'12 Early Look: Offense

With the 2011 signing day behind us, it's time to look ahead of some targets Iowa hopes to ink next February. First, we take a look at offensive prospects.

With the 2011 recruiting class in the fold, the Iowa coaches turn their attention to next year's seniors. Players from around the country already can claim scholarship offers from the school as the pursuit of prospects takes no breaks.

It's time then for us at Hawkeye Insider to turn the page and get familiar with the 2012 Iowa targets. The athletes already with offers are, for the most part, going to be highly sought after commodities.

I'll break this analysis into two stories - one offense, the other defense. For those of you new to the site or just getting into recruiting, you can click on player's name in these pieces and it will bring up his profile. Once there, you can see stories on him, offers he holds and schools of interest. As we move along, there will be film, photos and a lot more from Hawkeye Insider and around the Scout.com network.

You can bookmark the recruits in which you're most interested and follow their process. You also can view the proceedings by position and see new offers if you click on the football recruiting menu and hit up the prospects tab.

OK, let's take a look at the early offensive targets:

Quarterback - Iowa needs at least one scholarship player here in '12 with only four guys on rides for next season. Two of them - James Vandenberg and John Wienke - will be redshirt juniors in the fall. Next year's group of signal calling prospects much stronger nationally than was the '11 class.

The Hawkeye coaches handed out early offers to two gunslingers - Zeke Pike and Gunner Kiel. They're already two of the highest rated players at their position for '12 and are physically impressive, pro-style signal callers.

Pike unofficially visited Iowa twice last year, once in the summer and for a home game at Kinnick Stadium. Kiel came through Iowa City in June.

Robert Gregory from Chicago Simeon is waiting for an Iowa offer after visiting on junior day in January. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder is positioned to be one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in his class.

Detroit Crockett Quarterback Brian Blackburn (6-6, 215) visited Iowa City last September for the Hawkeyes contest with rival Iowa State. He played last season with former Iowa WR target Ashton Gaines.

Here are some other '12 QBs on Iowa's radar.

Running Back - Iowa signed six players at this position in the last two classes. Normally, that would have meant '12 running backs weren't much of a need.

That's not the case for the Hawkeyes, who lost three scholarship backs from the program since the season ended. While not has big of a need spot next year as it was this year, it's still a need. There's a high rate of attrition at the position and Iowa relies greatly on the running game.

There are five known Iowa offers out to running backs in '12 and two - Warren Ball and Malin Jones - have verbal committed to Ohio State and Northwestern, respectively. The Hawkeyes likely will face tough competition for the others - Cyrus Jones, Dami Ayoola and Vonte Jackson.

It will be interesting to see how Iowa's running backs perform this season. If Insight Bowl MVP Marcus Coker continues from where he left off and one or two of the incoming freshmen impact the team, that could scare off the big names on Iowa's board. Or, it could attract them.

Here's a look at other '12 RBs with Iowa interest.

Wide Receiver - Iowa needs to connect on some hits at the position. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney are gone from the '10 team and Marvin McNutt will be done after next season. That's a lot of production and the Hawkeyes are bringing in only two receivers - Marcus Grant and Jacob Hillyer - in '11 and after only grabbing Kevonte Martin-Manley in the last class.

A key target for '12 is two hours west of Iowa City in West Des Moines Dowling's Amara Darboh. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder already holds offers from Iowa, Notre Dame, and Iowa Stare. Many more of them should follow.

Iowa definitely sits well with Darboh, who has been to the school quite a few times. They also offered him first.

Springfield, MO's Dorial Green Beckham is regarded by scout as the top wide receiver among Iowa offers. He holds offers from Alabama, Florida, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC, among others.

The Iowa coaches really like Durron Neal of St. Louis. The Hawkeyes sit well with him after offering him as a sophomore. He's familiar with Iowa City having camped there and taken in a game last fall.

Dallas Skyline High's Thomas Johnson ranks high on the Hawkeye board. The competition will be stiff with Auburn, Miami, Texas A&M and USC among those programs that have already offered.

Jordan Westerkamp from Illinois' Montini Catholic holds an Iowa offer. Boston College, Illinois and Northwestern are among the other schools to have extended opportunities to the The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder.

Iowa and home state Minnesota have offered Minnetonka's Andre McDonald. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder visited Iowa with teammate Tavaughn Blair for junior day last month.

Here's a look some other receivers .

Tight End - Iowa hasn't offered any players at this position, according to the Scout.com data base. Having signed some of the nation's top players at the position the last few years, it's not a priority going into the '12 class.

That doesn't mean the Hawkeyes won't pursue a top player or two at this spot, however. But with limited scholarships available, it will have to be a real good fit.

Here' are a group of TEs on the Hawkeye radar so far.

Offensive Line - A couple tackles in '12 would make the coaches happy. They'd like to match them up with inside men Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh, who signed in '11.

Jordan Diamond from Simeon and Blue Earth, MN's Jonah Pirsig sit atop the Iowa board right now. To give you an idea of the competition for these two standouts - they each hold offers from Ohio State.

The Hawkeyes seem to be in good standing with Diamond and Pirsig. Both players have visited Iowa City.

Take a look at some other OTs with Iowa interest.

Iowa has a good relationship with the folks at (Avon (IN) High. The school boasts a good '12 guard in Josh Smith. He doesn't yet hold a Hawkeye offer, but visited the school for junior day and an opportunity with the program could be imminent.

A pair of guys projected by Scout.com as centers hold Iowa offers - Evan Boehm and Ty Darlington. They also could find homes at guard in college.

Boehm has taken an unofficial visit to Iowa and already has received opportunities from schools like Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Florida State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Auburn the programs that have stepped up for Darlington.

Here's an early list of other interior guys with an eye on the Hawks.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories