Clear Creek Amana 2021 defensive end T.J. Bollers discusses the latest in his recruitment, which has reached new heights. Matthew Bain, firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.
As always, you can send me questions on Twitter at @MatthewBain_. My DMs are open. You can email me at email@example.com. Or just shout very loudly from across the street if you ever see me out and about.
On to the good stuff.
Best under-the-radar recruit left in Iowa? — @Hawkfan7314
This is a great question.
For football: The cat's out of the bag with Ankeny Centennial 2020 offensive lineman Brady Petersen and North Scott 2020 offensive lineman Jackson Stoefen by now.
So let's go with Durant 2020 offensive lineman Joe Lilienthal, or "Big Joe." South Dakota gave him his first Division I offer a few weeks ago. I watched him in one-on-one drills last Saturday, and I'm not sure I've seen a larger high school human being.
(Including Tristan Wirfs.)
Lilienthal checks in at 6-foot-7 and about 335 pounds. His skills need work, but you can't teach size. He's just so big and so raw. There will be college coaches who see him and think, I can mold him into a beast.
Another name to monitor: Bettendorf 2020 receiver/tight end Noah Abbott. He's also a you-can't-teach-size example, checking in at 6-5 and 210 pounds. Abbott caught 18 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns as a junior. High school teammates with Cyclones signee Darien Porter, Abbott has visited Ames a couple times, most recently taking in Iowa State's spring practice last week.
In 2021, keep an eye on West Branch defensive end Jeff Bowie. The 6-4, 225-pounder just picked up his first offer from Northern Illinois. Bowie has always been a rockstar in the weight room. In August, I wrote that he needed to showcase that athleticism on the field. He started to do that as a sophomore, and it should only get better next fall.
Now, for basketball: I'm excited to see what happens with Central City junior Nick Reid this spring and summer. The 6-6 guard/wing didn't have much recruiting steam entering the season, but leading the state with 32.5 points per game helped change that.
Reid holds a Division II offer from Truman State right now, but he's got the length and shooting ability to play on a low-major D-I roster.
Have you heard anything about Iowa State offering Chubba Purdy? — @WideRtNattyLt
Several Cyclones fans have asked this over the past few weeks.
If you didn't know, Brock Purdy has a younger brother named Chubba Purdy. He's a 6-2, 195-pound dual-threat 2020 quarterback at Perry High in Gilbert, Arizona. His stock has surged over the past year. 247Sports gives him four stars and ranks him No. 249 in the class, and he's recently added Kansas and Louisville offers.
Back in October, when he was first garnering some legitimate attention, Chubba told me he hadn't heard from Iowa State.
I asked again Tuesday if the Cyclones had reached out since his rise up the recruiting rankings. He said no.
That's nothing against Chubba. More likely, it shows that Iowa State is currently planning to sign one quarterback in its 2020 class, and it's happy with Minnesota three-star lefty Aidan Bouman — whom 247Sports ranks the class' No. 404 prospect.
We'll see if any potential attrition changes things down the road, but that appears to be where we're at right now.
In your opinion is Iowa the favorite (for T.J. Bollers)? — @crandall_tyson
No. I don't think there is a favorite at this point.
It feels like Bollers, a newly minted four-star 2021 defensive end out of Clear Creek Amana, is just beginning his recruitment. Michigan became his seventh offer Tuesday, the same day 247Sports assigned him four stars and ranked him the No. 207 prospect in 2021. Beyond his six other offers, there are plenty more schools interested in the 6-4, 240-pounder, who hopes to become this state's next national-level recruit with choices from around the country.
His family is on the same page.
"From a dad’s perspective, it’s really exciting to see him get options," Bollers' father, Trevor Bollers, told me last Saturday. "That has always been the key."
Yes, Iowa is positioned well. T.J. Bollers is a Hawkeye legacy, as Trevor played for Iowa in the late 1990s. He lives in Tiffin, which practically sits in Kinnick Stadium's backyard.
Iowa State should feel good about where it stands, too. The Cyclones were Bollers' first offer in January of his freshman year. He plans to visit Ames again this month.
If you asked today, I don't know how much stock I'd put in him staying in Iowa. There's certainly a good chance, but the Wolverines offer is big. They've been aware of Bollers since middle school, as safeties coach/special teams coordinator Chris Partridge knows Bollers' strength coach, JC Moreau. The California interest from Stanford, USC, UCLA and Cal — four high-quality academic institutions — has been intriguing, too.
As we've discussed before, Bollers is smart. Like, really smart. His dad said he's considering mechanical, civil or biomedical engineering for his major. If Stanford offers, that would be hard to turn down. That's a big if, though, because Stanford is probably college football's hardest offer to get.
With the loss of Talen Horton-Tucker and Lindell Wigginton, any word on pursuing more guys for the (2019) class or some potential grad transfers? — @LaneSundberg
Iowa State is looking at both high school seniors and transfers to fill its open 2019 scholarships, and it could have as many as three if Talen Horton-Tucker decides to remain in the NBA Draft pool.
The high school options to watch are French three-star combo guard Clarence Nadolny and three-star Wichita shooting guard Caleb Grill.
Nadolny is considering the Cyclones alongside Texas Tech and West Virginia, and he's expected to begin his official visits before long.
Grill, a former South Dakota State recruit, got his Iowa State offer during an unofficial visit last Tuesday. Creighton and Kansas State have also recently offered, and Illinois is interested. UNLV, where former SDSU coach T.J. Otzelberger now coaches, is also in the picture. Grill told me he's hoping to set up another trip to Ames, among several other visits he's also trying to schedule.
In terms of transfers, these are some names the Cyclones have been connected to:
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein reported Tuesday that Duquesne sit-out transfer Eric Williams has heard from Iowa State. Williams, a 6-6 sophomore, averaged 14 points and 7.6 rebounds last season.
Troy sit-out transfer Javan Johnson told me he plans to officially visit Ames May 2-4, confirming what he told On the Radar Hoops owner Shun Williams and 247Sports' Alex Halsted. Johnson, a 6-7 sophomore, averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 boards last season.
Williams also reported last Monday that Jacksonville sit-out transfer JD Notae had heard from Iowa State. I reached out to confirm but haven't heard back. Notae, a 6-2 sophomore, averaged 15.5 points and 3.4 assists last season.
I also wouldn't be surprised if the Cyclones reached out at some point to South Dakota State sit-out transfer David Jenkins Jr., a sophomore guard who averaged 19.7 points and 3.4 rebounds last season. Although, he's one of the country's most sought-after transfers right now, and competition will be fierce for anyone getting involved.
Was this season good enough to improve the Hawks' standing with any prospects? — @racecarpassenger
It can't hurt.
This isn't complicated: The country's top-tier recruits want to play for winning programs.
Iowa wound up with a solid 2019 recruiting class (that may or may not add at least one more piece), but it wasn't easy. The team's poor 2017-18 season hurt it with some of its elite targets, including D.J. Carton and Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Now, with a much improved 2018-19 season, the Hawkeyes will be in a better position for their top 2020 targets — some of which are considered elite, such as Oskaloosa's Xavier Foster and Minnesota product Dawson Garcia.
Another reason to be encouraged if you're an Iowa fan? Not only was this season better, but next year looks like it could be pretty good, too. Joe Lunardi just pegged Iowa as a No. 3 seed in his way-too-early 2019-2020 bracketology.
Prospects read ESPN, too. They pay attention to that type of stuff.
And all of that can help Iowa get in the door.
But that's just the start. Of course, one good season doesn't guarantee a strong 2020 class. Fran McCaffery and his staff will still need to close the deals.
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_.