Reese Morgan must be happy. Iowa is loading up at the position he coaches in this recruiting cycle.
Crystal Lake (IL) Central High Defensive End Romeo McKnight announced his commitment to Iowa Monday during a press conference at his school. He became the 18th known pledge in the 2016 Class and the fifth on the defensive line.
"I had a feeling since my first visit (to Iowa in late May) that’s kind of where I wanted to go. I just wanted to try to be patient and wanted to see a couple of schools. After visiting at the tailgate (June 20) again, I was ready to commit," McKnight said.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound McKnight also reported scholarship offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Illinois State, Miami (Ohio), Toledo, Western Illinois and Wyoming. He said he was hearing from Illinois and Purdue.
"I just thought Iowa was the best place for me to develop. I really like the coaches there. They’re genuine and great coaches. I like Coach (Chris) Doyle and Coach (Reese) Morgan. I thought it was the best place to develop and grow as a player," he said.
Rivals, Scout.com and 247 rank McKnight as a three-star recruit. He’s the No. 20 player overall in Illinois for ’16 per Rivals and Scout tabs him as the No. 14 defensive end in the Midwest Region. .
McKnight joins Cedrick Lattimore, Chauncey Golston, Austin Schulte and Brandon Simon as projected defensive ends in the Hawkeyes’ ’16 class. One or two of them could eventually move inside depending how their bodies develop in the next several years.
"I’m a competitor. I know a couple of them will move and see the field in different places. I might change from D-End. Anyone can switch positions. It wasn’t a factor for me. The more the better. They’re all great players and it will be great to practice with them. This is a good group of D-Linemen," McKnight said.
McKnight won a state wrestling championship last winter. The Hawkeyes have enjoyed success with high school grapplers on the gridiron.
"They’re really big on wrestlers as football players. They know what we can do as wrestlers. That was cool and they told me a lot about the players through the years that have wrestled well in high school and then played well for them," he said.
"It helps with leverage and playing low. It helps with using your hands. It helps with balance."
McKnight canceled visits in recent weeks to Toledo, Illinois and Purdue. The only schools he saw other than Iowa were Northern Iowa and Western Illinois.
"I think I’m done with visits. I don’t think I’m going to take anymore as of right now," he said.
After McKnight committed on Monday, defensive backs Cedric Boswell (Michigan) and Lance Billings (Ohio) pledged to Iowa, bringing the number of known commitments in the ’16 Class to 20. It was expected to get up to 25.
CLASS OF 2016 Verbals (Click on name for profile with game film & other offers)