This week was supposed to be a big recruiting period for the Iowa football program, with dozens of visitors expected for the Hawkeyes’ spring game originally scheduled for this weekend.
But despite the COVID-19 pandemic bringing traditional recruiting activities to a screeching halt, the Hawkeyes might have a big week anyway for their 2021 class.
Iowa on Wednesday picked up a commitment from Urbandale tight end/defensive end Max Llewellyn. The senior-to-be was considered a three-star prospect by Rivals and had 15 offers, including from Iowa State, Nebraska, Michigan State and Penn State.
Llewellyn is listed at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. The Hawkeyes see him as a defensive end at the next level. Certainly, replacing the losses of A.J. Epenesa (in this year’s draft) and Chauncey Golston (after the coming season, when it is played) as edge rushers is a near-future priority.
“Big, fast, PHYSICAL and a motor that won’t quit!” Iowa assistant defensive line coach (and lead in-state recruiter) Jay Niemann tweeted in general terms, not specifically naming Llewellyn. “GREAT addition to the DL group today!”
Llewellyn’s commitment brings the Hawkeyes Class of 2021 haul to 10 players, including seven from within Iowa borders. The other in-state commits: athletes Cooper DeJean of Ida Grove and Zach Twedt of Story City; defensive end Jeff Bowie of West Branch; defensive tackle Griffin Liddle of Bettendorf; offensive lineman Connor Colby of Cedar Rapids Kennedy; and linebacker Jaden Harrell, a longtime teammate of Llewellyn’s at Urbandale.
Those numbers are important for multiple reasons.
First, the in-state class for 2021 is historically good. And the Hawkeyes are showing they can clean up in Iowa. (The state’s top prospect, tight end Thomas Fidone of Council Bluffs, is undecided but considered a Nebraska lean.)
Second, the Hawkeyes’ fast start to the 2021 class — 10 is a big number for mid-April, especially during a pandemic — has been beneficial.
Tyler Barnes, Iowa’s director of recruiting, told the Register during an interview that was scheduled to air on KXnO (AM 1460, FM 106.3) in Des Moines on Wednesday that despite the pandemic, about 75% to 80% of players on the Hawkeyes’ recruiting board have already visited the campus.
That helps the program, Barnes said, to continue with a business-as-usual approach in an unusual time.
“To be able to start your class off that way before something like this takes place certainly helps,” Barnes said. “And then you don’t have to be as unsure, and you don’t have to offer guys that haven’t been on campus.
“We’re sticking with the guys that we feel comfortable with, the guys we have good relationships with, the coaches we have good relationships with. We’re going to work hard off that board, and we’re going to see where we go with those guys.”