'12 Early Look: Defense

With the 2011 signing day behind us, it's time to look ahead of some targets Iowa hopes to ink next February. We take a look at defensive prospects in this piece.

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.

You can view the offensive breakdown here.

Let's take a look at the early defensive targets:

Defensive Line - Iowa hopes to land some serious talent at this spot. The Hawkeyes are losing three starters from the 2010 roster and will say goodbye to two more after next season.

In the '12 class, they don't get any more popular than Harrisburg, PA's Noah Spence. Schools who have been drooling over this prospect for the last few years finally get to pick up the pursuit of this talented end.

In addition to the Hawkeyes, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and USC are among the schools that have come forward with scholarship offers. He'll receive more.

Another end high on the Iowa board is Lake Forest, IL big man Faith Ekakitie. He seems to be rising in popularity by the day and already holds offers from schools like Illinois, Northwestern, Stanford and Wisconsin. He missed Iowa's junior day last month because he had a basketball obligation.

Please take a look at some other ends on the Iowa radar.

Moving inside, Iowa (and everybody else) is working hard on DC tackle Eddie Goldman. Click on his name and scroll down to the bottom of his profile to see that he can have any pick in the litter of top programs.

The Hawkeyes are in early on Tommy Schutt from Glenbard (IL) West, the same school sending standout OG Jordan Walsh to Iowa City in the '11 class. The two are friends and that could help Iowa to land Schutt.

Rodney Coe, a '11 commitment from Edwardsville (IL), could help with a highly rated '12 prospect at his school. Vincent Valentine stands 6-4 and a shade under 300 pounds as a junior. He visited Iowa City for junior day.

Iowa also has offered Nebraska's Mike Shoff. He's 6-6, 290 and projects early on as a DT. The Hawkeyes were the first and still the only ones to offer.

The Hawkeyes also are pursuing Kansas City inside man Ondre Pipkins. He's yet to receive and offer but he was in town for junior day.

Here's a look at some other prospects in the defensive interior.

Linebacker - Iowa jumped in early on a couple of Detroit Cass Tech outside backers, Royce Jenkins-Stone and Laron Taylor. The duo visited Iowa for junior day and placed the Hawkeyes among their early leaders.

Wisconsin outside LB Vince Biegel also picked up an early Iowa offer. The Hawkeyes have to overcome the Badgers and his father's alma mater, BYU, in the process. He's a mormon.

Desoto (TX) High product Alexander Lyons received his first offer from Iowa. Competition for his services will be strong. Keep an eye on Pennsylvania's Mike Kinney and Florida's Eric Striker, who Iowa likes.

Here's a look at other outside men of interest.

On the inside, Iowa is going after some nice prospects. Quanzell Lambert of New Jersey (same high school as Quentin Alston) and Kansas City's Michael Rose hold offers. Rose is a Nebraska verbal but has opened up his recruitment and visited Iowa for junior day.

The Hawkeye also are high on a couple of inside men from St. Louis - Michael Scherer and Donavin Newsom. They're friends with Iowa wide receiver target Durron Neal and all have expressed interest in attending the same school. Missouri will be a major competitor for this trio.

Here's a closer look at the middle linebackers.

Cornerback - Iowa sits pretty well at this position compared to early on in the Coach Kirk Ferentz era. Still, you can never have enough players at this spot.

The Hawkeyes have served out two offers. Michigan residents Leviticus Payne and Terry Richardson (Cass Tech) have been given opportunities from Iowa.

Iowa offered Payne during last season and were the first school to step up. Richardson already has blown up on the recruiting trail with offers from such schools as Alabama, LSU, Michigan State and Pittsburgh.

A few more cover men in '12 on which to keep eye are Cleveland Glenville's Devan Bogard and Indianapolis Pike's Jonathan Reed, two schools Iowa knows well.

Here are some other corners on the Iowa radar.

Safety - Iowa could use some hap here and Riley Bullough of Michigan is at the top of the board so far. He is the only player at the position holding a Hawkeye offer.

Bullough's father played at Michigan State and his brother will be a sophomore there next year. The Spartans have offered Riley.

Okezie Alozie and Charles Webb are '12 safeties Iowa is observing.

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