On the day one Iowa offensive tackle was expected to become a first-round NFL Draft pick, another jumped aboard.
The Hawkeyes on Thursday morning landed a commitment from 6-foot-6, 305-pound offensive lineman Beau Stephens of Blue Springs, Missouri. That gives Iowa 11 known commitments to its Class of 2021.
Iowa offensive line coach Tim Polasek delivered a telling tweet Thursday morning, acknowledging the big day ahead for outgoing lineman Tristan Wirfs while noting that the "phone rings and the future gets better as well. Big get!" Stephens followed that up a few hours later with his official commitment notice on Twitter, saying that choosing Iowa was "an easy decision" despite more than a dozen major offers.
Wide receivers coach Kelton Copeland was Stephens' lead recruiter.
According to Rivals.com, Stephens is a three-star prospect and the No. 43-ranked offensive tackle in the country. Stephens was generating a lot of interest, including from Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in recent weeks. Michigan, LSU and Texas A&M were among the heavyweights that had extended offers to Stephens, according to Rivals. He also was considering Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
The fit seems to be a perfect one. Stephens is a weight-room fanatic, recently posting video clips of him bench-pressing three reps at 325 pounds and three squats at 410 pounds. Iowa has long been tied in with Stephens, offering him a scholarship in July before his junior season at Blue Springs High School.
During an appearance on the Register’s Hawk Central radio show on KXnO in Des Moines, Iowa director of recruiting Tyler Barnes said that offensive line was the top position-group target in the 2021 class. The Hawkeyes have now collected three hulking blockers in this class. Stephens joins Rivals four-star Connor Colby of Cedar Rapids Kennedy and three-star Gennings Dunker of Lena, Illinois.
Stephens is Iowa's third commitment since the COVID-19 pandemic hit America with full force in March, shutting down in-person recruiting for colleges. The Hawkeyes already had a strong head start on that class, and Barnes said that groundwork has helped Iowa continue the momentum. After Stephens' commitment, Rivals' team rankings for the Class of 2021 listed Iowa in 10th nationally.
"If this pandemic hit and we had only one or two guys committed, there might have been a little more panic set in, just because we might have felt like we were behind," Barnes said. "Certainly before the pandemic hit, we were quite a bit of ahead of where we were in years' past. I think a big part of that is the in-state talent and the talent regionally, and the number of times those guys have been on campus."
Iowa's recruiting Class of 2021*
DE Jeff Bowie, 6-5, 242, West Branch
OL Connor Colby, 6-6, 275, Cedar Rapids
S Cooper DeJean, 6-2, 198, Ida Grove
OL Gennings Dunker, 6-5, 280, Lena, Ill.
LB Jaden Harrell, 6-2, 220, Urbandale
DT Griffin Liddle, 6-3, 275, Bettendorf
DE Max Llewellyn, 6-5, 230, Urbandale
CB Jordan Oladokun, 5-11, 180, Tampa, Fla.
OL Beau Stephens, 6-6, 305, Blue Springs, Mo.
LB Justice Sullivan, 6-2, 225, Eden Prairie, Minn.
LB Zach Twedt, 6-3, 216, Story City
*—known commitments; sizes according to Rivals.com