IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team’s 2016 recruiting class has sort of been an afterthought, mostly because it was formed so quickly.
All but one of the 24 players in the class were committed by late August, including 16 who picked the Hawkeyes in June. The only exception is Cedar Rapids Kennedy tight end Shaun Beyer, who committed to Iowa on Nov. 25, shortly after being offered a scholarship.
There are no 5-star prospects in the class, nor are there any consensus 4-star recruits among the two dozen players.
In many ways, it’s a typical recruiting class under veteran coach Kirk Ferentz, with exception to how quickly it was formed.
And maybe one other thing.
“I would say it’s an athletic class, which is different,” said Josh Helmholdt, who works as a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “You have athletes out there. You’re not getting big lumbering players. You need some of those guys. Don’t get me wrong. But this is an athletic class that has guys that can play in space, guys that will be able to handle the speed and athleticism of other conferences when they’re out playing in bowl games, but also in their own conference as more teams in the Big Ten turn up the heat.
“So do I look at it and see speed? Not necessarily. I look at it and see athleticism. And that’s different than what I’ve seen in past Iowa classes.”
Iowa’s 2016 recruiting class currently consists of 24 high school seniors from nine different states and the District of Columbia.
However, tight end Noah Fant appears to be wavering as Rivals.com reported on Thursday that the Omaha, Neb., native still is considering Minnesota and Nebraska. Fant is scheduled to visit Iowa this weekend, but his situation appears fluid.
One or two more players likely will be added to the class before the national signing period starts on Feb. 3.
Offensive linemen Matt Farniok and Alaric Jackson both are expected to visit Iowa this weekend, while running back Sam Brodner, who previously was committed to Vanderbilt, has scheduled a visit to Wisconsin for this weekend and will visit either Iowa or Illinois next weekend.
“I don’t think there is one guy that makes me think, that’s the guy,” Helmholdt said of Iowa’s 2016 class. “I think there are a group of guys who are going to form a good base for future Iowa football teams.”
Stationed in Grand Rapids, Mich., Helmholdt pays closer attention to the recruits in the Midwest. He is very familiar with Detroit defensive ends Cedrick Lattimore and Chauncey Golston, both of whom committed to Iowa on the same day in May and attend the same high school.
Helmholdt mentioned Lattimore and Golston, along with Indiana running back Toks Akrinbade, Illinois two-way star Emmanual Rugamba and Fant when asked who stands out to him in the class.
“Toks Akrinibade out of Indiana is a guy that is versatile, has exceptional speed and a great athlete,” Helmholdt said. “I think he is part of that group. Noah Fant out of Omaha, a guy that Nebraska wanted and they pulled him from their backyard, is another guy that provides versatility. I like that about him.
“Emmanuel Rugamba from up in Chicago, obviously, Iowa has the ability to recruit Chicago well and it’s a tough area to recruit. They more they can get a foothold there, that’s going to be important.”
Wisconsin is also a tough area to recruit due to presence of the Wisconsin Badgers, but that didn’t stop the Iowa coaches from getting an early commitment from quarterback Nathan Stanley. The Menomonie, Wis., native was the second player to join Iowa’s 2016 class, committing on Nov. 10, 2014.
Stanley also reportedly has a scholarship offer from Wisconsin, but has stayed committed to Iowa for over a year. His offer from Wisconsin came after Paul Chryst was hired as head coach on Dec. 18, 2014. Chryst already had offered Stanley a scholarship in his previous job as the head coach at Pittsburgh.
By the time Chryst was hired at Wisconsin, Stanley had been committed to Iowa for over a month.
“I really like Nate Stanley,” said Allen Trieu, Midwest Recruiting Manager for Scout.com. “I think he’s been maybe under-rated nationally just because there is not a lot of footage available on him. But the kid is a talent.
“He’s also an excellent baseball player. He’s got the arm to make all the throws. The coaches up there just rave about him. We sent somebody to one of his games this year and I was blown away in that game. He played defensive back, too, and showed a lot of toughness on defense.”
Trieu said the 6-foot-4, 193-pound Stanley is like no other quarterback recruit in the Big Ten in one regard.
“I don’t think there is another Big Ten quarterback commit that plays defense and came up and hit guys the way he did,” Trieu said. “So I think is he not only a great athlete with a good arm, he’s a tough kid with a lot of intangibles as well.”
This weekend is big from a recruiting standpoint because it’s the next to last weekend before the start of the national signing period.
Iowa’s class is currently ranked sixth in the Big Ten and 32nd nationally by Scout. Rivals also ranks Iowa’s class sixth in the Big Ten and 36th overall.
Farniok and Jackson are two offensive linemen that Iowa has coveted for a while. Farniok has trimmed his list to Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan State, while Jackson’s recruitment is just starting to gain momentum.
“He’s a kid who hadn’t played football until his junior season,” Trieu said of the 6-7, 285-pound Jackson. “He was a basketball player and still is a basketball player. His playing AAU (basketball) kept him from going to a lot of football camps. But once he started to pick up some offers, it went quickly for him because you don’t find too many kids his size and athletic enough to play the post in basketball.”
Trieu is impressed with how quickly Jackson has adjusted to the game of football.
“He really picked up the game quickly and showed some of the things you worry about a basketball player coming over to football,” Trieu said. “I mean he showed a mean streak. He’s a tough kid.
“I think, academically, he’s very solid. So I think all of that put together he’s a kid with a high upside that’s maybe a little bit more of a project than some of the offensive linemen.”