Markel Smith a Hawk

Markel Smith pledged to Iowa Tuesday night, giving the Hawkeyes their second running back pledge in the 2014 Class.

In the end, it came down to where Markel Smith felt most wanted. That place turned out to be Iowa.

"I talk to the coaches all of the time and they care about me more as a person than as a football player," Smith said. "That means a lot."

Smith originally verballed to home-state Missouri before reopening his recruitment. rated him as a four-star prospect and the No. 21 running back in the country.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Smith verbally committed to Missouri last November. The Kirkwood St. John Vianney decided to look around in April.

Smith said at that time he was going to take his time with the process and take official visits before pledging again.

"I didn't get a chance to (officially) visit Iowa yet because of football season but I have been there multiple times and know what it's all about," Smith said. "I'm very comfortable there."

Smith said he'd likely take his Hawkeye official visit on Nov. 23 when Iowa plays host to Michigan.

Smith said that Iowa's reputation as a school that develops and utilizes running backs helped his decision.

"It's like a wide receiver going to a school that throws the ball all of the time," he said. "Iowa has a great history with running backs. I wanted to be a part of that."

The Hawkeyes currently are using four running backs, all of whom will be back on the roster when Smith arrives next fall.

"That really didn't matter to me," he said. "It's not about what they do, it's about what you do. No matter who is there, you work as hard as you can to be the best you can be."

Iowa Assistant Eric Johnson recruits the St. Louis area for the school.

"He's just a great guy," Smith said. "He checks in with me all of the time to see how me and my family are going. It's not just about football with him. He cares about my family."

The Smith pledge brings the number of known verbal commitments in Iowa's 2014 recruiting class to 16 members. Coach Kirk Ferentz is estimating that the final number will be around 20.

Signing day for binding national letters of intent is Feb. 5.

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