Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: Will Iowa tap into junior college market to fill 2019 class?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

Crowded mailbag this week. Let's get on with the questions.

With four players leaving early for the NFL, do you expect Iowa to address any team needs via the transfer market? — @markallendaniel

Iowa has backed off its involvement with Iowa Western linebacker/defensive end Chester Graves, Reivers head coach Scott Strohmeier told me. The No. 1 focus for the country's top junior college prospect is to finish this semester on a good academic note.

Missouri, which Graves officially visited in December, and Oregon, which Strohmeier said will be on campus to watch Graves on Wednesday, are two schools that seem like they have a shot.

Yes, the Hawkeyes are looking and will continue to look at other junior college guys, as well as graduate transfers. Strohmeier said Kirk Ferentz will visit Iowa Western on Wednesday to watch several prospects.

"We’ll look high and low and anywhere," Iowa director of recruiting Tyler Barnes told me on early signing day.

Iowa Western defensive tackle Atlias Bell (98) is receiving recruiting interest from Iowa and Iowa State, among others.

Starting with some junior college options...

  • Atlias Bell, DT, Iowa Western: Strohmeier said the Hawkeyes are showing a good bit of interest in the Dowling Catholic product who piled up 47 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks this season. Bell has picked up offers from Texas-San Antonio, Louisiana Tech and Bowling Green in the past week. Washington State has also been showing interest for a while. 
  • Elijah James, DT, Iowa Western: James was originally set to go to Kentucky, but he needed to come back this semester for academics. He's on track to graduate in May, and Iowa is interested. He holds offers from Kentucky and Chattanooga.
  • Michael Zachary, WR, Iowa Western: Strohmeier said the Hawkeyes have inquired about Zachary, a quick slot target and another Dowling Catholic product. Zachary caught 52 passes for 708 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He also returned punts and kickoffs for the Reivers. He holds offers from North Dakota State, Lamar and Tennessee-Martin.
  • Brandon Jordan, WR, Ventura College (California): Disclaimer — Jordan, who just picked up an Iowa State offer, told me he hasn't heard from Iowa. But Barnes recently followed the 6-foot-6 target on Twitter. (Imagine reading that sentence in a story in 2005.) Take that as you will. Might mean nothing, but I figured I'd throw his name in here.

In terms of graduate transfers, the main guy to watch right now is Rice defensive tackle Zach Abercrumbia. 247Sports and Rivals were reporting he'd officially visit Iowa the weekend of Feb. 1, and he confirmed that to me.

"I do not know much," he said of what he knows about Iowa, "but am looking forward to learning more."

The Hawkeyes are far from alone here. Miami, Memphis, SMU, Penn State, Mississippi State, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Texas, TCU and a handful of other schools are also involved.

Abercrumbia earned Conference USA honorable mention honors this season with a career-high 55 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.

Any new names on the radar with all the losses on the D-line & if so do any of them seem promising? — @crandall_tyson

Other than the transfer possibilities mentioned above...

Miles Younger, a defensive end out of Georgia, told me Iowa would be in to see him on Wednesday. The big-bodied, 6-3 athlete holds FCS offers from Tennessee Tech and Bryant.

Deven Brantley, another Georgia defensive end, told me defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Kelvin Bell visited him at school Wednesday. The 6-3, 220-pounder holds offers from Chattanooga, Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina, among others.

Tre Huntley, a three-star defensive end out of Lakeland, Florida, could also be a name to watch. He holds offers from Northern Illinois and Kent State, among others.


I know he isn't on the defensive line, but Kansas City linebacker Clyde Price told me Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker was in town to watch him Tuesday. Price held Hawkeye interest before the early signing period, but he didn't get an offer. He does have offers from Kansas State, Bowling Green, Illinois State and Northern Iowa, among others.

With four guys leaving for the NFL, Iowa has more 2019 scholarships to work with than it might have anticipated. Secondary and defensive line were the two main positions of need immediately after the early signing period. After that, we'll see how the Hawkeyes want to fill the remaining slots.

I wouldn't have guessed they'd pursue another linebacker, which is the position Price said Iowa sees him at. We'll see if anything further develops here.

Any chance Iowa moves Logan Lee to DE with the recent losses along the D-line? — @puffbach

In my mind, this is an intriguing possibility to look at.

Lee, one of the country's best 2019 tight end recruits, told me in December that Hawkeye coaches had mentioned the possibility of him playing defensive end at some point in Iowa City.

Orion's Logan Lee, an Iowa commit, works on plays during practice in Orion, Ill. on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.

I brought up the possibility to Barnes on the early signing day, and this was his response:

"He’s a good football player. He’s a guy you want on your team. He could be a tight end here in four years. He may be a D-end. Who knows? But we’ll start at tight end and let him go from there, and we’ll see what happens."

Does that change now that Iowa has lost three defensive linemen over the past couple weeks? Probably not. But like I said, it's certainly interesting to think about. Lee was mainly recruited at tight end, but he was just as dominant as a defensive end at Orion.

And he has the physical traits — 6-foot-5, 245 pounds with athleticism — to translate there.

Have you ever considered changing the spelling of your last name to Bane and wearing a fancy respirator all the time? — @WideRtNattyLt

Yes. Every morning, every afternoon, every night. Every time I take a shower. Every time I eat breakfast. Every time I drive my car. Every time I walk into the newsroom. Every time I blink. Every waking moment, really.

(If you need me to say "just kidding" here, then I must not be good at conveying sarcasm.)

Tom Hardy as Bane in 'Dark Knight Rises.'

It's actually really funny that WideRtNattyLt asked this.

See, two things happened in 2012...

One: "The Dark Knight Rises" came out. Two: I was a freshman in college.

I swear, every time I met someone new that year, whether it was in the dorms or just anywhere on campus, people would give me their best Bane impersonation and ask me if my last name was spelled the same way. I had no choice but to develop the best dang Bane voice you'll ever hear and respond with, "You'll never know."

Iowa is interested in Tamin Lipsey from Ames. Why haven’t they offered? Do they even have a chance? — @iowafanwilliams

Yep, Iowa is definitely interested in Lipsey, the Ames freshman point guard who's already considered one of the country's top 2022 prospects.

Why haven't they offered? As good as he is, it's still early. Very early. The Hawkeyes probably want to get more eyes on him before they feel comfortable offering. Although, as an in-state school, it makes sense to offer as early as possible.

Iowa State has the proximity advantage. It's been no trouble for the Cyclones to learn all they need to know about Lipsey. He practically lives in their backyard.

Steve Prohm has given Lipsey his only offer right now, but Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Tulane have expressed interest. (There are plenty of other schools that have Lipsey on their radar, too.)

Do the Hawkeyes have a chance? Certainly. Is it going to be difficult to pull Lipsey away from the Cyclones? It may be.

"(Iowa State is) really up there because I’ve always loved the Cyclones, so that’s really cool," Lipsey told me last Friday. "They’re really a great team, great college. My sister went there, so they’re really up there. But I’m still looking at my options."

This kid is worth the extra recruiting effort.

And who knows what may change between now and November 2021, when he can sign a letter of intent. It's so early in this recruitment.

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_.