Recruiting mailbag: Will Iowa football add another Northern Illinois transfer?
Hello, everyone. Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.
In case you missed it: Sergeant Bluff-Luton linebacker Jacob Imming, a three-star prospect we've got ranked No. 6 in the in-state 2022 recruiting rankings, announced his commitment to Iowa State on Thursday. He also held offers from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas State.
Imming is a big deal for the Cyclones. He's the first Iowan to commit to Iowa State over an offer from Iowa since Trevor Downing in the 2018 class; all in-state Cyclones signees since then didn't hold an offer from the Hawkeyes.
So, is Imming a sign of changing times? Is Matt Campbell's success in Ames, shown by his team's emphatic Fiesta Bowl win, making a mark on in-state talent? Or was this a case of a Cyclone fan becoming a Cyclone? (Imming has alumni in his family.)
Time will tell.
For now, let's get to this week's questions, which focus on Iowa's activity in the NCAA transfer portal, a rising in-state 2022 basketball prospect not named Tamin Lipsey and some thoughts on Waukee's Omaha Biliew.
Who could Iowa land in the transfer portal at RB or DT?
The name I'd keep the closest eye on is Weston Kramer, a defensive tackle graduate transfer out of Northern Illinois. The three-year starter entered the NCAA transfer portal a couple weeks ago, and the Hawkeyes have been in contact.
Kramer, who is 6-foot-1 and 290 pounds, told 247Sports he has also heard from Northwestern and West Virginia. He has offers from North Dakota State and Ball State.
Iowa has made a recent habit of adding transfers from Northern Illinois, landing Huskies defensive linemen Jack Heflin and Matt Lorbeck last offseason.
Kramer, a former two-star prospect out of the Chicago suburbs, logged 17 tackles, three solo tackles for loss and a solo sack in six games last fall. He played in eight games as a freshman and was a starter for his final three seasons at NIU.
Iowa has also previously been tied to Northwestern graduate transfer defensive end Andrew Leota, who is seen as arguably the top defensive end in the portal.
In terms of running backs, Iowa is mostly looking at the high school ranks right now.
Since losing out on Arizona three-star recruit Eli Sanders to Iowa State, the Hawkeyes have put more focus on their two recent running back offers: three-star Louisiana-Lafayette recruit Kendrell Williams and Mississippi three-star prospect Jarquez Hunter.
Is Josh Dix getting high-major looks now?
And mid-major coaches, obviously, are not thrilled.
Josh Dix is a long, 6-4 shooting guard out of Council Bluffs Lincoln who can shoot better than 40% from outside, can rebound and dribble and can show off some deceptively good athleticism. I've got him ranked No. 2 in the in-state 2022 recruiting rankings, behind only Ames point guard Tamin Lipsey.
Until recently, Dix was a mid-major guy. He holds offers from Colorado State, Drake, Northern Iowa, Missouri-Kansas City and South Dakota State. But mid-major coaches I talk to were always weary he'd eventually play his way onto high-majors' radars.
And he has.
A source with direct knowledge of Iowa State recruitment told me the Cyclones' full coaching staff conducted a virtual visit with Dix on Thursday night, and I'm told it went well. Dix has previously told me Iowa and Creighton are showing interest, too.
Iowa State coaches started to really like Dix in late November when they watched his film. Since then, Dix has averaged 21.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 56.8% or 43.5% on 3s for Lincoln.
His team is undefeated against Iowa schools, and in an 85-78 loss to nationally ranked Millard North (Nebraska), he racked up 32 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks on 10-for-17 shooting (5-for-8 from 3-point territory).
Is there a chance on this earth Fran McCaffery finds a way to keep Omaha Biliew in state?
I answered a question similar to this a couple weeks ago, and since then, I reported that Waukee five-star sophomore combo forward Omaha Biliew picked up an offer from Kansas. He now holds offers from the Jayhawks, Georgia, Arkansas, Iowa, Western Kentucky, Illinois, Nebraska and Michigan. His offer sheet will only grow when he plays with AAU juggernaut MOKAN Elite this spring and summer.
A couple new schools to watch: Miami and Baylor, who both reached out regarding Biliew last week, his trainer, Tyler Sass, told me.
My answer now is the same as it was then: Biliew and those around him are going to make the decision most likely to get him picked early in the NBA draft.
By the time the 2023 class graduates, players may be able to go straight from high school to the NBA again, and we shouldn't rule that out as a possibility for a consensus top-five prospect. But college is also a very likely option.
Should he take that route, everything I'm hearing suggests Biliew will choose the college with a coach who boasts a strong track record of producing first-round draft picks.
Unless Fran McCaffery and Iowa churn out a couple of first-round draft picks over the next two seasons, I'm not sure I'd put the Hawkeyes in the driver's seat here. Iowa State has not yet reached out to Biliew’s camp, but it is well-aware of him.
Through Waukee's 5-1 start, Biliew is averaging 12 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting 63.2% from the field.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.