’16 Football Recruiting Big Board 5.0
IOWA CITY, Iowa – What a different a month makes.
On May 17, Iowa stood at two verbal commitments. It’d gone five months without a pledge.
Now, the Hawkeyes stand at 20 known members of the 2016 Class. They’ve suddenly had to turn players away.
Oklahoma defensive back Max Wariboko announced an Iowa commitment on Twitter last week only to find out the Big Ten school was full at his position.
Noah Ellison, a receiver from New Jersey, named the Hawkeyes, Temple and Old Dominion as his finalists on Friday and said he would be announcing Monday. Iowa has filled up at his spot so it has to be one of the other two programs.
The Hawkeyes strategy this year was to offer more than 200 scholarships to prospects across the country. Casting such a wide net made it more likely that players like Wariboko and Ellison would be shut out.
Of course, February’s signing day sits a long way off. Nobody should be surprised if a player or two de-commits. That’s a prominent part of the landscape these days.
It’s difficult to predict de-commitments, however. We like to say it’s a fluid situation.
The Iowa coaches will continue recruiting the kids who have verbally committed. They’ll continue working with other players on their board who could move up if there is an opening. Wariboko is one of those guys.
As it stands now, Iowa could take up to five more recruits in this class, maxing out at 25. We’ll work off that number, again, realizing it’s fluid.
With that in mind, we tackle The All Hawkeyes 2016 Big Board 5.0:
(Explaining the Big Board: It’s not a listing of the top prospects with Iowa offers. Rather, I compile this rundown based on several factors mixed together in hopes of producing my most 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.)
1. Matt Farniok
Height, Weight: 6-5, 310
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Sioux Falls (SD) Washington High
Reported Offers: Arizona State, California, Florida, Florida State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Washington State, Wisconsin.
Rankings: Rivals (4 stars, No. 23 OT Nationally), Scout (4 stars, No. 25 OT Nationally), 247 (4 stars, No. 13 OT Nationally)
Skinny: The younger brother of former Iowa State center Tom Farniok would be a huge catch, literally and figuratively, for the Hawkeyes. The additions of Spencer Williams and Cole Banwart, who project on the inside, make tackle the top target area on the offensive front. Farniok has said in recent interviews that the Hawkeyes and Nebraska stand out to him right now because of his strong relationships with the coaches. Landing him serves the double purpose of fortifying your roster while keeping him off of a rival’s.
2. Noah Fant
Height, Weight: 6-5, 210
Position: Tight End/Defensive End
School: Omaha (NE) South High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Buffalo, California, Iowa State, Nebraska, Ohio, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Wyoming.
Rankings: Rivals (3 Stars, No. 2 overall in Nebraska, No. 39 DE nationally), 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 had the Hawkeyes in his Top 4 after visiting for the spring game in April. He planned to commit in May but has tapped the brakes on that and is letting his process play out some more. The smart money is on the home-state Huskers here but Iowa is in the race. The Iowa coaches convinced him to come to their June recruiting tailgate and are doing a good job making him consider a place other than his home-state school. That’s a tall task but he’s the No. 1 TE on the board.
3. 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 April’s spring game. 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. Swann’s positioning on the board is less about need (Iowa has five defensive linemen committed) and more about how well the Hawkeyes stand with him and his talent level.
4. Albert Okwuegbunam
Height, Weight: 6-5, 225
Position: Tight End
School: Springfield (IL) Sacred Heart Griffin
Reported Offers: Iowa, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Minnesota, Nevada, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Toledo, Western Michigan, Wyoming.
Rankings: Rivals (3 Stars, No. 15 player in Illinois), Scout (3 stars, No. 23 TE nationally), 247 (3 Stars, No. 25 tight end nationally, No. 18 overall player in Illinois).
Skinny: Okwuegbunam remains in play after visiting in April. He was 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 has been the stiffest competition among the programs who had offered until Michigan State offered in June. The Spartans have been cleaning up in Illinois and could swoop in and grab a player who Iowa really could use.
5. Kristian Welch
Height, Weight: 6-3, 215
School: Iola (WI)-Scandinavia High
Reported Offers: Bowling Green, Illinois State, North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (2 stars), 247 (3 stars, No. 3 in Wisconsin).
Skinny: The versatile Welch landed an offer at camp last month. He took most of his reps at tight end but also worked at linebacker. He reported running the 40 in 4.52 seconds. Welch is a small-town prospect flying under the radar right now but that could change. He said he’s waiting until late in his season to commit, which could also lead to more opportunities if he performs well as a senior. The Iowa coaches surely are dangling early playing time at him with opportunities at tight end.
6. Alaric Jackson
Height, Weight: 6-7, 285
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Detroit (MI) Renaissance
Reported Offers: Iowa, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue, Toledo, Wisconsin.
Rankings: Rivals (3 starts, No. 18 in Michigan, No. 58 OT nationally), Scout (3 stars, 35th OT Nationally, 8th OT in Midwest), 247 (3 stars, 34th OT Nationally, 11th regardless of position in Michigan)
Skinny: Jackson is an exceptional athlete at tackle. He favored basketball most of his young life (his mother wouldn’t let him play football because she was afraid he would get hurt) before giving football a shot for the first time last fall. Needless to say, he took to it pretty well. Jackson is intrigued by Iowa and its success at his position but he seems pretty deliberate about his recruiting process. With how much his stock has sky rocketed in less than a year, a strong senior season could result in even more options for the big man from the Motor City. He’s talked about visiting Iowa City and that’s the next step for the Hawkeyes in their pursuit of Jackson.
7. A.J. Taylor
Height, Weight: 5-11, 190
School: Kansas City (MO) Rockhurts High
Reported Offers: Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin, among others.
Rankings: Rivals (4 Stars, No. 1 overall player in Missouri), Scout (3 stars, No. 92 WR nationally), 247 (4 Stars, No. 5 overall player in Missouri).
Skinny: Opinions vary on what position Taylor will play at the next level but all agree he’s a special talent. He visited Iowa’s recruiting tailgate last month. The Hawkeyes appear willing to give Taylor a crack at running back, which could be a key to landing him. If things don’t work out and he has to go to a different position, so be it. The Hawkeyes need to keep adding athletes like Turner.
8. 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 Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, 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. Like Taylor, J.D. Spielman could end up a several different positions but he’s the type of playmaker Iowa could use more of.
9. Andrew Fitzgerald
Height, Weight: 6-5, 245
Position: Defensive End
School: Flower Mounds (TX) Marcus High
Reported Offers: Iowa, Baylor, Boise State, Cal, Kansas State, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, SMU, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia, among others.
Rankings: Rivals (3 Stars), Scout (3 Stars, No. 26 DE nationally), 247 (3 Stars, No. 75 in Texas)
Skinny: Fitzgerald is not on the big board as a player at a position of need but one too good to pass up if he wants to come. The physical defensive end visited Iowa City last month as part of a summer tour that took him through Baylor, Kansas State, North Carolina and Vanderbilt. He said good things about the Hawkeyes but is the type of positive kid that’s free with compliments for the schools that offer and host him. If Fitzgerald came to Iowa, it might seem like an overload at defensive end but remember that one or two of these guys could slide inside.
10. Jackson Terry
Height, Weight: 5-9, 188
School: Kansas City (MO) Rockhurst High
Reported Offers: None.
Rankings: Rivals (NR), Scout (NR), 247 (NR).
Skinny: Terry’s stock continues to rise with strong summer performances. He camped at Iowa and impressed to the point where he was invited back for the tailgate. With some misses in evaluating specialists of late, the Hawkeyes likely will be deliberate with offering another one in this cycle after missing on Quinn Nordin but Terry tops their list to date.