It’s time to take a little break from basketball and wrestling as the Hawkeye football team signed 19 players last week. They plan to add a junior college defensive end this summer.
I always enjoy checking out the new recruits, whether it’s football, basketball or wrestling… the three sports I cover.
I always wonder who will be the next Shonn Greene, the next Aaron White or the next Bethany Doolittle.
All three we not highly recruited.
It also gives me a chance to talk to Reese Morgan, who is in his second year of coaching the defensive line.
Five in-state players will join Iowa next season, six if you count Ross Reynolds (6-3, 290), an offensive lineman from Waukee, who will be a gray shirt unless a scholarship opens up before fall.
A gray shirt can enroll next fall but not practice with the team until the second semester.
“For 15 years our recruiting of in-state players is so critical to us,” said head coach Kirk Ferentz. “We didn’t get everything we wanted from inside but football in this state is outstanding.”
You start with two solid offensive lineman, Keegan Render (6-4, 315) and Lucas LeGrand (6-5, 260).
Keegan is from Indianola and was named to the Elite All-State first team as a junior and senior. He was a team captain his senior year and also lettered in track, basketball and played baseball.
Lucas, who is from Dubuque, was also first team all-state, was a three-year letterman in track and basketball and one year in baseball.
“Lucas will probably be a tackle,” said Morgan, “I think Keegan will probably be an inside guy, probably a guard. Two good, solid kids from the state of Iowa. Lucas is very athletic. He’s a starter on Dubuque’s number-one ranked basketball team. He’s kind of a grinder inside. Both are multi-sport athletes and really good students.”
One of the highlights of this year’s class is quarterback Tyler Wiegers (6-4, 215) from Lake Orion, Mich.
Tyler originally committed to Rutgers, changed his mind last fall, and will be a Hawkeye.
“Iowa ended up being a better fit for me,” said Tyler.
Tyler was an all-state quarterback at Michigan, a three-year starter, two-year captain and also played baseball. He completed over 62 percent of his passes his last two seasons.
“He’s a guy Greg Davis really liked a lot,” said coach Morgan. “He fits what we want to do.”
Jay Scheel (6-1, 170) is also a top recruit from Union High School.
I always like to hear a recruit say he grew up “a Hawkeye fan” and is living out his dream.
Jay was a two-year all-state quarterback, but will play receiver in college.
“He’s an athlete that can do a lot of things,” said Morgan. “He’s a special guy and an excellent student as well.”
The Hawkeyes signed two running backs, C.J. Hilliard (5-11, 185) and Markel Smith (5-10, 210).
C.J., from Cincinnati, Ohio, is a four-year letter winner in football as a running back and defensive back. He was also a captain, played baseball and ran track.
Markel, a St. Louis native, was previously committed to Missouri but decided Iowa was a better fit. He has the size, speed and power to remind Hawkeye fans of Shonn Greene.
Iowa signed junior college punter Dillon Kidd (6-2, 230) who will compete with Connor Kornbrath this spring, as he is already enrolled.
The Hawkeyes also signed place kicker Mick Ellis (5-10, 182).
Mick is from Texas and will challenge former Solon prep Marshall Koehn for kickoffs, field goals and extra points.
Marshall was first team all state as a senior for the Spartans.
On the defensive side, Iowa signed two defensive ends, four linebackers and five defensive backs.
Terrence Harris (6-3, 250) is from New Jersey and was all state his senior year.
“Terrence is kind of what we need,” said Morgan. “That pass rush guy. He’s got that quick twitch, his tape is good and he’s an explosive guy.”
Another big catch for the Hawkeyes is defensive end Matt Nelson, and I mean that literally and figuratively.
The 6-8, 255-pound Cedar Rapids prep was named to the Elite All State First Team as a senior and chose Iowa over Stanford and Notre Dame.
“Matt is a 4.0 student and he really impressed us when he came to camp,” said coach Morgan. “He’s going to be a really good player for us.”
The four linebackers include Parker Hesse (6-4, 215), Ben Niemann (6-3, 205), Aaron Mends (6-0, 200) and Jameer Outsey (6-3, 220).
Parker is a four-sport athlete from Waukon.
In football, Parker player quarterback, wide receiver, defensive end and he also punted.
Parker was a four-year letterman in basketball, baseball and track.
“He’s a great all-around athlete,” said Morgan. “He’s got a great future because he’s raw, he’s very athletic, he’s extremely competitive and a tough kid.”
Aaron Mends is from Kansas City, Mo., and was named first-team all-state as a senior. He played linebacker and running back in high school, scoring 29 touchdowns.
Jameer Outsey is from New Jersey and was a three-year starter at defensive end.
“He can run,” said coach Morgan. “He’s got a really good burst.”
Ben Neimann made first-team all-state playing in Illinois. He played strong safety, wide receiver and was a two-year letterman in basketball.
Five defensive backs include Marcel Joly (5-11, 180), Josh Jackson (6-1, 175), Miles Taylor (6-0, 175), Jalen Embry (5-11,176) and Omar Truitt (5-11, 185).
“They are going to be coming in and helping us right away,” said coach Morgan. “Phil Parker (defensive coordinator) felt good about all of those guys. We probably could have used a couple more linemen, but we needed to get the best guys available and that’s what we did.”
All of them are three-star athletes and look for at least two of them, along with a couple of linebackers, to play next year on special teams.
Some local walk-ons include Solon Spartan Dalton Ferguson (6-4, 315).
Dalton is projected as an offensive lineman and Solon head coach Kevin Miller said Dalton not only has great size but great athletic ability.
Another solid class for the Hawkeyes and if they stay healthy and stay in school, could be a good class in two or three years.