Iowa football recruiting: Matt Bain's analysis on the Hawkeyes' signing class

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

The early signing period is here, and Iowa signed a strong 2020 recruiting class.

Specifically, according to the 247Sports Composite, the Hawkeyes' group of 2020 signees ranks 31st in the country and eighth in the Big Ten. Rankings will shift as prospects make their decisions in the coming days and months, but Iowa could wind up with a top-35 class.

Here are some thoughts on that class, which is shaping up to be one of the better hauls in Kirk Ferentz's tenure:

(These will be updated throughout the day.)

First, a look at Iowa's in-state recruits

The Hawkeyes signed four in-state scholarship products on Wednesday:

  • Josh Volk, OL, Cedar Rapids Xavier — Even in a senior season that started late due to ACL surgery, Volk, the Register's No. 2 in-state senior prospect, still made Class 3A All-Iowa team. He's a rock-solid, sturdy-yet-nimble 290-pounder whose ceiling is high in Iowa City.
  • Logan Jones, DL, Lewis Central — The Register's No. 3 senior, Jones is a high-motor, plug-and-play lineman who can do just about everything. In fact, he made the All-Iowa Elite Team as an offensive lineman. Iowa recruited him on defense, and with some time in Chris Doyle's strength program, Jones could be special.
  • Gavin Williams, RB, Dowling Catholic — Williams, the Register's No. 5 senior, had an excellent final season as a Maroon. He played his best football at the UNI Dome and he earned one of two running back spots on the All-Iowa Elite Team.
  • Ethan Hurkett, LB, Cedar Rapids Xavier — The Register's No. 8 senior, Hurkett was an über-productive high school linebacker and he earned All-Iowa Class 3A team honors after piling up 70 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss this season.
Cedar Rapids Xavier's Josh Volk (73) is expected to sign with Iowa on Wednesday.

Video game numbers from incoming linebacker

Jay Higgins, Iowa's future linebacker out of Brebeuf Jesuit in Indianapolis, was under the radar at the time he committed to the Hawkeyes in June. Iowa was his only Power Five offer, beating the likes of Air Force, Ball State and Central Michigan.

Now, Higgins is looking like a steal.

According to MaxPreps, Higgins piled up 151 tackles as a senior, including eight tackles for loss. That season concluded a prolific high school career, which featured 131 tackles as a junior and 145 more as a sophomore.

Brebeuf Jesuit's Jay Higgins is expected to sign with Iowa on Wednesday.

With productivity like that in a talented area, plus a 6-2, 215-pound frame, Higgins just feels like that type of underrated Iowa linebacker who finds success in Iowa City.

Surprise: The Hawkeyes did well at tight end

Although Iowa missed on its top tight end target — and potentially its top overall target — in top-100 tight end Theo Johnston, it still signed two high-level recruits at that position on Wednesday.

Three-star Ohio tight end Luke Lachey feels like a star in the making. He picked the Hawkeyes over Michigan State and others in July and then had a stellar senior season, surging all the way up to No. 126 in 247Sports' national rankings. He's also a great basketball player, and the highlights of some of his dunks are impressive.

In other words: There's some Noah Fant athleticism here.

Iowa's other tight end recruit, three-star Dallas product Elijah Yelverton, boasted an eye-popping offer sheet that included Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Oregon, among others. The 6-5, 225-pounder played for Trinity Christian in the talent-rich Dallas metro area.

Remember last year, when we said Tyler Goodson was college-ready because of the level of competition he played every week in the Atlanta metro area? The same can be said here for Yelverton.

Quarterback of the future?

Speaking of Dallas ... that's where Iowa's 2020 quarterback recruit is from.

Deuce Hogan, a three-star signal-caller out of Faith Christian, was one of Iowa's first 2020 recruits in June 2018, and he stuck with the Hawkeyes even as Georgia and Tennessee came calling.

With a high-level arm and solid 6-4, 200-pound frame, Hogan is already generating buzz as a freshman who could make some noise in Iowa's quarterback room right away.

It's a little too early to say that with any level of confidence. But, without Nate Stanley, there is no crystal-clear starter next year. It may be fair to say Spencer Petras, Peyton Mansell, Alex Padilla and Hogan all have a shot.

Small-town products headed to Iowa

Ferentz continues to find future Hawkeyes in the tiniest of towns.

In 2020, he's adding a couple from neighboring Illinois: three-star offensive lineman Tyler Elsbury of Byron, Illinois (population: 3,608); and three-star defensive tackle Isaiah Bruce of Lena, Illinois (population: 2,750).

Side note: Those towns seem massive in comparison to where Iowa's lone 2022 recruit, defensive end Aaron Graves, plays — Gowrie, Iowa (population: 979).

Derrick Foster keeps doing good work down in the South

For the third consecutive year, the Hawkeyes will add a prospect from Alabama or Georgia. This time it's three-star Alabama safety Reggie Bracy, who comes from powerhouse St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile. He picked Iowa over Indiana, as well as offers from Troy, South Alabama and UAB.

Since adding the Alabama native Foster to its coaching staff in January 2018, Iowa has landed Georgia three-star linebacker Jayden McDonald (a 2018 signee who has since transferred), Georgia three-star running back Tyler Goodson (2019), Alabama three-star running back Shadrick Byrd (2019) and now Bracy.

Miniature pipeline in the Sunshine State?

Speaking of pipelines ... Iowa may have something brewing at Largo High down in Largo, Florida. It is expecting to sign two products of that high school in three-star defensive back Keylen Gulley and three-star receiver Quavon Matthews; Gulley signed on Wednesday, Matthews hasn't signed yet.

In the 2018 class, Largo three-star receiver Calvin Lockett picked the Hawkeyes.

It certainly helps Iowa's cause that former Hawkeye safety Marcus Paschal is Largo's head football coach.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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