IOWA CITY, Iowa - For the first time since March of last year, football recruits and college coaches can meet face-to-face beginning on Tuesday. That's when a 15-month long dead period brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
The restrictions affected programs across the country. Iowa Football certainly was among them.
The Hawkeyes have secured two verbal commitments so far in the 2022 Class. In-state defensive end Aaron Graves pledged during June of 2019 after twice visiting unofficially. Kansas D-End Caden Crawford built a strong enough bond with the coaches virtually to commit during February without having visited campus.
By comparison, Iowa gained 16 of 19 commitments in its '21 group by June 10 of last year. During the '20 cycle, it had 10 pledges before June and 21 of 22 by mid August.
Two commitments before June 1 is the fewest for the Hawkeyes since they had that same number in '14. Two cycles before that, they had just one heading into June.
The trend before the pandemic saw Iowa enter summer with a good portion of the next class on board. That was aided by unofficial visits to campus and coaches visiting prospects at their schools.
According to Rivals, the Hawkeyes were scheduled to play host to 18 uncommitted prospects in the '22 Class during June. Only two of them visited unofficially before the pandemic dead period.
June will determine how well Iowa did in building relationships virtually. Fortunately for it, other programs find themselves in the same position.
With that in mind, here are five top targets scheduled to visit Iowa in June:
-Hunter Deyo, DT, Council Bluffs (IA) Lewis Central High - The second highest-ranked Rivals in-state recruit remaining on the board didn't get a chance to visit Iowa before the dead period. His only scheduled official visit so far is to see the Hawkeyes on June 25. He also reports scholarship offers from Iowa State, where he did visit unofficially, Arkansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Oregon and Wisconsin.
-Kaleb Johnson, RB, Hamilton (OH) High - Iowa came up short in pursuing ball carriers in the last class and eventually settled on in-state athlete Deavin Hilson, who may or may not stay at the position. The Hawkeyes need a back in the '22 cycle, and Johnson is the only one lined up to visit so far. He also has officials set up to Cal, Iowa State and Pitt.
-Xavier Nwankpa, S, Pleasant Hill (IA) Southeast Polk High- Nwankpa is the No.1-ranked player in the state, according to Rivals and the competition for his services is tough. He has scheduled official visits to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Texas A&M before an unofficial stop at Iowa on June 25. He unofficially visited the Hawkeyes three times before the pandemic hit.
Eian Pugh, WR, Oak Park (IL) Fenwick High - Pugh verbally committed to Cincinnati on Christmas Day. While he remains a "soft" Bearcat pledge, the Illinois receiver decided to check out other options. He scheduled an official visit to Iowa on June 25, and also set up official stops to Illinois and Cincinnati during the month.
-Micah Riley-Ducker, TE, Bellevue (NE) West High - After receiving his offer last summer, the four-star prospect told HN Iowa was his dream school. Hawkeye assistant LeVar Woods is a family friend. Iowa didn't take a tight end in last year's class, and Riley-Ducker is a priority. His Hawkeye official on June 25 will follow scheduled officials to Iowa State, Auburn and Illinois earlier in the month.