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Iowa recruiting: Projecting roles for the Hawkeyes' 2018 football signees

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Letters of intent began flowing into Iowa City at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. We'll update this story as each of Iowa's new 2018 recruits officially become signees.

Dearborn Fordson punt returner Rayan Bandar (34) is tackled by Belleville's Kaevon Merriweather (26) during Belleville's 35-7 win over Fordson on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, at Fordson.

Kaevon Merriweather

Signed at 8:04 a.m.

S: 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Belleville (Michigan)

Rivals: 2 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Hawkcentral.com Projection: Merriweather is raw and likely won't see the field right away. He projects as a strong safety but he could grow into a linebacker.

HAWKEYE FILM ROOM:Physical Merriweather is what Iowa wants on defense

North Gwinnett High School's Jayden Mcdonald (8) tackles Colquitt High School quarterback Steven Krajewski (8) during a Class AAAAAAA football championship game, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in Suwanee, Georgia.

Jayden McDonald

Signed at 8:31 a.m.

LB: 6-2, 200, North Gwinnett (Georgia)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: McDonald projects as a play-making weak-side linebacker. He'll need to add some weight and strength as a freshman, but don't be surprised if he cracks the rotation as a sophomore.

FILM ROOM:Jayden McDonald is perfect fit for 4-3 defense

South Hamilton running back Logan Klemp breaks a tackle and runs for first down during the first quarter at Danver High School football field Friday, Oct 27, 2017, in Denver, Iowa.

Logan Klemp

Signed at 10:17 a.m.

LB: 6-3, 210, South Hamilton (Jewell, Iowa)

Rivals: 2 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Klemp dominated Class 1A Iowa high school football. There's obviously a huge leap up to Big Ten Conference football, but he's got size and speed you can work with to make a highly productive linebacker down the road.

FILM ROOM:Klemp was his team's top WR, and his hands prove it

Nico Ragaini

WR: 6-0, 185, Avon Old Farms (Connecticut)

Rivals: 2 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Ragaini is interesting. He's already the age of a college freshman, as he played a post-graduate year at Avon Old Farms this season. He doesn't boast great size or speed, but his film looks good. You could have said the same thing about Nick Easley.

Already signed

Julius Brents, Warren Central

Julius Brents

Signed in December, but Iowa officially announced at 7:57 a.m.

DB: 6-2, 180, Warren Central (Indianapolis)

Rivals: 4 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: An elite athlete with a nearly 40-inch vertical, Brents projects at safety or cornerback. 

FILM ROOM:4-star DB Brents has tools for success at safety or cornerback

D.J. Johnson

Signed in December, but Iowa officially announced at 8:03 a.m.

CB: 6-0, 170, North Central (Indianapolis)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Johnson projects as a cornerback at Iowa. With Josh Jackson leaving and no clear frontrunners for the starting jobs, Johnson will have a shot. Needs to add strength, though. 

Ashwaubenon Jaguars defender Mike Vannieuwenhoven can't stop running back Henry Geil from scoring for the Preble Hornets Thursday, August 17, 2017 at Goelz Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis.

Henry Geil

RB: 6-1, 215, Preble (Wisconsin)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Geil already has a college-ready frame. The rate of acclimation to the speed and power of Big Ten football will determine how early he sees the field. But running back is one of the easiest transitions to make between the high school and college levels. 

Decatur Central's Tyrone Tracy had 80 yards rushing and 88 receiving in a 63-28 victory over Plainfield.

Tyrone Tracy

WR: 6-0, 187, Decatur Central (Indianapolis)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Easley and Ihmir Smith-Marsette are likely the top two receivers next season. Tracy will compete with Brandon Smith and Devonte Young, among others, for the next in line. 

Dowling Catholic's John Waggoner met with Iowa assistant coach Reese Morgan on Tuesday afternoon.

John Waggoner

DE: 6-5, 245, West Des Moines Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines)

Rivals: 4 stars; 247Sports: 4 stars

Projections: With his frame and speed, Waggoner projects as a productive Big Ten defensive end. Don't expect to see him on the field as a freshman, though. Iowa's current crop of defensive ends is too good. 

FILM ROOM:John Waggoner has ideal pass-rusher traits for Iowa's scheme

Marin Catholic quarterback Spencer Petras (4) committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday.

Spencer Petras

QB: 6-5, 225, Marin Catholic (Greenbrae, California)

Rivals: 4 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: With Tyler Wiegers and Ryan Boyle gone, Petras could be the No. 2 as soon as this fall. He's already on campus as an early-enrollee. 

FILM ROOM:Petras' pocket presence, live arm stand out

Hazelwood Central defensive back Dallas Craddieth (right) knocks down a pass intended for De Smet's Jordan Johnson during a game on Friday, August 18, 2017 at De Smet High School in Creve Coeur, Mo.  Paul Kopsky, STLhighschoolsports.com

Dallas Craddieth

S: 6-1, 197, Hazelwood Central (St. Louis)

Rivals: 4 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Craddieth is too talented, fast and strong to keep off the field. He's got a chance to crack the depth chart in a secondary that needs some help next year. But he'll almost certainly get special teams reps.

FILM ROOM:Hard-hitting S Dallas Craddieth looks every bit like a future star

Iowa recruit Calvin Lockett poses with his family and Kirk Ferentz during his official visit to Iowa on the weekend of Dec. 8.

Calvin Lockett

WR: 6-2, 160, Largo (Largo, Florida)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projections: Lockett will need to bulk up plenty before he sees the field. Of course, we said the same thing about Smith-Marsette — although he came in at 175 pounds.

Jeffrey Jenkins

OG: 6-4, 270, Prairie Ridge (Crystal Lake, Illinois)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Jenkins projects as a solid contributor on the line a couple years down the road. Very hard to crack the offensive line rotation as a freshman. (Tristan Wirfs is an anomaly.) 

Solon's Tyler Linderbaum celebrates after forcing a fourth down during the Spartans' game against Decorah in Solon on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

Tyler Linderbaum

DT: 6-2, 270, Solon (Solon)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Once he finds a balance between size and speed with strength coach Chris Doyle, Linderbaum has a chance to be impressive. He's also a prototype center, and played that position in high school. We'll see what Iowa does here.

MORE:Linderbaum shows off explosive first step at U.S. Army All-American Bowl

Noah Shannon

DT: 6-1, 300, Oswego (Oswego, Illinois)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Shannon is a big body who will need some time to acclimate to the speed of the college game. Like Linderbaum, he'll need work with Doyle to find his balance of size/strength and speed.

West High's Dillon Doyle is pictured during the Trojans' game against Cedar Falls on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

Dillon Doyle

LB: 6-3, 215, Iowa City West (Iowa City)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: With a full spring head start and a great frame entering college, Doyle could compete for time at linebacker. Not saying he'll get it — that's so hard for a freshman to do. But he'll make everyone around him better through competition.

Jack Plumb

OT: 6-8, 250, Bay Port (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: If Iowa can mold his frame into that of a college offensive tackle, Plumb could be very good down the line. You can't teach 6-8. The issue will be preventing defensive ends from staying low and getting leverage, but this is what Iowa is known for developing. 

Washington linebacker Seth Benson at practice Tuesday, Nov. 7, at the Avera Sports Dome.

Seth Benson

LB: 6-1, 210, Sioux Falls Washington (South Dakota)

Rivals: 2 stars; 247Sports: 2 stars

Projection: An under-the-radar pickup, Benson projects as a solid piece in the linebacker rotation down the road. 

Cody Ince

OT: 6-5, 260, Unity (Balsam Lake, Wisconsin)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Ince projects as a solid piece of Iowa's offensive line rotation down the road. Will need time with Doyle, but has prototype frame. 

Samson Evans (right) will sign to play football with the Iowa Hawkeyes this week.

Samson Evans

ATH: 6-1, 205, Prairie Ridge (Crystal Lake, Illinois)

Rivals: 2 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: A dual-threat quarterback in high school, Evans projects as a slot receiver/running back/jack-of-all-trades for Iowa. He may see the field sooner than you think, simply because he can do so much. 

Terry Roberts

CB: 5-10, 171, Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pennsylvania)

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: Roberts is quick and can elevate with taller receivers. He'll need to add plenty of weight before he sees the field. 

Iowa Western's Daviyon Nixon (54) pursues a Northwest Mississippi running back during the 2017 Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls.

Daviyon Nixon

DT: 6-5, 295, Iowa Western Community College

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Projection: A stalwart for Iowa Western with an Alabama offer, Nixon could start for Iowa next year. He's already on campus as a mid-year transfer. His body is Big Ten-ready. He's got speed and power, and he dominated some of the best junior-college talent in the country this fall.

MORE:How Daviyon Nixon stuck with Iowa, despite his Alabama offer

Riley Moss

DB: 6-1, 182, Ankeny Centennial (Ankeny)

Rivals: 2 stars; 247Sports: 2 stars

Projection: Moss is a blueshirt, which basically means he's a walk-on until he gets on scholarship in the spring. He'll start competing for snaps next spring.

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@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.