Iowa makes statement by landing Nebraska prep star

Chad Leistikow

Nebraskan Noah Fant became Iowa’s 23rd – and instantly one of its most celebrated – Class of 2016 football recruits when he announced his college decision Friday morning during a radio show in his native Omaha.

The Omaha South High School senior stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 210 pounds and projects as a tight end at the Division I level.

This is a big catch on many levels. His other finalists were Nebraska, UCLA, Vanderbilt and California. The recruiting site rates Fant the No. 1 prospect in Nebraska; says he’s No. 2 in the Cornhuskers’ home state. And publisher Tom Kakert classified Fant and Indiana athlete Toks Akinribade as perhaps the top two members of Iowa’s nearly-full class.

“You’re able to get one of the top prospects out of that state who had a Nebraska offer,” Kakert said. “That says something about recruiting right now.”

Fant also stars at defensive end, but he figures to play offense at Iowa. He is a terrific student and wants to study sports medicine with an eye on becoming an orthopedic surgeon. That, plus playing within driving distance of home and at one of Iowa’s most iconic positions, made Iowa City the best fit.

He told AM 1620 The Zone on Friday that he liked “the way (the Hawkeyes) pump out tight ends” to the NFL, adding that he’ll aim to gain 20 to 30 pounds his freshman year. That would put him in the range of a 6-5, 240 tight end – a similar build as former Hawkeye star Tony Moeaki.

“As a tight end, with my speed and I have that weight on me, too, I feel that’s what’ll make me exceptional at that position,” Fant said. “I feel like that’s where I’m going to flourish the most.”

Iowa still hasn’t landed a four-star recruit in this class. Fant gets three stars from Rivals, but he comes with one of the best offer lists of any Hawkeye verbal commitment. With Fant in the books, Iowa’s 23 recruits are tied for second-most nationally with Michigan behind only Texas Tech (25). Rivals ranks Iowa’s class No. 24 overall.

Chariton’s T.J. Hockenson (6-5, 230) is the only other tight end committed to the Hawkeyes for 2016.  Iowa is expected to sign around 25 players in this class. Kakert said the mission now for Iowa is “be selective, aim high.”

Among Iowa’s top targets are South Dakota offensive tackle Matt Farniok, Indiana defensive tackle Jovan Swann and Florida safety K.J. Sails.

Of course, as recruiting coordinator Seth Wallace has pointed out, there’s a lot of work for Iowa’s football staff to retain their commitments until signing day Feb. 3.

Fant was asked Friday what he’ll do if he gets new offers during his senior season.

“I’m not planning on de-committing,” he said, “but I would take them under consideration.”


Toks Akinribade, ATH, 6-0, 205 (Brownsburg, Ind.)

Cole Banwart, OL, 6-4, 275 (Algona, Iowa)

Lance Billings, DB, 5-11, 161 (Lorain, Ohio)

Cedric Boswell, DB, 5-11, 172 (Beverly Hills, Mich.)

Frank Darby, WR, 6-1, 180 (Jersey City, N.J.)

Noah Fant, TE/DE, 6-5, 210 (Omaha, Neb.)

Chauncey Golston, DE, 6-5, 235 (Detroit)

T.J. Hockenson, TE, 6-5, 230 (Chariton, Iowa)

Amani Hooker, DB, 6-1, 195 (Brooklyn Park, Minn.)

Amani Jones, LB, 6-0, 215 (Chicago)

Cedrick Lattimore, DE, 6-4, 251 (Detroit)

Romeo McKnight, DE, 6-5, 230 (Crystal Lake, Ill.)

Nick Niemann, LB, 6-3, 205 (Sycamore, Ill.)

Emmanuel Rugamba, WR/DB, 6-0, 172 (Naperville, Ill.)

Austin Schulte, DE, 6-4, 240 (Pella, Iowa)

Brandon Simon, DE, 6-1, 236 (Ramsey, N.J.)

Nathan Stanley, QB, 6-4, 193 (Menomonie, Wis.)

Kyle Taylor, LB, 6-2, 220 (Washington, D.C.)

Barrington Wade, RB, 6-1, 207 (Skokie, Ill.)

Kristian Welch, LB, 6-4, 218 (Iola, Wis.)

Spencer Williams, OL, 6-3, 275 (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

Devonte Young, WR, 6-0, 191 (Waldorf, Md.)

Toren Young, RB, 5-11, 206 (Monona Grove, Wis.)