Outlook on 2018 talent in Iowa: 'Looks like a good class'

Chris Cuellar

There’s no rest in college football recruiting.

Even though the fax machines haven’t even cooled down yet from 2017’s National Signing Day extravaganza, it’s time to turn our attention to the future.

Coaches and scouts have been following and offering Iowa’s class of 2018 for months, and the high school juniors are now on-deck.

“Even though it might seem like a step down from 2017, at this time last year nobody outside of Iowa City really knew Oliver Martin,” Midwest recruiting analyst Allen Trieu said.

“It still looks like a good class. Sometimes it just happens a little bit later for kids in Iowa.”

Here’s an early look at some of the state’s top prospects that you’ll probably hear quite a bit about before next year’s National Signing Day: Feb. 7, 2018.

Dowling defender (John Waggoner, 94) pursues Urbandale quarter back (George Reis, 10)

John Waggoner

Dowling Catholic

A prototypical 4-3 defense end, Waggoner had 27 tackles and eight sacks for the Class 4A champs as a junior. He’s 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds with an impressively athletic frame. Waggoner already holds Iowa and Iowa State offers and started 2017 at the U.S. Army All-American Combine.

“He’s got a very good chance to be the No. 1 guy in the state,” Trieu said.

Saybein Clark

Sioux City Heelan

Starting in the Class 3A state title game as a freshman is a pretty clear sign you can play. Clark is a 6-1, 195-pound athlete who has played running back and defensive back for the Crusaders. Like Waggoner, Iowa and Iowa State are the two early programs after his services.

“He’s the top skill guy in the state at this point,” Trieu said.

Creston junior offensive lineman Trevor Downing makes his presence known against Winterset at Winterset High School on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.

Trevor Downing


The task of upholding Iowa’s position as an offensive line paradise is being carried by this 6-4, 290-pound tackle. The lead blocker for record-breaking running back Chase Shiltz is a classic road-grader with room to grow. Downing picked up early offers from Iowa and Iowa State, but Minnesota and Missouri have thrown their hats in the ring as well.

Andrew Todd

Cedar Rapids Washington

Todd has been busy touring camps and campuses as a three-star offensive lineman. At 6-4, 270, he’s played predominantly on the left side and holds an early offer from Iowa State. Classmate and fellow lineman Nolan Potter is drawing looks as well.

Zach Ross

Dowling Catholic

The 6-3, 295-pound guard has an offer from Iowa State and could be a focal point of next season’s run game. Considered a three-star prospect.

Jaivonn Willis


An under-the-radar athlete from southeast Iowa, Willis is listed at 6-3 and 215 pounds and can play any skill position on the field. He spent most of his time on offense as a junior, starring at receiver (28 catches, 462 yards, 8 TD) when he wasn’t filling in at quarterback (397 yards and 5 TD passing, 306 yards and 4 TD rushing). Capable defensive back or linebacker is he keeps getting bigger.

Van Meter offensive guard Sean Boles helps create running room against Western Christian during the semifinals of the 2016 Iowa high school football tournament on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

Sean Boles

Van Meter

The younger brother of recent Stanford preferred walk-on Dylan, Sean is a 6-6, 290-pound offensive lineman. Penn, Yale and Dartmouth have offered as his recruitment appears to be trending like Dylan’s, with academics opening doors for athletics.

Best of the rest

If the 30-plus Division I scholarship commits in the class of 2017 are any indication, plenty more prospects from 2018 will emerge as the months go by. A handful of star quarterbacks could be versatile athletes at the next level: Mount Vernon’s Drew Adams, Iowa City West’s Evan Flitz, Des Moines Lincoln’s Will McElvain and Ames’s Joe Evans are potential risers. There will be many more names to come as the 2018 recruiting carousel is just starting to pick up steam.