Based on what was already in house and everything else on the way, the receiver position and secondary sat near the top of Kirk Ferentz’s priority list when the Iowa football program began its 2017 recruiting cycle.
The Hawkeyes signed just one receiver in their 2016 class and two of the three players at the position in the 2015 group burned their redshirts last year, leaving a roster gap and a list item that remained unchecked until Sunday night.
The program also watched five defensive backs depart in the last 12 months on top of graduation losses, creating another long-term need in the secondary.
In one big black-and-gold swoop, the Hawkeyes hauled in commitments from four players in two days — two receivers and two defensive backs — to help quell those concerns.
Gavin Holmes and Matt Hankins, a pair of three-star prospects from Texas, announced their plans Monday to join Iowa’s 2017 class. Their commitments came a day after Illinois defensive back Camron Harrell and Mississippi receiver Brandon Smith made pledges of their own to the Hawkeyes.
Holmes is a speedy 5-foot-11, 180-pound receiver with Iowa roots. He was born in Des Moines and has family in Newton.
Holmes picked the Hawkeyes over 27 other scholarship offers, including Duke, Kansas, Syracuse and Wisconsin. The three-star receiver from Northwest High School in Justin, Texas, clocked in this spring at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash at The Opening regional in Dallas after catching 61 passes for 828 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
“Gavin’s calling card is his speed, for sure,” Rivals.com Texas analyst Nick Krueger said. “He has top-level speed. He does a great job taking the top off defenses. He’s not the tallest dude, but when you can outrun everybody, sometimes it doesn’t matter.”
Hankins is a 6-1, 160-pound corner from Marcus High School in Flower Mound. He’s ranked the No. 4 cornerback prospect in the state by Scout.com and the No. 51 player at the position nationally by Rivals.com. Both recruiting services rate him a three-star prospect.
Hankins reported scholarship offers from 22 programs, including Colorado, Duke, Houston, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Texas Tech.
The latest additions vaulted the Hawkeyes up to 14 known commitments for 2017 and boosted Iowa up to No. 19 in the Rivals.com recruiting standings.
Iowa's Class of 2017 commitments:
After locking down two receivers and two defensive backs in a two-day stretch, Iowa is up to 14 commitments with its 2017 class. Here are the players currently pledged to the Hawkeyes:
Eno Benjamin, RB
Wylie East, in Wylie, Texas
Djimon Colbert, DB
Bishop Miege, in Shawnee Mission, Kan.
Jacob Coons, TE
Solon High, in Solon (Ia.)
Levi Duwa, DE
Mid-Prairie, in Wellman (Ia.)
A.J. Epenesa, DE
Edwardsville High, in Edwardsville, Ill.
Matt Hankins, DB
Marcus High, in Flower Mound, Texas
Camron Harrell, DB
Bradley-Bourbonnais, in Bradley, Ill.
Gavin Holmes, WR
Northwest High, in Justin, Texas
Mark Kallenberger, OL
Bettendorf High, in Bettendorf (Ia.)
Ivory Kelly-Martin, RB
Oswego East, in Oswego, Ill.
Coy Kirkpatrick, DE
Madrid High, in Madrid (Ia.)
Peyton Mansell, QB
Belton High, in Belton, Texas
Brandon Smith, WR
Lake Cormorant, in Lake Cormorant, Miss.
Tristan Wirfs, OL
Mount Vernon High, in Mount Vernon (Ia.)