Sports writers Chad Leistikow and Chris Cuellar break down the Hawkeye match ups in basketball and wrestling. They also take a look at possible recruiting prospects in football.
The final countdown is on for National Signing Day and Iowa’s 2017 class has a few spots left to fill.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz’s staff is still trying get some last-minute recruits to switch their commitments elsewhere, but they’ll have to work hard before binding letters of intent are sent Wednesday morning.
The NCAA recruiting calendar for FBS turns the current contact period into a quiet period on Sunday and a dead period starting Monday. Iowa currently has 15 verbal commitments in its 2017 group.
“There’s nothing specific that I think they need to get to make this class a success,” Scout.com Midwest recruiting analyst Allen Trieu said. “I think it’s already a pretty good class.”
Here is a quick to-do list for the Hawkeyes heading into the final major weekend of this recruiting cycle.
Flip a future defensive back
Depth in Iowa’s secondary was scarce by the Outback Bowl, so finding versatile athletes to play behind a returning group of linebackers has been a recruiting priority. Four are already committed: Djimon Colbert from Kansas, Camron Harrell from Illinois, Matt Hankins from Texas and Josh Turner from Florida.
Iowa would still like to add another. Georgia three-star Trey Creamer is still considered a soft Minnesota commit, but he sneakily visited Iowa City last weekend. The Hawkeyes offered him only a few days after P.J. Fleck became the new head coach in Minneapolis.
The other option appears to be Kent State commit and Pennsylvania native Geno Stone. Iowa didn’t offer the 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety until Tuesday, but stand out in a list of mid-major offers.
Snag one late skill position player
Who will it be?
The Hawkeyes pushed hard for receivers and running backs this month and would love to close out their class with a big name. Kyshaun Bryan is a South Carolina commit, but the Rivals.com site Hawkeye Report puts Iowa’s odds at flipping the 190-pound rusher at 50 percent.
Running back Davion Johnson is a Miami of Ohio commit who picked up an Iowa offer last week. The odds of picking up yet another MAC prospect dropped when Johnson reaffirmed his Miami pledge Tuesday.
Former Rutgers commits John Lovett and Ihmir Smith-Marsette both visited Iowa and remain athletic options, but plan to spend this weekend in other college towns.
Iowa City West receiver Oliver Martin would be the cherry on top of the 2017 sundae, although it seems less likely by the day.
“He’s one of the few big names left in the Big Ten region,” Trieu said.
Line up the next linebacker
All three 2016 starters are back and the last two recruiting classes included three linebackers each. This position was not a priority for 2017, yet a possible commitment is coming down to the wire.
Iowa City High athlete Nate Wieland projects there. He’s a Northern Illinois commit and finally picked up an offer Thursday morning after turning down a visit last weekend.
And according to Scout, the Hawkeyes haven’t completely given up on target Thomas Johnston out of Alabama. The productive tackler surprisingly committed to UAB on Tuesday.
“They’re still going after Thomas Johnston,” Trieu said. “It seems unlikely, but they’re not done.”