Recruiting Targets Share Feelings on Racial Allegations Against Iowa Football

June 15, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – One would be naive thinking Iowa won’t be addressing recent allegations from former players of racial bias in the program on the recruiting trail. Other schools could mention it to prospects and their parents. The Hawkeyes will be repairing their reputation.

The 2020 recruiting class is remaining together. The same can be said of the 16 student-athletes verbally pledged in the ’21 cycle. Time will tell what happens with uncommitted targets.

Pleasant Hill (IA) Southeast Polk defensive back Xavier Nwankpa is a four-star and the No. 2-ranked player in the state’s ’22 Class. The top-rated guy, Aaron Graves from Gowrie Southeast Valley, is already committed to Iowa.

Nwankpa (6-2, 180) also has reported offers from Iowa State, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska and Notre Dame. He’s visited Iowa’s campus three times since October.

“I do believe Iowa will do the best thing for the program moving forward,” he told HN.

Skyler Bell, a ’21 receiver from Connecticut, told HN last month that Iowa sat at the top of his list among prospective schools. His friend and high school teammate, Diante Vines, signed with the Hawkeyes as a member of their ’20 class.

Bell (6-1, 185) was set to officially visit Iowa this month until the recruiting dead period shut down face-to-face meetings with college coaches. He also pushed back his commitment date from May 20 because he wanted more time to consider his options.

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“I think that coach (Kirk) Ferentz definitely knows what he has to do for the program to move forward, as he has addressed. In terms of my viewing the program, it definitely is in my head because of me being a black player. I hope that the staff can get everything they need to get the program back to where it needs to be, especially in a time like this. I think they will do that,” Bell told HN.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta was asked during a Monday press conference how these allegations against the program might impact football recruiting.

“If I were a parent (of a player) coming here, my first inclination would be concern, and rightly so. I haven’t spoken to Kirk and the staff about exactly what they have done other than to know that they followed up with all the families. My guess is that they are convinced or are going to wait and see,” he said.

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“But certainly, anytime your program goes through a negative situation and challenging situation, it can potentially impact recruiting.”

Isaac Thompson (6-2, 190) picked up an Iowa scholarship offer last month and told HN he was excited about it. He’s visited campus on a couple of occasions.

The 247 network four-star lists scholarship offers from Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Iowa State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Penn State, Texas, USC and others.

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Thompson has been following the allegations against Iowa as he navigates through his recruiting process.

“When I saw all the racial issues that came out against Iowa football, I was so shocked. I’ve been up there twice now and really loved Iowa and the city. When I saw all of these allegations about the program, it really rubbed me the wrong way,” Thompson told HN.

“It was hard for me to believe that my family and I liked it so much and it was going to be one of my top schools. To know that if I would’ve ended up going there, I could’ve been involved in all the racial stuff is tough for me. Coach (Levar) Woods and coach (Phil) Parker are great people and coaches, and I still have a good relationship with coach Woods, but I would be lying if I said I was still considering the University of Iowa.”

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