Arizona 3-star RB Eli Sanders commits to Iowa State over Iowa

Matthew Bain
Des Moines Register

It may not be an in-state recruiting clash, but Iowa State has defeated Iowa in a crucial, head-to-head battle for a fast-rising prospect out of Arizona.

Eli Sanders, a three-star talent who was originally committed to Boise State, announced his commitment to the Cyclones on Sunday, following unofficial visits he and his family took to Iowa State and Iowa on Saturday.

Sanders had narrowed his choices down to the Cyclones and Hawkeyes after reopening his recruitment in late December.

Oct 9, 2020; Chandler, Arizona, USA; Chandler Wolves running back Eli Sanders (6) runs for a touchdown against Pinnacle Pioneers cornerback Dante Haynesworth (12) at Chandler High School. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

Due to the recruiting dead period caused by COVID-19, Sanders and his family could not take any official, school-sponsored recruiting visits, and they couldn't have any face-to-face contact with Matt Campbell, Kirk Ferentz or any of the coaches recruiting him.

So, they did the best they could.

And current Cyclone and Hawkeye signees did the best they could to help.

Dodge Sauser, an Iowa State offensive lineman signee out of Grinnell, accompanied Sanders while he toured Iowa State and Ames. Arland Bruce IV, an Iowa receiver signee out of Ankeny, hung out with Sanders while he was in central Iowa.

"Definitely a guy we've got to have," Sauser told the Register before Sanders' visits.

Sanders is a consensus three-star prospect. The 6-foot, 190-pound prospect is the No. 656 prospect in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite.

With Sanders, Iowa State now has 19 recruits in the 2021 class. Sanders was seen as one of the last, if not the last, high school target for the Cyclones in 2021.

Iowa, meanwhile, is still looking to land its first running back in the 2021 class. In the days leading up to Sanders' decision, the Hawkeyes doled out running back offers to Alabama three-star prospect Jaylin Whilte, Mississippi three-star prospect Jarquez Hunter and three-star Louisiana recruit Kendrell Williams.

Iowa is still heavily recruiting Florida three-star offensive lineman Michael Myslinski.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network.  Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.