Iowa football: Position-by-position breakdown of the top 2019 targets on defense

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Hawkeyes currently have no recruits on defense for their 2019 class, so all proverbial holes are still wide open.

Cedar Falls' Jack Campbell tackles West High quarterback Evan Flitz during their game on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

This will be the most unique college football recruiting cycle to date, as juniors are now able to take official visits in the spring. Every junior prospect the Register has spoken to said they either will take or are considering taking official visits this spring.

Recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell told the Register in December that Iowa would try to get official visits set up for this spring. But last Wednesday, head coach Kirk Ferentz said they hadn't yet decided if they will host official visitors during the spring.

We'll see what happens there.

But, as we quickly turn the page from the 2018 class, here are the Hawkeyes' top 2019 defensive targets they'll be pursuing this spring and summer. These could, of course, change as the recruiting cycle wears on.

Here's a look at Iowa's top 2019 offensive targets, if you're interested.

Defensive line

Five defensive ends are listed here. Iowa hasn't offered many pure 2019 defensive tackles yet, while it has made defensive end an early priority.

Waverly-Shell Rock's Mosai Newsom runs drills during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017.

Mosai Newsom

Waverly-Shell Rock

6-foot-5, 245 pounds

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: Newsom and Cedar Falls linebacker Jack Campbell are probably Iowa's most realistic in-state priorities for the 2019 class. (Max Duggan could be a hard sell.) Despite little playing time, Newsom picked up college interest as a sophomore, and Iowa offered after South Dakota and Minnesota that summer. The Hawkeyes have been all in ever since, most recently sending a platoon of coaches to watch Newsom play Campbell in basketball. They're in good position here for a kid who still isn't near his high school potential and could wind up as a top-three prospect in the state.

Jason Bargy

Momence (Momence, Illinois)

6-5, 240

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 4 stars

Bottom line: Iowa offered Bargy last May, and he was on hand for the Hawkeyes' historic rout of Ohio State. He'd also visited campus during the summer and has developed a good relationship with Iowa. Both Rivals and 247Sports rank Bargy the No. 3 2019 prospect in a strong Illinois class. Notre Dame and Michigan State are also in the mix, and Illinois has made him a top-line priority for its 2019 class. Iowa is right in this.

Spencer Bono (52) of Elder sacks St. Edward's quarterback Kevin Kramer, causing a fumble, Sept. 17, 2016.

Spencer Bono

Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio)

6-4, 230

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: Iowa was the first school to offer Bono last May, well before his other Power Five offers, and it's been high on him ever since. He has taken two unofficial visits to Iowa City, and the Hawkeyes will look to get him on campus again soon. If the Hawkeyes are the first to offer a kid, they really like him. Bell always talks about how recruiting star values mean nothing to them, and they're clearly a big fan of Bono. 

Jalen Hunt

Belleville (Belleville, Michigan)

6-2, 245

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: The Hawkeyes are trying to set something up with Belleville High. They just signed Belleville's Kaevon Merriweather, and they've got three offers out to 2019 Belleville prospects: offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs, athlete Julian Barnett and Hunt. Of those three, Hunt is the most realistic target. He's a bit undersized, but Iowa really likes his motor and productivity. Iowa offered last October, after Iowa State, Kentucky and Temple. Since then, Minnesota and Missouri have also offered. Bell, the point man for Hunt's recruitment, will likely look to get him on campus soon.

Marcus Hicks

Northwest (Wichita, Kansas)

6-6, 230

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 4 stars

Bottom line: Iowa became Hicks' first Big Ten offer last June. At that point, he already held offers from Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State and Toledo. Since then, basically anybody and everybody has offered — including Ohio State, Oregon, Washington and Michigan. But Hicks has visited Iowa City twice. For a kid who lives 500 miles away, that means something. Unofficial visits are a great way to gauge interest, because the family has to pay — and money talks.


Cedar Falls' Jack Campbell gathers with teammates before their game at West High on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

Jack Campbell

Cedar Falls

6-4, 210

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports: 3 stars

Bottom line: As mentioned earlier, Campbell and Newsom are big-ticket items for Iowa this spring and summer. But it'll have to especially hustle with Campbell, because Matt Campbell and Iowa State have clearly made him one of their top — if not their top — priority this spring. Campbell's a strong, rangy linebacker who could fit in any defense. Iowa was Campbell's third offer last summer, after Iowa State and Northern Iowa. Minnesota has since offered, as well. He told the Register he'd like to take official visits to all four schools this spring and make a decision before his senior season. He's taken plenty of unofficial visits to Iowa and Iowa State, and those appear to be the front-runners.

Nick Henrich

Burke (Ohama, Nebraska)

6-4, 200

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 4 stars

Bottom line: Iowa is fortunate it entered Henrich's recruitment early. It became his third offer last May, after Iowa State and Minnesota. After a huge junior season, Henrich has fielded recent offers from Penn State, Texas A&M, Florida and Notre Dame, to name a few. Still, Iowa is very much in the mix. Reese Morgan has had a regular presence at Burke to check in on Henrich and tight end target Chris Hickman. Henrich has twice visited Iowa, and his father, Mike Henrich, played tennis for the Hawkeyes in the 1980s.


Larry Tracy

Decatur Central (Indianapolis, Indiana)

5-11, 175

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: The cousin of Hawkeye signee Tyrone Tracy, Larry Tracy had been committed to Iowa since July before retracting that commitment in January. His recruitment has gained some more traction with offers from Purdue, Minnesota and Louisville. Iowa is still in the picture for Tracy, but the track record of decommitments returning to their original choice isn’t great. He told Rivals he still plans to attend Iowa’s junior day on Saturday, and he still has a good relationship with Bell, Iowa’s Indianapolis recruiting guru. Keep an eye on this one.

Derrick Miller

John Burroughs School (St. Louis)

6-0, 170

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: Iowa offered Miller at a camp last June, becoming his second Power Five offer after Iowa State. Miller is a rising prospect out of a loaded 2019 St. Louis class, and with Dallas Craddieth signed, Iowa is trying to tap into that recruiting market. So far only Group of Five teams have offered after a strong junior year, so Iowa is in good position. He's been on campus twice — once for the camp last summer, and again for Iowa's Homecoming win over Illinois. But Iowa State likes him a lot, too; it hosted him for an unofficial visit in late January. This could be a mano-a-mano win for Kirk Ferentz against an in-state rival.

Marquis Wilson

Avon Old Farms (Windsor, Connecticut)

6-0, 175

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: Iowa just offered Wilson on Jan. 24. Penn State and Michigan were already in the picture. Wilson attends the same prep academy as current Iowa early-enrollee Nico Ragaini, so the Hawkeyes have an in. That, plus quarterback coach Ken O'Keefe's East Coast connections make Iowa a player here. But it will compete with some big-time powers. Obviously there's Penn State and Michigan, and Ohio State offered three days after Iowa. Wilson will become one of the top recruiting gems of the East Coast. Penn State is a logical early favorite.


Moses Douglass

Springfield (Springfield, Ohio)

6-2, 190

Rivals: 4 stars; 247Sports Composite: 4 stars

Bottom line: The Hawkeyes love Douglass. He was their first 2019 offer back in May 2016 (even before Indianapolis receiver  David Bell), and he has family ties to the university: His uncle, Dwight Sistrunk, played defensive back for Iowa in the 1980s. Douglass already held seven offers by the time Iowa jumped in, and since then, programs such as Alabama, Louisville, Michigan and Michigan State have offered. Bell is the point man here, and he'll look to get Douglass on campus soon. 

Sebastian Castro

Richards (Oak Lawn, Illinois)

6-1, 198

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: Iowa offered Castro at its junior day last year, when he was a sophomore. At the time, he held three other offers from Iowa State, Minnesota and Syracuse. Indiana offered a couple months later. After a strong junior season, Castro has picked up several more Group of Five offers, but Iowa is in good standing among his Power Five offers; he was on hand for the Hawkeyes' near-upset against Penn State. He is a legit top-five prospect in Illinois, and one that projects nicely as a strong or free safety in Iowa's defense. Plus, he lives only three-and-a-half hours away. This is a very attainable win for Iowa.


Thomas Jefferson (of Council Bluffs) junior running back Cameron Baker (25) heads for a first down as the Yellowjackets of Thomas Jefferson (Council Bluffs) challenge the Ankeny Hawks in the first half of play during the Homecoming game at Ankeny Stadium.

Cameron Baker

Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson

6-2, 210

Rivals: 2 stars; 247Sports Composite: 3 stars

Bottom line: Iowa gave Baker his lone offer in November, and it could very well wind up being glad it jumped in before anyone else. Baker was arguably the state's best running back last year, and he was also a darn good linebacker — where Iowa wants him. (Wyoming is considering him at running back.) But he hasn't played either of his past two seasons fully healthy. In November, he had surgery on a torn right labrum that had hindered him both years. And he had offseason surgery to clean up a meniscus issue after his sophomore campaign. Translation: Baker might not even be close to his potential yet, and the Hawkeyes are already building a strong relationship.

Kendall Abdur-Rahman

Edwardsville (Edwardsville, Illinois)

6-1, 180

Rivals: 3 stars; 247Sports Composite: Unrated

Bottom line: Adbur-Rahman is simply a high-caliber athlete who will help a Division I team. He can play quarterback, too, but he likely projects as a cornerback or safety at Iowa. The Hawkeyes offered in December, second to Iowa State. He hails from the same high school as five-star Iowa mega-recruit A.J. Epenesa, and LeVar Woods has already established a strong relationship with Abdur-Rahman. Notre Dame, Illinois, Minnesota and Northern Illinois have also extended offers. NIU wants him at quarterback, so the Huskies could be in contention if Abdur-Rahman wants to stay behind center in college.

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 and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.