IOWA CITY, Iowa – With Monday’s national championship game behind us, another important portion of the college football year takes center stage. Programs jockey for position with recruits as the Feb. 1 national signing day approaches. Schools come out of a month-long dead period on Wednesday.
Iowa hits the homestretch with 14 verbal commitments in its 2017 recruiting class. The group is expected to end up with about 20-22 members, head coach Kirk Ferentz said Monday.
Here’s a look at some of the top targets with thoughts on where the Hawkeyes stand:
–Oliver Martin, WR, Iowa City West High – Iowa would like to land at least one more receiver in this class and the local kid sits atop the board. Martin already has officially visited the Hawkeyes and Notre Dame, two of his favorites. He’s set to officially visit Michigan State this weekend. The Spartans landed West Des Moines Valley High quarterback Rocky Lombardi, a long-time friend of Martin. It’s hard to get a read on the quiet Martin, who said at last week’s Army All-American game that he might take another visit after MSU. This recruitment could take awhile. Be patient, Hawkeye fans.
PREDICTION: As I said, it’s hard to gauge what Martin is thinking. I haven’t been able to interview him since September, so take this prognostication for what it’s worth – IOWA.
–Thomas Johnston, MLB, Spanish Fort (AL) High – The state of Alabama’s all-time leading tackler officially visited Iowa in early December. He came away impressed. Johnston also officially visited Arkansas and was scheduled to do the same at Auburn this coming weekend. He may take more. Ole Miss, Arizona State, LSU and Michigan State are among the others in pursuit.
PREDICTION: It looks like this will come down to Arkansas, Auburn and Iowa. While Arkansas led early, it seems like a dead heat at this point. Maybe I have my Black and Gold glasses on – IOWA.
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–Kurt Rafdal, TE, Carmel (IN) High – The 6-foot-7, 230-pounder picked up an Iowa offer in late December. He then de-committed from Indiana on Jan. 4. Rafdal has held a Nebraska offer for almost a year, and it appears that the Huskers and Iowa are the top schools for him right now. Rafdal is scheduled to officially visit Lincoln this weekend and has said he’d also like to do the same at Iowa.
PREDICTION: While I think the interest in Iowa is sincere, Rafdal has built a relationship with Nebraska over time – Nebraska.
–Johnathan Lovett, RB, Marlton (NJ) Cherokee High – Iowa jumped in with an offer for the former Rutgers commit late in November and he officially visited for the Michigan game shortly after that. He’s since picked up offers from Michigan State, Tennessee, Central Florida and Baylor. He said in this recent item from NJ.com that if he had to choose today, he would pick the Hawkeyes. We’ll see if they can maintain the lead with players still out in the course.
PREDICTION: Rutgers seemed to still be well positioned but they just hired a new running backs coach. Iowa changed offensive coordinators. He visits MSU, Tennessee and Baylor during the next three weeks – Rutgers.
–Trey Creamer, CB, Cartersville (GA) High: Creamer announced Monday that he picked up an Iowa offer. He verbally committed to the former staff at Minnesota in early October. He’d reported scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Wake Forest and West Virginia, among others, at that time.
PREDICTION: Hard to say how this one will end up but Creamer tweeting that he picked up an Iowa offer after the coaching change in Minneapolis indicates he might be open to others – MINNESOTA.
I fully expect there will be more offers handed out here in the next week and beyond. The coaches hit the road Thursday, so we should start hearing new names.
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Here’s a look at some other items pertaining to Hawkeye recruiting:
-Iowa City High athlete Nate Wieland, a Northern Illinois verbal, told us in late November that he felt close to an Iowa offer based on what he was hearing from assistant Reese Morgan. He’s now scheduled to officially visit the Hawkeyes the weekend of January the 20th. Assistant Reese Morgan will visit him on Friday. I expect an offer to come and for him to flip to the hometown program. He projects as a safety or outside linebacker here.
-I’ve been asked frequently on social media of late about the status of Texas receiver Beau Corrales with Iowa. His friend, Lone Star State quarterback Peyton Mansell, an Hawkeye pledge, has been tweeting about them teaming up in college. Corrales de-committed from Iowa in November. I think the ship has sailed here. There’s hasn’t been contact between the two parties since Corrales’ de-commitment and I believe that both parties have moved on. Could that change? Sure. But I don’t see it.
-It’s been a strange relationship with Iowa and Florida cornerback Zamari Maxwell. He officially visited in September and it seemed like the Hawkeyes sat firmly in the lead for his services. Then, things appeared to cool off. It heated back up again in December when defensive coordinator/secondary coach Phil Parker conducted an in-home visit with him. Maxwell told me Tuesday that he believes the relationship with Iowa has dissolved. He said he has official visits set up to Iowa State, Illinois and Kent State.
–QUICK-HITTERS: Iowa really liked Bellevue (NE) West High RB Jaylin Bradley and was hoping he would qualify academically. He did last week. The Huskers offered and he decided to stay home…Iowa continues to add quality walk-ons. Wimette (IL) Loyola Academy quarterback Tommy Herion (6-1, 185) announced on Monday that he would be joining the Hawkeyes. During the holidays, former Newton (IA) High and Iowa Western Community College receiver Nick Easley accepted a walk-on opportunity…If we’re looking at possibilities for late in-state offers, keep an eye on Denver offensive lineman Mason Niesen, a Northern Iowa commitment, and Dylan Boles, a defensive lineman from Van Meter, who will be visiting Yale this weekend. Hawkeye Report’s Blair Sanderson reported that New Jersey athlete Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who committed to Rutgers last month, will be officially visiting on Jan. 20. Smith-Marsette (6-1, 160) hails from Newark Weequahic High, the same school that produced current running back Akrum Wadley. Iowa, which has yet to offer a scholarship, is recruiting him at receiver.