop Dunne
Reported Offers: Iowa, Nevada.
Rankings: Rivals (2 Stars), Scout (NR), 247 (3 Stars, No. 55 SDE nationally, No. 148 overall in Texas).
Skinny: Iowa hung in until the end with Robertson’s cousin, 4-Star Bishop Dunne DT Darrion Daniels, in the last cycle. The Hawkeyes were the first school to offer Robertson when they jumped in at the end of 2014. Robertson doesn’t appear to be in a rush to complete his process and could gain momentum with a strong senior year for a traditionally strong prep program.