Defense and special teams are among the focal points as Ferentz enters his 20th season at Iowa.
As was the case before the early signing period, linebacker has become the position to watch for Hawkeyes recruiting before the Feb. 7 signing day.
Two top targets emerged in January in Georgia product Jayden McDonald and Florida product James Miller. But one of the top in-state linebacker prospects, South Hamilton’s Logan Klemp, received an Iowa offer Friday night and committed on the spot.
That could mean several things. One, that Iowa knows it might not land McDonald (who is also considering Purdue, Ole Miss and Kansas State) or Miller (who is visiting Florida State this weekend). Two, that Kirk Ferentz was just waiting for an open scholarship to give Klemp, and Ryan Boyle’s transfer provided the opening. Or three, something completely different. (In recruiting, it’s very often the "something completely different" option.)
Regardless, the Hawkeyes have liked Klemp, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound prospect, for a while and he will sign Feb. 7.
Klemp led South Hamilton with 82.5 tackles, 11 solo tackles for loss and six solo sacks this season. He was a stalwart running back, tallying 1,260 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 188 carries. He also led his team with 11 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown. He was an honorable mention recipient on the Register's All-Iowa football team.
Unrated by Rivals and 247Sports, Klemp held other offers from Cornell, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota and South Dakota State.
Let’s take a look at what makes Klemp stand out in this Hawkeye film room session …
He’s got the speed and athleticism of, well, a good high school running back: Half of Klemp’s film consists of running back clips, so you can get a good sense of his dominance on offense — and how much his high school relied on him. He routinely flashes his 4.7 second 40-yard dash speed to break away from the secondary for touchdowns. Obviously, 4.7 won’t cut it as a college running back, but that’s a nice starting point for an incoming linebacker. At 0:25, Klemp weaves through traffic to his right before bursting through a hole and quickly separating for a 60-yard touchdown. At 0:47, he breaks a tackle with legs that can squat 400 pounds before, again, accelerating and creating separation from a hapless secondary. Now, this is all north-south speed. We don’t get to see as much of Klemp’s lateral quickness, which is what he’ll rely on much more as an Iowa linebacker.
Iowa's linebackers often drop back in pass coverage. Klemp has the hands for that job: As we mentioned earlier, Klemp led his team in receiving this season. He lined up as the motion man, the slot target and the outside receiver throughout his film. All the catches shown were either in traffic (with two or three defenders on him) or with one handed. A 1:00, Klemp snares a high pass on a flat route with three defenders swarming him. At 1:30, he catches another flat route with one hand before escaping two defenders for a chunk gain. At 2:40, he lines up outside and catches a deep cross with two defenders right next to him. In short: It looks like he’s got dang good hands for a linebacker prospect. Kemp logged two interceptions this year, but we don't see either of those in film. We don’t once see him drop back into pass coverage, in fact. He mostly lined up as a pseudo defensive end right on the edge of the line.
Tools and instincts are there for a strong rush defender: Klemp showed nice pass-rushing skills and great backfield speed to wreak some havoc on opposing quarterbacks. At Iowa, though, he won’t blitz very often and will instead be asked to play a big role in the rush defense. He showed promise in that department, too. He fills gaps well and can quickly get inside to thwart plays with his speed. There are good examples of that at 2:15 and 2:50. Then, at 2:32, Klemp shows college-ready discipline when he’s caught between a two players on an option play, keeps his feet steady and attacks the quarterback for a loss when he decides to carry the ball. His motor shines on his film, too, especially at 2:00: The quarterback throws a screen to the opposite side from the edge Klemp was rushing, but he sprints across the field, weaves through traffic and rapidly closes on the wide receiver to pull him down from behind.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.