Where Iowa stands with each 2018 target entering final weekend before early signing day

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Hawkeyes checked off another box in their 2018 wish list Wednesday night with deep-threat wide receiver Calvin Lockett of Largo, Florida. His commitment gave Iowa 15 players in its 2018 class, which is expected to finish at around 18-20 players.

Yes, that's more than the 16 openings that will be created via graduation this year. But that number of open slots will remain fluid throughout the winter and spring, as college football teams go through their annual ritual of attrition. We saw an example of that on Thursday, with safety Noah Clayberg telling the Register he is transferring.

Bottom line: Iowa still has work to do with its 2018 class. There are boxes yet to be checked and prime targets to monitor.

Let’s take a closer look at those remaining targets and how their recruiting stands with Iowa entering the final weekend before the early signing period.

Cathedral Fighting Irish running back Markese Stepp (30) celebrates a touchdown during second quarter action between Cathedral and Center Grove at Arsenal Technical High School, Indianapolis, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017.

Markese Stepp, running back

Who is he?

Stepp is a freight train of a running back (6 feet and 225 pounds) with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, according to his Hudl profile. He’s a former Notre Dame pledge who reopened his recruitment Dec. 2. He will play in the 2018 Polynesian Bowl. From Cathedral High in Indianapolis, Stepp is a consensus four-star prospect, and the 247Sports Composite ranks him 2018’s No. 12 running back. He's a powerful north-south runner with the cuts to weave through secondaries. 

Where does Iowa stand?

The Hawkeyes are in this race, which will last though the early signing period and into the new year. USC, Indiana and Louisville are the other main contenders at the moment. He will take an official visit to USC this weekend and has an official to Louisville scheduled for Jan. 12. Iowa made an in-home visit Tuesday night — as did Louisville. He also took an unofficial visit to Indiana last Saturday. Lots of moving pieces here.

Butler Community College linebacker Will Honas pursues the ball-carrier during a regular season game this year.

Will Honas, linebacker

Who is he?

Honas is Iowa’s top remaining early signing priority. He is arguably the best junior college linebacker in the country, and the Hawkeyes need experienced linebackers next season. Honas is set to graduate from Butler Community College (El Dorado, Kansas) in December and will transfer to his school of choice in January with two years of eligibility remaining. The 247Sports Composite rates him as the class' best junior college inside linebacker. The NJCAA recently named him to its All-American First Team defense. He's got great sideline-to-sideline speed and a knack for finding the ball-carrier, racking up 96 tackles and 10 for loss this season.

Where does he stand with Iowa?

Iowa has been considered the favorite to land Honas, but Nebraska is making a late push. Honas is visiting Lincoln this weekend after receiving a Huskers offer Dec. 3. He visited Iowa City last weekend. The other main contender right now is Kansas State, where he took his first official visit Dec. 1. He’d previously told HawkCentral he might try to squeeze in one more official visit before making a decision next week.

Dallas Craddieth, defensive back

Who is he?

One of the best available defensive backs in the country, Craddieth is a newly minted four-star prospect who has said he will extend his recruitment beyond the early signing period. The Florissant, Missouri, native is a big defensive back — 6-foot-1, 190 pounds — with quick feet, a powerful tackle, a ballhawk mentality and proven success in the return game. He’s been at or near the top of Iowa’s 2018 board for a long time.

Where does he stand with Iowa?

This one is tougher to read. His high school played a lot on Saturdays, so he couldn’t take as many visits during the season. He's making up for it now, with three official visits already taken or scheduled: Iowa on Dec. 8, Illinois this weekend and Indiana on Jan. 19. Wisconsin is also in the picture. Coaches from those four schools have had a regular presence in Craddieth’s living room this month. The talented defensive back's recruitment could last all the way until the regular signing period begins Feb. 7.

Drake Stoops, wide receiver

Who is he?

Yes, Drake is the son of former Iowa assistant and Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. A three-star prospect, Stoops is a highly productive, 5-foot-11, 175-pound receiver. He racked up 66 catches for 1,063 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season with Norman North in Norman, Oklahoma. For a comparison, think Nick Easley.

Where does he stand with Iowa?

Stoops received his Hawkeye offer Dec. 3 and immediately scheduled his official visit to Iowa City for Dec. 8-10. His parents both went to Iowa, his mom was born in Iowa and his grandparents still live in Iowa. He's also very close with former Hawkeye George Kittle. So there's a lot on Iowa's side. But Memphis and Ohio are also on Stoops’ radar. (As is a walk-on option with Oklahoma.) The Tigers offered him in late October and boast a pass-happy offense that heavily features its wide receivers. Ohio, meanwhile, hosted Stoops for an official visit on Oct. 6. Stoops has said he isn’t sure if he will sign during the early signing period or not.

Spencer Petras, quarterback

Who is he?

Petras is the 2018 class’ 11th-best pro-style quarterback, according to Rivals. He’s 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, and his film reminds you a bit of Nate Stanley’s: sturdy in the pocket, sound footwork, canon of an arm. But he’s also an Oregon State pledge. Iowa offered the four-star prospect in the wake of the Beavers coaching change, and Petras took an abbreviated official visit to Iowa City last Sunday. He wants to sign next week and early enroll at whichever college he picks. Petras played for Marin Catholic in California, the alma mater of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

Where does he stand with Iowa?

The key here is Petras never decommitted from Oregon State, and he never chose to reopen his recruitment to alert potential suitors. This has always appeared to be an Iowa or Oregon State scenario. He is priority A, B and C right now for the Beavers, who have a lot invested in Petras — and he has a lot invested in them. He committed last May.

Zachary Wilson, quarterback

Who is he?

Wilson is Iowa’s second 2018 quarterback target — perhaps the more realistic option at this point. He’s another big kid, checking in at 6-3 and 200 pounds, who wants to sign with a school next week and early enroll. The three-star prospect racked up 2,986 passing yards and 752 rushing yards this season with Corner Canyon in Draper, Utah. He's got a very similar skill set to Petras: great arm and pocket awareness plus the ability to freelance when necessary.

Where does he stand with Iowa?

He decommitted from Boise State on Wednesday, opening the door for Iowa and BYU, who have recently offered. Minnesota and Syracuse also offered after he had originally committed to the Broncos in June. This recruitment is going to be hectic: He has eight days to decide among new suitors and sign by Dec. 22. Iowa is in a great position, though. On Thursday, KSL-TV in Salt Lake City reported that Wilson is taking an official visit to Iowa City this weekend.

Zach Petersen, defensive end

Who is he?

Petersen is the state of Iowa's most intriguing prospect. As of Nov. 13, only Division II programs Lindenwood and Minnesota State-Mankato had offered the North Scott product. Now, Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Nebraska and Kansas State all want him. He's a defensive end with with a fantastic motor, great hands and a 6-4, 225-pound frame that just begs to be crafted into a high-end Division I lineman. Iowa recruit John Waggoner is 2018's top in-state defensive end prospect, but Petersen probably has the best senior season film. He and Waggoner were both selections for the Register's All-Iowa Elite Team

Where does he stand with Iowa?

Of his five current suitors, Iowa was the second-to-last in the to join the race. Illinois began the snowball effect Nov. 14. Kansas State then offered in late November, followed by Iowa State (grayshirt offer), Iowa and Nebraska. Chatter around his recruitment suggests Iowa's lack of an agriculture program hurts its chances, especially since the other four contenders boast strong agriculture colleges. Plus, Illinois — which has been "all-in" since the beginning, North Scott head coach Kevin Tippett told the Register — has no current 2018 defensive end commits. Meanwhile, it was thought Iowa would be done recruiting defensive ends even before it landed Waggoner.

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_.