Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa has studied last year's Hawkeye starters and knows exactly what trait he would steal from each. Hear what he says: Mark Emmert, email@example.com
It's a jam-packed mailbag today. Let's get right to it.
Update on Michael Lois?
I saw several folks asking about this. Some background for those of you who don't know: Three-star Wisconsin defensive end Michael Lois committed to Iowa on Sept. 1. Fifteen days later, he broke three vertebrae in his spine during an accident at the pool.
While he was projected to make a full recovery, his football future was in doubt. Doctors advised him against playing the violent sport again for risk of injuring his neck.
I talked with Lois a bit on Tuesday. About nine months since the injury, he said he feels "back to normal," he's done with physical therapy and he has returned to lifting heavy weights. Doctors have not yet cleared him for contact, which is obviously the next hurdle in his quest to get back on the field.
He said doctors want to see where his health is at a full year after the injury before making any decisions about next steps, so he'll know more in mid-September.
But, from the beginning, Lois always planned to play football again.
And that goal hasn't changed.
"That’s the plan. I know I’m going to have to work twice as hard at it now, but that’s what keeps me motivated and going," said Lois, who was on campus for his official visit last weekend. "I’m never going to let someone tell me no. I’ll be a Hawk until the day I die. The support from the Iowa staff, team and community has been awesome. I definitely made the right choice choosing Iowa."
Lois says he will be on scholarship at Iowa whether he's playing football or not. He will enroll early in January.
Based on how supportive Hawkeye coaches have been throughout this whole process, there's no reason to doubt that they'd keep him on scholarship. That could be a clue as to why they're adding a lot of defensive ends in this 2020 class, though — perhaps they're doing so in case Lois winds up not playing.
Top targets/Iowa wish list for the remaining '20 scholarships? — @bc11_27
Tampa four-star offensive lineman Connor McLaughlin committed to Stanford this week. Other than him, most of Iowa's remaining high school targets are still available.
To review ...
Tight end: Four-star Canadian product Theo Johnson and four-star Ohio product Luke Lachey are the main guys. Johnson visited the first weekend of June and Lachey was on campus last weekend. There's a lot of momentum with Lachey right now.
Secondary: Three-star Alabama cornerback Omari Porter is the only defensive back visitor who did not commit to Iowa over the weekend. The Hawkeyes now have a legitimate presence in Alabama with Derrick Foster, and Porter would be a big get.
Defensive line: More defensive ends? Sure, why not. Iowa is positioned pretty well for Indiana three-star product Deontae Craig, who has also visited Indiana and Tennessee. Four-star Michigan product Bryce Mostella also visited Iowa over the weekend, although he's trending toward Penn State.
Receiver: Two main targets have emerged in three-star Connecticut product Diante Vines and three-star Illinois product Kaevion Mack. Iowa is competing against Group of Five schools for Mack, and Vines' other Power 5 offer is from Boston College. I'd be surprised if they don't get one of these two.
Outside of the high school ranks: Iowa is also monitoring a couple Iowa Western products in defensive end Devin Drew (originally from Kansas City) and receiver Marcell Barbee (originally from Colorado).
In terms of a wish list? A recruiting haul of Lachey, Porter, Craig and Vines is not unrealistic, and I'd imagine Iowa would be quite happy with that.
That group would put them at 24 used scholarships in the 2020 class. Iowa is set to graduate 22 seniors after this fall. Add in the sport's annual attrition/NFL departures, and the Hawkeyes would likely have a few more scholarships to work with in the winter and spring market to wrap up their 2020 class.
Updates on in-state basketball prospects Payton Sandfort and Tucker DeVries? — @EngineeredPer4m
It's been a busy week for the pair of Waukee rising juniors.
After performing well at last weekend's regional high school showcase in Missouri, Sandfort has landed offers from Iowa, Utah, Minnesota, Drake and Air Force. He's also hearing from Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UNI, Butler and Pepperdine.
In what's shaping up to be a deep class, I've got Sandfort at No. 9 in our initial in-state 2021 recruiting rankings. He's a 6-7 sharpshooter who can rebound well and, while he isn't yet an excellent defender, he works his butt off on that end. His body still has room to mature and, with that, he'll become more of an athlete.
He's earning high-major offers before I thought he would, which just goes to show how these coaches see great potential in him.
"He said he thought I was a good all-around player and a good teammate," Sandort told me of when Fran McCaffery called to offer.
DeVries, meanwhile, has picked up offers from South Dakota State, Drake and Air Force this week after a strong performance at the showcase in Missouri. He is also hearing from Iowa, Nebraska-Omaha and Kansas.
Yes, Kansas as in the Kansas Jayhawks.
Assistant coach Norm Roberts called him this week.
"He was basically just saying how, at my size and ability to shoot the ball, I could play anywhere," DeVries told me, "and (he) thought in a few years, there's a good chance I would be able to help them."
I've got DeVries one spot above Sandfort at No. 8 in the initial in-state 2021 rankings. He's a 6-6 wing with a college body and a college shot. I see his home as a 3-and-D wing, but like Roberts told him, his size and ability could project at multiple spots. His agility needs to improve, but he's an active rebounder with a 40-percent 3-point stroke.
Some other in-state 2021 prospects Iowa is talking to: No. 1 Chase Courbat (power forward, Cedar Falls), who will visit and camp at Stanford next week; No. 4 Karson Sharar (guard, Iowa Falls-Alden); No. 5 Michael Duax (wing, Dubuque Hempstead) and No. 6 Jadin Johnson (point guard, Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln).
Pick an ISU commit to play for Iowa and one for UNI. Pick an Iowa commit to play for ISU and one for UNI. Pick a UNI commit to play for ISU and one for Iowa. Who fits where and why? — @davidscrivner
David Scrivner is back with the Pulitzer-winning questions this week.
OK, starting with Iowa State:
- Coal Flansburg to Northern Iowa because his alma mater, Solon, is straight-up churning out Midwest FCS guys lately. His linebacker partner, Adam Bock, is up at South Dakota State. Solon quarterback Cam Miller just committed to North Dakota State, and receiver A.J. Coons just committed to SDSU. It'd be fun to see Flansburg battle his former teammates in the Missouri Valley.
- Darien Porter to Iowa because the Hawkeyes have notoriously struggled to land high-end receiver talent, and Porter was the best one in the state in 2019. I'd be intrigued to see if he — together with Oliver Martin — could change the offense.
Now, let's do Iowa:
- Josh Volk to Iowa State because that was close to happening. This was a true Iowa vs. Iowa State battle. I was told Volk was on campus in Ames for a visit about a week before his Iowa commitment. This was a meticulous, well-thought-out decision for the elite talent out of Cedar Rapids.
- Jack Campbell to UNI because it'd be fun to see him teaming up with fellow Cedar Falls product Logan Wolf. Campbell would dominate an FCS defense.
And now, UNI:
- Logan Wolf to Iowa for basically the same reason I picked Porter for Iowa. The Hawkeyes extended a late offer to Wolf to try to get him to flip from the Panthers, but Wolf wanted to play both basketball and football in college, and UNI offered him that option.
- Spencer Cuvelier to Iowa State because I thought the Iowa Central juco product was on the cusp of being an FBS-level prospect, and it would have been interesting to see if he earned snaps at the Power 5 level. I think he'll fare quite well at UNI.
Will TJ Bollers be a Hawk? — @1973Crouse
I think it's telling that, during such a busy time in Iowa recruiting, this was the first question I received for the mailbag. People care about Clear Creek Amana 2021 defensive end T.J. Bollers a whole lot.
Now, will he be a Hawkeye?
As I said on this week's recruiting bonus podcast with Chad Leistikow, Iowa is doing everything it needs to in order to be a major player for Bollers.
But only time will tell if that's enough. This is more about whether Iowa and Iowa State will be able to hold off schools from around the Midwest and around the country as they try to pluck the eastern Iowa gem.
The four-star Bollers picked up his 10th offer from Kansas State on Tuesday, wrapping up a busy June that included visits to Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Nebraska. He had originally planned to visit Iowa on June 23, but his baseball schedule prevented that from happening.
“(Ever since) fourth grade ... I’ve wanted to be a national-level recruit — I’ve wanted to be up in the rankings on the national level," Bollers told me in April. "I've started to expand out to the West Coast and I’ve expanded to the East Coast. It just lies on me now and how I keep up with this recruiting process and just how I keep working."
Before all is said and done, I wouldn't be surprised if Bollers tacks on offers from Notre Dame and Northwestern. He's also doing a West Coast visit tour in July, and don't be surprised if he adds offers from UCLA, Cal and Stanford.
This recruitment is far from over.
Thoughts on who we could get at D-tackle yet? — @ShankU4playing
Lewis Central product Logan Jones plays both defensive end and defensive tackle, and I actually think the best comparison for him is Tyler Linderbaum.
Hawkeye recruit Isaiah Bruce also has a frame that could do well in the interior.
So that's two guys from Iowa's current crop of six defensive linemen recruits who could logically fit at tackle. And depending on how players' bodies develop in the weight program, some guys currently deemed defensive ends could wind up as tackles, too.
What is the latest on PG Jalen Suggs and who is the favorite? Will Iowa be getting a visit? — @Dial54
Five-star Minnesota point guard Jalen Suggs recently told Adam Zagoria's Zagsblog that Gonzaga, Minnesota and Marquette were the frontrunners, and that schools such as Michigan, Iowa and Iowa State were also in the picture.
Iowa had an in-home visit with Suggs before the April live recruiting period, and I would not be completely floored if he gave the Hawkeyes an official visit because they have such a longstanding relationship.
Here's what he told me about Iowa in April:
"I’ve always known Coach Fran (McCaffery) since I've been real young. I know Pat (McCaffery), I know his sons. I've been down there a couple times, so I have a lot of great relationships down there. It's close to home. That's one where it really truly is a family feel, and I feel comfortable down there. … They’re in the mix."
With that said, Iowa and Iowa State fans shouldn't hold their breath on this one. I doubt Suggs winds up playing his college basketball (and perhaps football) in the state of Iowa.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.