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IOWA CITY, Ia. — The race for three-star junior college linebacker Will Honas is heating up, and four clear contenders have emerged: Iowa, Kansas State, Pitt and Ole Miss. Coaches from all four of those programs visited him this week, after none stopped by during the season.

A person close to the situation told HawkCentral Iowa was Honas' early favorite. That lean makes sense, given Iowa's immediate need at the position — a larger need than any of the other "final four." Honas previously told HawkCentral that potential playing time would likely be the biggest factor in his decision. 

A 6-foot-2, 225-pound inside linebacker from Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, Honas will take official visits to Kansas State this weekend and Iowa the following weekend. He said he'll take at least one more official to Ole Miss or Pitt the weekend of Dec. 15. He said he also might try to squeeze in a fourth  during one of the three weeks before the early signing period begins Dec. 20.

Hawkeyes linebacker coach Seth Wallace visited Honas on Tuesday. And in a Thursday conversation, Honas said Wallace made one thing very clear: He is Iowa's top linebacker priority and one of the team's biggest 2018 priorities as early signing day approaches.

"It’s good to hear," said Honas, who plans to sign his letter of intent Dec. 20. "It’s kind of humbling to be seen (that way)."

Honas, who also has offers from Louisville, Kansas, Arkansas, Houston and Cal, is slated to graduate from Butler this December and transfer to whichever school he picks in time for spring ball. He has two years of eligibility remaining. He finished this season with a team-best 96 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Kansas State linebackers coach Blake Seiler visited Honas at school and home Monday. The Wildcats were the first Power Five program to offer. Like Iowa, they've got immediate holes to fill at linebacker — two of three spots will be open. They're likely Iowa's toughest competition at this point.

But Ole Miss and Pitt are certainly making late pushes. Pitt only recently offered Honas (Nov. 15), and both programs sent their head coach to court Honas this week. 

Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke and linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto visited Honas at home on Tuesday. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi had an in-home visit with Honas on Wednesday.

Like Kansas State, Ole Miss is graduating two of three starting linebackers. Pitt doesn't graduate any starting linebacker.

"(Wallace) just talked about the opportunity that there is at Iowa," Honas said of Iowa having three open spots. "That I’d come in and have an opportunity to play — that they’re a really good defense and could be a really good team next year."

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 mbain@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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