Breaking down Hawkeye football's scholarship distribution
Things just operate differently in the world of college football recruiting.
It's a world where the word commitment doesn't necessarily mean "commitment."
A prospect can be rated with three stars when he goes to sleep, four by the time he wakes up.
Having five scholarships available could actually mean seven, or vice versa.
In other words, there's always gray area and asterisks. With National Signing Day coming very soon (Wednesday), Iowa has somewhere in the range of four to seven scholarships to deliver in its Class of 2017.
This is a big recruiting weekend in Iowa City. As of Thursday morning, there were at least 16 official visitors scheduled to visit. That list includes many long-standing commitments like A.J. Epenesa and some new blood that Iowa's coaching staff is looking to impress. If you're attending Saturday's Iowa-Ohio State basketball game (7 p.m.), you'll see them there.
Iowa seems to have 80 or 81 of its allotted 85 scholarships spoken for, although the school doesn't reveal who's on scholarship and who isn't. That leaves four or five available. Or six. Or seven.
Who will snap up the final spots? And what do the Hawkeyes look like position by position? Here's a look at the believed 2017 scholarship distribution (hat tip to HawkeyeReport.com, which does a great job tracking this stuff):
Scholarships committed (4): Tyler Wiegers (RS jr.), Drew Cook (RS soph.), Nathan Stanley (true soph.), Peyton Mansell (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: In addition to Mansell, Iowa has added preferred walk-on commitment Tommy Herrion of Wilmette, Ill., in this cycle.
On the recruiting trail: The Hawkeyes are well-stocked at QB for now; look for them to recruit one per year, including in the Class of 2018.
Scholarships committed (5): Akrum Wadley (RS sr.), Marcel Joly (RS jr.), Toks Akinribade (true soph.), Toren Young (RS frosh.), Ivory Kelly-Martin (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: Good thing Wadley came back for his senior year. With the de-commitment of four-star Eno Benjamin and transfer of Derrick Mitchell Jr., this position has gotten a little thin.
On the recruiting trail: Iowa would like to add one more running back in this class; Kyshaun Bryan (a South Carolina commit) might fit the bill. He’s on the visitor list this weekend and is also considering Pittsburgh.
Scholarships committed (1): Brady Ross (RS soph.).
Worth mentioning: Ross’ addition to the scholarship rolls hit social media earlier this month. He and senior-to-be Drake Kulick, who broke his leg in the regular-season finale vs. Nebraska, will likely continue to split time.
On the recruiting trail: Iowa doesn’t recruit fullbacks, it converts other players (usually linebackers) into them.
Scholarships committed (8): Matt VandeBerg (RS sr.), Jerminic Smith (true jr.), Adrian Falconer (true jr.), Ryan Boyle (RS soph.), Devonte Young (true soph.), Max Cooper (true frosh.), Henry Marchese (true frosh.), Brandon Smith (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: With Jay Scheel (injury) and Jonathan Parker (transfer) out the door and Iowa already coming off a woeful passing year, the immediate need here is greatly amplified. Newton native Nick Easley, a junior-college all-American at Iowa Western, is also coming aboard as a preferred walk-on.
On the recruiting trail: With New Jersey’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette de-committing from Rutgers this week, the recently visited Hawkeyes would seem to be the favorite, but Minnesota has thrown a late hat into the ring. Iowa City West’s Oliver Martin, the state’s top recruit, remains the big unknown.
Scholarships committed (6): Jon Wisnieski (RS sr.), Nate Vejvoda (RS soph.), Noah Fant (true soph.), Shaun Beyer (RS frosh.), T.J. Hockenson (RS frosh.), Jacob Coons (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: Two walk-ons not listed above started vs. Michigan and Florida and return in senior Peter Pekar and sophomore Nate Wieting. Both are blocking specialists, and Pekar is No. 1 on the pre-spring depth chart. Hockenson got rave reviews from teammates in bowl prep.
On the recruiting trail: The Hawkeyes hosted three-star Carmel, Ind., prospect Kurt Rafdal (6-7, 230) for an official visit last weekend and are battling Nebraska and LSU. If Rafdal goes elsewhere, Iowa may stand pat at this position.
Scholarships committed (15): Ike Boettger (RS sr.), Boone Myers (RS sr.), Sean Welsh (RS sr.), Lucas LeGrand (RS jr.), Keegan Render (RS jr.), Ross Reynolds (RS jr.), James Daniels (true jr.), Landan Paulsen (RS soph.), Levi Paulsen (RS soph.), Cole Banwart (RS frosh.), Alaric Jackson (RS frosh.), Spencer Williams (RS frosh.), Mark Kallenberger (true frosh.), Coy Kirkpatrick (true frosh.), Tristan Wirfs (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: It seems Iowa is fully stocked up front, having lost only one starter (Cole Croston) from 2016. Madrid’s Kirkpatrick (6-5, 265) is listed at defensive end but could grow into a front-five option.
On the recruiting trail: Iowa is full in this class, with Wirfs (6-5, 308) as the four-star prize, and has already secured a Class of 2018 commitment in Jeff Jenkins.
Scholarships committed (8): Parker Hesse (RS jr.), Matt Nelson (RS jr.), Anthony Nelson (RS soph.), Chauncey Golston (RS frosh.), Romeo McKnight (RS frosh.), Austin Schulte (RS frosh.), Brandon Simon (RS frosh.), A.J. Epenesa (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: Iowa had the luxury of redshirting four freshmen in 2016 (two — McKnight and Schulte — were coming off knee surgeries) and also has second-teamer Jake Hulett, a walk-on, returning.
On the recruiting trail: Iowa was done at defensive end in January 2017 when Epenesa (6-5, 270) said yes. Hence, 247sports.com’s Steve Wiltfong writing this from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl: "I’d be shocked if Edwardsville five-star A.J. Epenesa doesn’t start as a true freshman for Iowa."
Scholarships committed (6 or 7): Nathan Bazata (RS sr.), *Michael Slater (RS jr.), Garret Jansen (RS soph.), Jake Newborg (RS soph.), Brady Reiff (RS soph.), Cedrick Lattimore (true soph.), Levi Duwa (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: Slater didn’t make the bowl trip, but a UI spokesman said Wednesday there had been no change in his status — so Slater stays here, at least temporarily. Matt Nelson (6-8, 282) could move inside, especially if Epenesa is the real deal at end. Mid-Prairie’s Duwa (6-3, 225) is coming off a second foot surgery, so he’ll probably redshirt and use that time to grow into a tackle.
On the recruiting trail: Iowa offered Northern Illinois commitment Daviyon Nixon (6-2, 285) on Wednesday, and he quickly scheduled an official visit to Iowa City.
Scholarships committed (12): Bo Bower (RS sr.), Josey Jewell (RS sr.), Kevin Ward (RS sr.), Ben Niemann (true sr.), Aaron Mends (RS jr.), Jack Hockaday (true jr.), Angelo Garbutt (RS soph.), Amani Jones (true soph.), Kristian Welch (true soph.), Nick Niemann (RS frosh.), Kyle Taylor (RS frosh.), Barrington Wade (RS frosh.).
Worth mentioning: Probably Iowa’s deepest position group for 2017. A lot of these guys will at least play special teams. Ward (Ben Niemann’s backup at outside linebacker) was recently put on scholarship.
On the recruiting trail: Thomas Johnston was a top final-week target, but he surprisingly spurned the Hawkeyes and other good SEC offers to commit to UAB. Iowa City High’s Nate Wieland, a Northern Illinois commit, picked up an offer this week. Iowa already has a 2018 linebacker commitment in Mike Bruner.
Scholarships committed (6): Miles Taylor (true sr.), Jake Gervase (RS jr.), Brandon Snyder (RS jr.), Amani Hooker (true soph.), Noah Clayberg (true frosh.), Dijmon Colbert (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: Anthony Gair was a nice late-season find, but he departed via graduation as quickly as he emerged. Don’t sleep on Pella’s athletic Clayberg, the first "grayshirt" (attending school as a walk-on but barred from team activities for the fall semester) under Kirk Ferentz.
On the recruiting trail: Iowa has given Geno Stone, a Kent State commit from western Pennsylvania (home to a certain former hard-hitting, legendary Iowa safety), a late offer.
Scholarships committed (7): Joshua Jackson (RS jr.), Michael Ojemudia (RS soph.), Manny Rugamba (true soph.), Cedric Boswell (RS frosh.), Matt Hankins (true frosh.), Cameron Harrell (true frosh.), Josh Turner (true frosh.).
Worth mentioning: Iowa's youngest position after the graduation of Desmond King and Greg Mabin, who combined for 86 career starts.
On the recruiting trail: Headlining the incoming group is Hankins, who stuck with Iowa despite a Michigan offer. The Hawkeyes might add one more corner if Minnesota commit Trey Creamer of Cartersville, Ga., flips. Creamer made a low-key official visit to Iowa City last weekend.
Scholarships committed (2): LS Tyler Kluver (RS sr.), PK Mick Ellis (RS jr.).
Worth mentioning: Keith Duncan, last year’s starting placekicker as a true freshman, is still waiting for a scholarship offer. Other walk-ons at that position include Miguel Recinos, Caleb Shudak and incoming freshman Cole Hahn of West Des Moines Valley. Sophomore walk-on Colten Rastetter is listed as the starting punter.
On the recruiting trail: Iowa had been searching from California to Georgia to find a punter to replace Ron Coluzzi and might've found its man. The Hawkeyes presented a full scholarship offer to left-footed, Milwaukee-based punter Ryan Gersonde on Thursday.