Xavier Nwankpa

Iowa aims on keeping the best in-state prospects within the borders. For the 2022 recruiting cycle, Xavier Nwankpa stands out as someone for whom the Hawkeyes hope to fight off poachers.

Notre Dame and Michigan have offered scholarships. So have Nebraska, Michigan State and Missouri.

Iowa State is pushing to keep him in the central part of the state. His father, Frank Nwankpa, is an alumnus of the Cyclone track program.

When the recruiting dead period ends, other programs will jump into the mix with the Pleasant Hill Southeast Polk standout. Rivals and 247 rank him as a four-star with the latter pegging him as the No. 8 safety nationally in his class.

The Hawkeyes have their work cut out for them here. And they’re doing all they can to win him over.

“Things are going great with Iowa,” Nwankpa told HN. “I talk weekly with them. They’re just checking in, seeing how I’m doing and how I’m getting better. They’re also sharing any news they hear on the reopening and the season.”

He visited campus three times last year. Any stops this spring were wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic starting during the middle of March. The dead period, which prohibits face-to-face contact between college coaches and recruits, was extended through June.

Despite no in-person contact with Iowa, Nwankpa understands what the program represents and is connecting with the people involved.

“What stands out about (the Hawkeyes) is their ability to develop players. Also, the relationships I’ve built with players and the coaches is strong,” he said.

Assistant Jay Niemann is leading Iowa’s pursuit of Nwankpa.

“I’d say coach Niemann and I have a good relationship with him calling every week. The relationship is still building, but he’s a person I enjoy talking to,” Nwankpa said.

Missouri, Kansas State, Colorado, Northwestern and the Cyclones join Iowa in being in the most consistent contract with him these days.

“I’ve talked to Iowa State the most over this quarantine,” he added.

Nwankpa (6-2, 180) is staying in shape, readying for the return of football.

“I’ve been working out three times a week with my trainer and a couple of times a week with some teammates to run some routes and play a little football,” he said.

Plenty of scouts should be flocking to Southeast Polk when football kicks off again. Jaxon Dailey, a quarterback in ’22, and ’23 offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor are prospects with Power 5 offers. The trio holds scholarship opportunities from Michigan, among others.

“It’s nice having Jaxon and Kadyn, people who can relate to what’s going on and are there to talk about things. And we’re all friends, so it’s helps strengthen our friendship and our team in general,” Nwankpa said.

As a sophomore, Nwankpa led the Rams with 52.5 tackles (43 solo). He also paced the squad with three interceptions. On offense, he rushed 35 times for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned nine punts for 178 yards.

Here’s a look at Nwankpa’s sophomore highlights: