Let's get right to the mailbag this week.
Trayce Jackson-Davis eliminated Iowa from his list, so does that conclude Fran's recruitment of the 2019 class? — @ArbyNiar
In case you missed it: Indiana five-star forward and former Iowa target Trayce Jackson-Davis trimmed his list to three schools — Indiana, Michigan State and UCLA — last week. The Hoosiers and Spartans have seemed to be the clear top contenders for a while now, with the Bruins hanging around.
No, this doesn't mean Fran McCaffery is done recruiting the 2019 class.
The Hawkeyes are treating their third 2019 scholarship with a wait-and-see approach. Incoming freshmen, junior college transfers, four-year college transfers ... or nobody. It's all fair game. But they'll let the situation play out.
I'd say chances are the Hawkeyes hold onto the scholarship at least through this upcoming season, though. At that point, they'll get a better idea of what their 2019 roster will look like, and they'll obviously have a better sense of the transfer market.
There's always the option that Iowa pockets the scholarship for 2020, too.
Iowa's current 2019 class is four-star Patrick McCaffery and three-star New York point guard Joe Toussaint.
With TJD eliminating Iowa from his top 3, what should fan reasonably expect going forward with respect to top 25 prospects? — @TrekkingWombat
Relationships are vital in recruiting. So is environment, a sense of family and home, atmosphere. Yes, academics can also be a factor.
But, especially with elite top-25 guys, the ability to win is paramount.
Tyler Cook, Iowa's second-highest-rated recruit in the 247Sports database, picked Iowa after its 22-12 season that saw them win a game in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
It's simple: The Hawkeyes can't afford more seasons like 2016-17 and 2017-18 if they're going to have any chance with top-25 prospects. Or top-50 guys, for that matter. The exception would be an in-state kid like Joe Wieskamp, who seemed fairly destined for Iowa.
Iowa's 4-14 season in the Big Ten was especially painful because coaches had done great work to develop strong, early relationships with elite 2019 talent.
They were fighting an uphill battle against those prospects' other suitors who could boast better recent history and whose message of a bright future was probably easier to sell. Maybe Jackson-Davis has Iowa in his top three right now with a better 2017. Maybe Malik Hall or Keion Brooks take more serious looks at Iowa City.
All the coaching staff can do is move forward, and a successful 2018 will go a long way in seeing those early relationships with 2020's top talent pay off.
But I'll also add this: Iowa hasn't landed top-25 guys in recent history. Its highest-rated recruit in the 247Sports database (which dates back to 2000) is Tyler Smith, the 2006 small forward who transferred to Tennessee. 247Sports had him 40th in the country.
If the Hawkeyes get a top-25 player, good on them. But that isn't the norm. You'd probably have to go back to Joey Range, Ricky Davis and Luke Recker to find those sorts of prospects on an Iowa roster.
But something isn't drastically amiss if top-25 prospects aren't picking Iowa.
Now, can and should those expectations eventually change? That can only happen with consistent, impressive success.
With DT depth likely in place for next year already, any impact juco or freshman DE they are likely to land with loss of Hesse and maybe A Nelson? — @clabarre
Iowa has offers out to three undecided 2019 defensive ends: Illinois three-star Keith Randolph, Georgia three-star Tomari Fox and Iowa Western three-star Malcolm Lee.
It's mainly a battle among Iowa, North Carolina and Georgia Tech for Fox. A few weeks ago, he told me he'd "either commit very soon or near December." He took an official visit to Iowa in June. Most recently, he unofficially visited Georgia Tech in September.
The Hawkeyes just offered Randolph in late September. He had announced a final three of Wyoming, Illinois and Purdue this summer, but new offers from Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State and Virginia have made him reconsider.
Lee is a December graduate at Iowa Western and told me he's considering Iowa, Texas, Houston, Central Florida and Kansas State. Iowa offered during an unofficial visit in June. A top-20 junior college prospect, Lee wants to take as many official visits as possible in November.
I talked to Lee for a while about his recruitment, including in-depth sections on each of his top schools. You can read all that here.
Here's part of what he said about Iowa: "It’s been an extremely consistent and disciplined program. That kind of structure, I feel like, could not only set up my football career in my future, but just develop me as a human being and as a man."
Also, this was interesting from Lee: "I have some ideas in mind (about) where I’ll probably end up, but I just want to be 100 percent sure that I’m making the correct choice here."
Sounds like a school, or perhaps a couple schools, has or have a leg up.
In 2020 ... which 5-star TE(s) does Iowa have a realistic chance of landing? — @TrekkingWombat
If its offense continues to utilize tight ends this way and produce NFL players at that position, yes, Iowa will have great shots with top tight end prospects for a long time.
At this point, the Hawkeyes have only one offer out to a 2020 tight end: Dallas product Elijah Yelverton, who is the 247Sports Composite's No. 9 tight end in the class.
The next highest-rated prospects in Iowa's traditional recruiting area come in an Ohio trio ranked 18th, 19th and 20th.
At No. 18 is Sam Daugstrup out of St. Ignatius in Cleveland. He holds offers from Pittsburgh, Toledo and Vanderbilt. At No. 19 is Clay Caudill out of Mansfield. Michigan State, West Virginia and Wisconsin are among those that have offered. And at No. 20 is Luke Lachey out of Columbus. The son of former NFL offensive lineman Jim Lachey has offers from Iowa State, Kentucky and Cincinnati, among others.
If Iowa offered any of these three, it's not outlandish to say it'd be an instant factor.
The Hawkeyes are slated to lose four tight ends between now and 2020 and they're adding two (Logan Lee and Josiah Miamen) in 2019. On paper, it would make sense to add a couple more in 2020.
Part of (Kirk Ferentz's) "new Kirk" attitude is getting a turnover prop like every other school. What should he choose? — @davidscrivner
Even for your standards, this is a good one, David.
There are a couple options here. One is an ear of corn (because Iowa) that the defender can hold in the air like the heart of his enemy after forcing a turnover.
The second option is actually what popped into my head first: a block of wood. Can you think of a prop any less in-your-face? I just can't think of anything more Kirk Ferentz-ish than his players celebrating over something void of any gold or bling or flash.
Just a sturdy block of wood.
Like the Iowa defense.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.