Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: Who will be Iowa football's next recruit? Plus, new info on D.J. Carton, Trayce Jackson-Davis
The new December early signing period takes the cake for recruiting's busiest time of the year, in my book.
But spring might be the most fun.
Football recruiting is hitting its offseason stride, with underclassmen touring the country on unofficial visits — and, for the first time this year, official visits too.
And then basketball recruiting is kicking into high gear, with early-April's contact period and the first spring evaluation periods in the final two weekends of April.
So, get ready for an eventful few months.
Let's get to this week's questions.
Iowa is hosting some players at its April 20 spring game, including top running back target Jirehl Brock. I wouldn't be shocked if a prospect commits then.
I also wouldn't be surprised if nobody commits that day.
Because there's no obvious "next guy" right now. At least, not as obvious as when Jack Campbell told me a large factor in his impending commitment was the school's strength program. Surprise, surprise: He was a Hawkeye five days later.
Traditionally, you think of the in-state players as early-decision candidates. Four of Iowa's five 2019 recruits are from Iowa.
But from my conversations with Waverly-Shell Rock defensive end Mosai Newsom and Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson linebacker Cameron Baker, neither are close to a decision.
Newsom has picked up interest from Vanderbilt, Stanford and Air Force, among others, and recently started a strong relationship with Nebraska. He told me he doesn't plan to commit to a school until next fall.
And Baker is recovering from shoulder surgery that will make him pain-free on the football field for the first time since eighth grade. He's already become a three-star prospect with offers from Iowa and Northern Iowa with a torn labrum. Now, he's poised to gain more interest with a fully healthy offseason.
There are four guys, though, who Iowa stands well with and I could see making a decision before too long.
Four-star running back Jirehl Brock (Quincy, Illinois) told me he'll be attending Iowa's spring game. He's got a great relationship with Iowa, who gave him his first offer last year. He said he's in no rush to make a decision, but he doesn't want to wait too long. Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota are recruiting him the hardest right now. He recently told Rivals he's thinking about deciding late this summer.
Three-star cornerback Derrick Miller (St. Louis) has visited Iowa and Iowa State twice in the new year, with his most recent trip to Iowa City coming March 31 (and his first on March 4). It's looking like his decision could come down to the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. Iowa is trying to leave its mark this cycle in St. Louis, where it has 11 offers out.
Three-star receiver Desmond Hutson (Kansas City) is also expected at Iowa on April 20. Iowa is his only offer at this point, although he also visited Nebraska and Minnesota in recent weeks. The Hawkeyes are obviously well-positioned here. It just depends on how long Hutson wants to extend his recruitment.
Three-star offensive guard Justin Britt (Indianapolis) plays at Warren Central, the same school as Iowa signee Julius Brents and Iowa target David Bell. He's the least likely of these four to be the next Hawkeye recruit, in my opinion, but he's on the radar. He attended Iowa's March 4 junior day and he's visited Iowa City several times. But he's also picked up two SEC offers from Vanderbilt and Missouri in the past couple months.
Iowa isn't pursuing Alabama kids with no SEC offers. All seven of their current targets in Alabama hold at least one SEC offer; several hold ACC offers too.
So, I agree. The Hawkeyes would be wasting their time going after the kind of prospects in the deep south that they can find in their backyard — which should be a higher recruiting priority, anyway.
But ... if you've got a young, energetic assistant coach in Derrick Foster who has connections in one of the country's most football talent-rich states, you're going to spend some resources there.
I personally think a three-star recruit from a state as talented as Alabama could do very well at Iowa.
Here's the key, though: Foster fully understands his home base is the Midwest. He knows he needs to pick and choose his spots in his home state of Alabama — that he won't be able to spend too much time down there.
"My goal is not to just throw out a bunch of offers — that’s the image I don't want to give off," Foster told me after his spring practice press conference. "It’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality in the player. Making sure we’re recruiting the quality players that can play at this level."
If Foster and Iowa can make some moves and pry a couple players from the grasp of the low-to-mid-tier SEC programs, that'd be a win.
Fran McCaffery told our Mark Emmert that he plans to give Connor McCaffery one of Iowa's two open 2018 scholarships and pocket the other for a deep 2019 class.
The Hawkeyes are in solid position with two top-tier 2019 targets in Bettendorf four-star point guard D.J. Carton and Indiana four-star power forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, both top-50 prospects.
Iowa has in-home visits with Jackson-Davis on April 15 and Carton on April 17.
Carton also had in-home visits scheduled with Marquette (April 8), Ohio State (April 16) and Wisconsin (April 17) and his coach told me they were also trying to set up an in-home with Indiana.
It's been reported that Jackson-Davis has other in-home visits with Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue. He doesn't have the home-state Iowa tie like Carton. But he's close with Patrick McCaffery and has a longstanding relationship with Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis.
No, Illinois is still in the mix for Carton. His high school coach told me the Illini had been in contact this week.
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.