IOWA CITY, Iowa – The city of Detroit doesn’t get credit for much of anything these days.
Once known as the “Paris of the West” and home to America’s thriving auto industry, Detroit now has the dubious distinction of being the largest American city to file for bankruptcy.
The city is filled with broken-down homes and broken dreams, but also with people determined to make something out of their lives.
The Iowa football program landed four such people on Wednesday in offensive lineman Alaric Jackson, defensive ends Cedrick Lattimore and Chauncey Golston and defensive back Cedric Boswell.
All four live in or near Detroit and are close friends. Lattimore and Golston also attend the same high school in Detroit and had been committed to Iowa since May, whereas Jackson announced his decision on Wednesday, which is national signing day. Boswell was among 16 players who committed to Iowa in June.
Jackson reportedly turned down a scholarship offer from Michigan, while Lattimore said thanks, but no thanks to a Michigan State offer.
The four Detroit natives were among 24 players who signed letters of intent with Iowa on Wednesday.
The only recruit who didn’t sign with Iowa as expected is New Jersey receiver Frank Darby, who according to Hawkeye Report.com, still is waiting to take his freshman entrance exam.
All four of the Detroit-area recruits are intriguing prospects.
The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Jackson didn’t start playing football on a regular basis until only about two years ago. He first made a name for himself as a basketball player.
Lattimore and Golston both are listed at 6-5, but have different builds with Lattimore weighing 260 pounds and Golston tipping the scale at 227 pounds. Lattimore probably has the size to play inside, while Golston is more of rangy defensive end.
Boswell is the smallest of the four at 5-11 and 175 pounds. He played running back and defensive back in high school and holds the school record for rushing yards in a game at 334.
Jackson’s talent as a basketball player should help him in the trenches where lateral movement is crucial to an offensive lineman’s success.
“He’s a kid who hadn’t played football until his junior season,” said Allen Trieu, Midwest Recruiting Manager for Scout.com and a Michigan resident. “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.”
Jackson’s adjustment to college should be made easier by having three fellow Detroit natives in the same recruiting class. They they share a bond and can relate better to each other.
The fact that Iowa has four Detroit natives in its 2016 recruiting class shouldn’t really be a surprise because Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has made recruiting in the Motor City a priority.
It hasn’t always paid dividends, but the good still outweighs the bad, thanks to success stories like Desmond King and Carl Davis.
They both grew up in Detroit and then flourished at Iowa. King still is flourishing at Iowa where he will be a senior cornerback/return specialist next season, as well as the reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner.
Davis just finished his rookie season as a defensive lineman with the Baltimore Ravens. He developed into a force at Iowa, earning second-team all-Big Ten accolades as a junior and senior.
His success, along with King’s rise to stardom this past season, had to make an impression on the four recruits from Detroit. The thinking being; if they can be successful at Iowa, then so can we.
King’s success probably had a huge impact on Lattimore and Golston, considering they both attend the same high school in Detroit from which King graduated.
"I don’t think there is any question about that, two of the young men from his high school," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday when asked about King’s influence on the four Detroit recruits. "Desmond has done a wonderful job certainly playing for us and representing the program. He has really grown as a young man and he really is respected in that (high) school."
Detroit isn’t what it used to be as a city, but its residents still cling to the American dream of being successful with hard work and perseverance.
Jackson, Lattimore, Golston and Boswell all took a significant step to achieving that dream on Wednesday.