Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: How do Iowa football's transfers affect the 2019 class?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Welcome, once again, to the Hawkeye recruiting mailbag. It's another crowded week, so onto the questions.

With the departures of Coons, McKnight, and Rugamba, will Iowa target someone at each position in the 2019 class? — @iowafanwilliams

Manny Rugamba, photographed celebrating with former Hawkeye Josh Jackson after Iowa's win over Ohio State last year, announced he would transfer from Iowa this week. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

We talk about it all the time: Recruiting class sizes are always in somewhat of a flux thanks to the annual attrition of college football.

Iowa has already seen three guys it expected next season leave in defensive end Romeo McKnight, tight end Jacob Coons and cornerback Manny Rugamba, who just announced his intent to transfer this week. Chances are, those won't be the only three departures.

The new openings give Kirk Ferentz flexibility with his 2019 class. He could target those three positions that have lost a body, or he could target the best available prospects. In all likelihood, it'll be some combination of both.

McKnight announced his transfer a while ago, so Iowa already factored his scholarship into its summer recruiting plans. I originally thought Iowa's max class size for 2019 would be 18. (Eleven graduating seniors plus attrition.) 

That number could wind up closer to 20. The Hawkeyes have already filled 14, so you're probably looking at up to six more recruits.

Wide receiver is a position of need. So is tight end and defensive end. Iowa could do with another linebacker, too, especially if it's Omaha's Nick Henrich. While there isn't necessarily a dire need for another defensive back (this year's freshmen secondary class is loaded), Rugamba's departure makes landing one more a smart idea. Then, the rest would go to best available.

David Bell of Warren Central in Indianapolis is Iowa's top 2019 recruiting target at wide receiver.

We know all about Iowa's No. 1 receiver target in David Bell. Illinois athlete Kendall Abdur-Rahman — who hails from the same high school as Iowa's A.J. Epenesa — is another name to monitor. I wrote about some additional back-up options a couple weeks ago.

At tight end, keep an eye on Zion Carter, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound prospect from Tampa who visited Iowa in late June. 

At defensive end, Georgia three-star prospect Tomari Fox is the main target. He took his official to Iowa in June with Jalen Hunt, Justin Britt and Dane Belton, who all committed. Also keep an eye on Iowa Western products Chester Graves and Malcolm Lee.

I mentioned Henrich at linebacker. If Iowa winds up looking for a late, under-the-radar pick-up like it did with Seth Benson and Logan Klemp, keep an eye on Matt Barnett of Alburnett. He's a 6-3, 200-pound athlete who plays all over the field. He's currently committed to South Dakota State, but Iowa has been keeping in contact lately.

There's some flexibility with defensive back. Does Iowa want a cover cornerback? If so, Michigan three-star Josh DeBerry is an intriguing offer. Or does Iowa want more of an athlete who can play all over, like a Kaevon Merriweather? Of the players the Hawkeyes have offered, Michigan three-star Kobe Myers fits that bill.

Who is the #Hawkeyes most realistic get in the 2019 class now that DJ has moved on? — @insiderhawk

I wrote at length about Iowa's post-D.J. Carton 2019 recruiting plans on Monday.

The basic gist is Iowa has a catalog of names for 2019, and sources with direct knowledge told me coaches never viewed this class thinking they had to land a point guard. It just so happened that arguably the country's very best lived a hop, skip and a jump away in Bettendorf. 

Now, the Hawkeyes will focus on two main goals: showing their remaining lofty targets love, and evaluating other un-offered prospects. Their main top-tier targets are Trayce Jackson-Davis, Keion Brooks, Zeke Nnaji, Malik Hall and E.J. Liddell. All five will be difficult gets for Iowa. But, given Brooks' June unofficial to Iowa, the Hawkeyes have reason for encouragement there.

I'm told Iowa also has a list of players it likes and wants to evaluate this July before determining whether to offer. That list is longer than two names, but two are publicly known in New York point guard Noah Hutchins and Ohio combo guard Andre Gordon.

Of those two, I'd say Hutchins is the more likely get. He's been talking with Iowa for a long time, and he's from Iowa assistant coach Andrew Francis' home state.

Iowa has one remaining scholarship for 2019, but it'd be safe to over-sign and take two with the knowledge that Tyler Cook could turn pro.

Would they offer Locure even after his commitment? — @EricLPauly

No, I don't think Iowa would turn to Des Moines North point guard Tyreke Locure.

It backed off his recruitment earlier this summer. Since then, Locure has committed to South Alabama, which is a great fit. Jaguars head coach Richie Riley made it clear to Locure that he was his guy — that he'll have the keys to the offense and the opportunity to play right away. Locure was Riley's No. 1 target, and he's being treated that way.

I don't think the Hawkeyes would reach back out to Locure, but I also think Locure would politely decline interest if they did. He doesn't want to be somebody's back-up to a back-up option, and I think anybody can understand that.

Plus, it's clear Iowa has other point guard options it's looking at — if it decides to take a point guard for 2019, at all.

With 2020 QB Deuce Hogan committing to Iowa so early, do you see this helping recruiting and will led to some more emphasis in Texas again? — @Dial54

After landing eight recruits from Texas in 2013-16, Iowa has only gotten two in the past three recruiting cycles — both in 2017. It was a contender for Texas 2019 defensive tackle Enoch Jackson for a time, but that's about it in terms of guys it legitimately competed for in this class.

Hogan's early commitment can help Iowa in Texas. Ranked the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in 2020 by 247Spots, Hogan is the type of recruit who can draw other prospects to Iowa with him. He's the first 2020 pledge for Iowa, so he can spend the rest of his high school career recruiting other guys he wants to play with in the Big Ten.

It also helps that Hogan plays in Grapevine, a part of the talent-packed Dallas metro.

It's just natural: A Texas kid is probably going to be more comfortable moving to the Midwest is he's got other Texas kids making the same move with him. Iowa can only hope this would work out better than the failed coalition it tried to build with Eno Benjamin and others in Texas two classes ago. 

The Hawkeyes currently have five other 2020 offers out to Texas prospects, and that includes four from the Dallas metro — all from juggernaut Bishop Dunne.

Seen or heard any progress being made in Alabama with recruiting? I know they have had a little success in Georgia. But any roads made in Alabama yet? — @ColinCahill13

Even though Iowa hasn't landed a recruit from Alabama for this cycle, Derrick Foster has done good work establishing a Hawkeye footprint in that state.

The Hawkeyes offered seven players from Alabama this year after offering only seven from the state over the past 17 years. They were a major player for A.J. Finley, a three-star running back out of state powerhouse St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile, and they also had a good relationship with Larry McCammon, a three-star running back out of national powerhouse Hoover.

Iowa football assistant coach Derrick Foster works with the running backs during a spring football practice on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, at the Iowa football performance center in Iowa City.

Foster is an established name in Alabama, and he's got a particularly good relationship with Steve Mask, head coach at St. Paul's Episcopal. Foster already has an offer out to one of Mask's 2020 players, three-star offensive lineman Brady Ward, plus an offer out to another Mobile product in three-star linebacker Adam Chaney.

Alabama is loaded with talent, year in, year out. Iowa isn't leaving any time soon — or at least not as long as Foster is on staff.

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_.