By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team’s 2022 recruiting class started to form almost 2 1/2 years ago.
The exact day was June 25, 2019.
That’s when Aaron Graves committed to Iowa barely a month removed from his freshman year of high school. At the age of 16, he became the youngest Iowa commit under Kirk Ferentz.
Not much was known about Graves when he committed to Iowa, but now the Gowrie native is ranked by Rivals as a four-star defensive end and is considered one of the gems in Iowa’s 2022 recruiting class.
Graves will finally make his verbal commitment official when he signs his national letter of intent on Wednesday, which marks the first of two signing days in football, with the other taking place on the first Wednesday in February.
Graves is among at least 12 players that are expected to sign with Iowa on Wednesday, although, several recruits still have Iowa amongst their final schools, including California three-star cornerback T.J. Hall, Michigan cornerback Olando Trader and and three-star defensive end Keyron Crawford, so the number could grow.
Trader is currently committed to Central Michigan.
The class has one five-star recruit, Southeast Polk defensive back Xavier Nwankpa, who is also the most recent player to join the class.
Nwankpa ended a hotly contested recruiting battle when he picked Iowa over Ohio State and Notre Dame two Mondays ago. He then announced his commitment during a press conference last Thursday that drew more than 200 family, friends and media members.
“So what went into my decision was the coaching staff and the stability there, the guys on the team and the commits,” Nwankpa said. “It’s like a brotherhood there and a place where I can see myself succeed.”
Nwankpa is widely regarded as the top safety prospect in the 2022 senior class. He capped his spectacular high school career in November by leading Southeast Polk to its first state title.
He plans to enroll at Iowa in January, and that should make his transition to college even easier.
Iowa’s class is currently ranked 43rd nationally by Rivals.
Every recruit in the class except for Graves committed to Iowa in 2021.
That was largely due to the global pandemic that sort of put the recruiting process on hold with no in-person interviews or campus visits during most of the 2020 calendar year, and for parts of 2021.
Graves is the only player in the class who committed before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will hold a zoom conference at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the class.
NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking publicly about a specific recruit before the recruit has signed a national letter of intent.
Iowa 2022 recruiting class
Xavier Nwankpa, DB, Pleasant Hill, Iowa, 6-2, 190: He is ranked as the No. 1 safety in the 2022 senior class by Rivals and 21st overall in the class. He has at least 31 scholarship offers and is one of the most decorated recruits to pick Iowa under Kirk Ferentz.
Kaleb Johnson, RB, Hamilton, Ohio, 6-1, 210: He picked Iowa over scholarship offers from Iowa State, Cincinnati and California, to whom he previously was committed. He committed to Cal in June before switching to Iowa in October. He is one of three four-star recruits in the class.
His 5.8 rating by Rivals is the second highest in the class behind Nwankpa’s 6.1 rating.
Cael Vanderbush, TE, Plainfield, Indiana, 6-6, 200: He is ranked as a three-star recruit and was previously committed to Western Michigan. He is the latest in a long line of recruits that signed with Iowa after having been committed to a school in the Mid-American Conference.
Jaziun Patterson, RB, Deerfield Beach, Florida, 5-10, 182: He probably has the second most impressive list of scholarship offers in the class behind Nwankpa.
The schools that have offered Patterson include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State and Texas A&M among about two dozen others.
Patterson is the 26th-best running back in the 2022 class, according to Rivals.
Jacob Bostick, WR, Palentine, Illinois, 6-2, 165: He has at least 21 scholarship offers, including one from playoff bound Cincinnati. He took official visits to Cincinnati, Louisville and Illinois before picking Iowa. He is ranked by Rivals as the 76th best wide receiver in the 2022 class.
Carson May, QB, Jones, Oklahoma, 6-5, 220: Ranked by Rivals as the 15th best pro-style quarterback in the 2022 class, May is sort of late bloomer. He climbed to a four-star recruit after committing to Iowa, but his only other reported scholarship offers are from Old Dominion and Western Michigan.
Kirk Ferentz hasn’t recruited many players from the state of Oklahoma, but his staff has a knack for finding hidden gems, and they obviously like what they see in May to have been his only Power 5 offer.
The addition of May will help to offset the loss of redshirt freshman quarterback Deuce Hogan, who has entered the transfer portal.
Kale Krogh, OL, Huxley, Iowa, 6-6, 267: Ranked by Rivals as the best fifth instate recruit in the 2022 class, he appears destined to play tackle for Iowa.
He had at least 14 scholarship offers, including two Power 5 offers from Iowa and Minnesota.
Jayden Montgomery, LB, Suamico, Wisconsin, 5-11, 215: He is the son of former Iowa defensive lineman and current Green Bay Packers defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.
Iowa is his only Power 5 scholarship offer and the concern with Montgomery is a lack of size. But he compensates with speed and aggression, and he fits the Iowa chip-on-the-shoulder mentality under Kirk Ferentz in many ways.
Addison Ostrenga, TE, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, 6-4, 220: The fact that he previously was committed to the Iowa baseball team as an outfielder before accepting Iowa’s scholarship offer as a tight end in football speaks volumes about his athletic ability.
Jack Dotzler, OL, Waunakee, Wisconsin, 6-7, 265: He has an impressive offer list that includes Iowa, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Iowa State and Arizona State.
The one noticeable absence, however, is the home-state Badgers.
Dotzler has the frame to weigh well over 300 pounds, and he seems best suited to play offensive tackle.
Caden Crawford, DE, Lansing, Kansas, 6-5, 250: He only reports to have five scholarship offers, but it’s an impressive short list with Iowa, Kansas State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Oklahoma State all having offered. He committed to Iowa this past June 25, and exactly two years after Graves had committed.
Aaron Graves, DE, Gowrie, Iowa, 6-5, 270: Iowa is his only scholarship offer according to Rivals, but that is due to having committed at such a young age. Graves is now ranked as the 132nd best recruit in the 2022 senior class an 11th best nationally at his position.
Rivals also ranks him the second best instate recruit behind Nwankpa.
Five-star: Xavier Nwankpa
Four-star: Aaron Graves, Kaleb Johnson, Carson May
Three-star: Cael Vanderbush, Jaziun Patterson, Addison Ostrenga, Jacob Bostick, Cale Krogh, Jack Dotzler, Caden Crawford
Two-star: Jayden Montgomery