Breaking Down '14 Class: Defense

After years of recruiting its members, the Iowa coaches are ready to welcome in their recruiting class of 2014. Hawkeye Insider Publisher Rob Howe takes a look at the players being brought in on defense, offering analysis, game film and comps to current and past Hawkeyes.

Breaking Down '14 Class: Offense

Grimm Headed to Iowa

After loading up with wide receivers and running backs last year, the Iowa coaches are addressing the other side of the ball in the 2014 recruiting class. Thirteen of the 21 known verbal commitments are expected to join the program on defense.

The approach makes sense when you consider that the Hawkeyes graduated all three starting linebackers, two defensive backs and starting end, Dominic Alvis. Opportunities exist for early playing time on the second and third levels.

Here's a closer look at newest Hawkeyes on defense:

2014 Iowa Recruits: Defense
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
High School: Xavier
Size: 6-8/240
National Position Ranking: 42
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Stock rose dramatically beginning at around this time last year. San Diego State jumped in out of nowhere and the big boys, including Iowa, followed. Florida State, Arkansas and Wisconsin threw their hats in the ring, but the Hawkeyes, Notre Dame and Stanford were the finalists. After visiting each school at least once, Nelson decided to stay close to home.
Hawkeye Comp: Kenny Iwebema
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Nelson offers excellent athleticism from the edge. Like others in this class, he's an accomplished basketball player and boasts quick feet. I was fortunate enough to watch him play live three times this season. He's raw but possesses natural ability that can be molded by Iowa defensive line coach Reese Morgan. Nelson relied heavily on a swim move to pressure high school quarterbacks and will have to add to his repertoire to get past blockers at the next level. If things don't work out at D-End, Nelson's frame lends intrigue to him moving to offensive tackle.
Location: Paramus, NJ
High School: Paramus Catholic
Size: 6-3/250
National Position Ranking: 114
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Iowa moved early on Harris, offering him a scholarship in May. He accepted it two months later. At the time, he held opportunities from Florida Atlantic, Massachusetts and Western Michigan. Indiana, NC State, Rutgers and Temple were among schools showing interest.
Hawkeye Comp: Bryan Mattison
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Harris played on a loaded Paramus Catholic team that featured one of the top recruits in the country, Jabril Peppers, and plenty of other high-level FBS prospects. They overshadowed Harris at times but he brings a lot to the table. Harris shows the ability to get into the offensive backfield in quick bursts but reads the short passing game well and his quick enough to drop back and make tackles. He'll need some development but has nice upside. Could end up at tackle depending on how he matures physically.
DE Torey Hendrick
Location: Brooklyn, NY
High School: ASA - College of Excellence
Size: 6-4/230
National Position Ranking: NA
Stars (5-Star Scale): 4
Recruitment: Hendrick got caught up in the NCAA red tape for not having enough credit hours in the fall to take official visits. Despite that setback, Iowa stuck with the talented New Jersey native who rewarded it with a verbal commitment last week. Arizona State, Kansas State and NC State made a strong push for Hendrick but he had trimmed things down to the Hawkeyes and Mississippi State.
Hawkeye Comp: Howard Hodges
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Provided he ties up his loose ends academically, Hendrick can immediately impact Iowa. He's physically ready for Big Ten football. You can see why the Hawkeyes like Hendrick. He understands how to play the position. He stays in his lane, contains and makes plays within the structure of the defense. He's very explosive when the play comes his way or he's assigned to apply pressure from the backside.
Location: Somerset, NJ
High School:Franklin
Size: 6-3/225
National Position Ranking: 132 (DE)
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Outsey, like a few other East Coast recruits in this class, committed to Iowa before visiting the school. He reported scholarship offers from Pittsburgh, Temple, Akron and Buffalo, at the time, and Michigan State offered and tried to flip him later in the process.
Hawkeye Comp: Reggie Spearman
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Outsey is graded by Scout.com as a defensive end and that's where he could end up with Iowa. He's being brought in as an outside linebacker and also has flashed at tight end. One thing is for sure, he's a very good athlete with versatility. Outsey played standing up and with his hand down in high school and made tackles in space. Whether or not he can cover receivers or tight ends will determine if he's on the line or at linebacker.
Location: Sycamore, IL
High School:Sycamore
Size: 6-3/200
National Position Ranking: 81
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment:Committed to Northern Illinois as a receiver before camping at Iowa in June and earning a scholarship offer. His father is the Huskies defensive coordinator and an Iowa native. After thinking it over for about a month, Ben Niemann flipped his commitment to the Hawkeyes in late July.
Hawkeye Comp: Christian Kirksey
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Niemann produced at a high level as a prep receiver, picking up an offer from NIU. Then, he showed the Hawkeye coaches his skills at linebacker and earned a scholarship on the spot at camp. Keeping with the theme of this class and the last several groups at Iowa, Neimann offers athleticism in a versatile package. His sure hands should help him in coverage where he could line up at the LEO or WIL for the Hawkeyes.
OLB Aaron Mends
Location: Kansas City, MO
High School:Winnetonka
Size: 6-0/200
National Position Ranking: 103
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Like Niemann, Mends earned his Iowa offer during June camp at the school. Iowa State jumped in with an offer as well and gave the KC athlete something to think about. He chose Iowa in mid-August while schools like Illinois, Kansas State Michigan State, Missouri and Nebraska were showing him interest.
Hawkeye Comp: Anthony Hitchens
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Sharing something else in common with Niemann, Mends excelled on offense in high school. He bulled through the opposition as a running back. He'll be best suited for the weak-side linebacker spot in Iowa's 4-3 where he can use his speed in space. He's quick enough to cover receivers and possesses the power to get off blocks and stop the run.
Location: Waukon, IA
High School:Waukon
Size: 6-3/208
National Position Ranking: 110
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Hesse appeared on Iowa's radar throughout the recruiting process and showed with a strong senior campaign that he was worthy of a scholarship offer. Hesse held offers from Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and Western Illinois at the time of his late November commitment when he was receiving interest from Iowa State, Minnsota and Northern Illinois.
Hawkeye Comp: A.J. Edds
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: The FCS schools were looking at Hesse as a quarterback, which speaks to his athleticism. I saw him play live twice this season and the "ah-ha" moment for me came when he ran 25 yards downfield with a wide receiver and defended the pass. Hesse is suited for the LEO linebacker spot where he can play over the tight end. He lined up at end for Waukon and can create havoc on the blitz with his combination of size and speed.
Location: Washington, DC
High School:St. Johns College
Size: 5-10/180
National Position Ranking: 51
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Truitt was Iowa's first out-of-state pledge in this class, jumping on board in early June. Shortly after that, Tennessee offered him and he let the Hawkeye coaches know he'd be visiting Knoxville. Despite offers and the best efforts of the Vols, Maryland and Syracuse, Truitt stuck with his first instinct and will sign with Iowa.
Hawkeye Comp: Shaun Prater
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Like Prater, while vertically challenged, Truitt understands how to play corner. He shows great instincts, good hips and closes on the ball well. Truitt is a strong tackler and has excellent speed in the open field. He's a natural in the return game and could end up helping the Hawkeyes in that area as well.
CB Joshua Jackson
Location: Lake Dallas, TX
High School:Lake Dallas
Size: 5-10/180
National Position Ranking: 101
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Jackson was overshadowed in a talent-rich state. Iowa benefited by offering him early and securing his verbal commitment in the late summer. TCU continued recruiting Jackson throughout his senior season and tried to get him to visit the school. Washington State and Nevada also offered Jackson and Colorado was showing him interest.
Hawkeye Comp: Marcus Paschal
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Jackson is a long, rangy athlete that looks a lot like Ruben Lile on film. Like Lile, Jackson makes plays on both sides of the ball in high school and could end up at corner, wide receiver or even grow into a safety. Jackson makes people miss in the open field and is football fast. Jackson is better prepared to play receiver coming into college and will need more seasoning if he ends up on defense.
CB Marcel Jolly
Location: Forestville, MD
High School:Forestville
Size: 5-11/190
National Position Ranking: 148
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Joly official visited Iowa in September and enjoyed it so much that he committed on that trip. He reported offers from Maryland, Temple and Vanderbilt at the time of his Hawkeye pledge and Virginia also was showing him interest.
Hawkeye Comp: Jovon Johnson
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Joly delivered on offense as a running back, defense as a member of the secondary and on special teams as a punt and kick returner. He displays excellent acceleration through the hole and into the open field and an ability to make people miss. He'll need some development if he stays at corner but already shows he can deliver a hit and wraps well on tackles. Could end up at safety.
Location: Detroit, MI
High School:King
Size: 5-11/180
National Position Ranking: 59
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Embry trimmed his choices down to Iowa and Wisconsin. He chose the Hawkeyes after his official visit in early October, never making it to Madison. Most of the MAC schools also offered Embry while Indiana and Cincinnati showed him interest.
Hawkeye Comp: Desmond King
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Iowa struck gold in its last recruiting class by pulling Desmond King out of the same program. Embry brings to mind his former and future teammate as a physical corner with excellent hip action. Embry plays with an edge and knows how to wrap up on a tackle. He's often in the area of the football and possesses solid recovery speed. Candidate to play early.
Location: Washington, DC
High School:Gonzaga College
Size: 6-0/185
National Position Ranking: 121
Stars (5-Star Scale): 3
Recruitment: Taylor committed to Georgia Tech and stuck with it until a few weeks ago when he officially visited Iowa and flipped on the trip. Taylor also reported offers from UMass and Temple while Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest were among the schools showing him interest.
Hawkeye Comp: Tyler Sash
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Taylor is on the short side for a safety but he is well put together and uses every bit of his body to deliver punishing hits. His high school coaches moved him all over the field even utilizing him with his hand on the ground to rush the passer. He shows good speed, hands, recovery ability and can close on the ball. He plays well in space and could see early time as a special teams asset.
Location: Torrance, CA
High School:El Camino JC
Size: 6-2/225
National Position Ranking: NA
Stars (5-Star Scale): 2
Recruitment: Kidd was home in Florida early last month, ready to enroll at Florida International and become their scholarship punter. Before he could do it, Iowa swooped in with an offer and flipped him over to the Hawkeyes. He also reported scholarship offers from Penn State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State and had a preferred walk-on opportunity at Miami, where his brother, Garrett Kidd, is a walk-on receiver. Dillon was a walk-on punter at Florida State before transferring to El Camino.
Hawkeye Comp: Eric Guthrie
Game Film: WATCH
The Skinny: Kidd's father, John Kidd, was a longtime NFL punter. Dillon was awarded a scholarship by Iowa even though its starter the last two seasons, Connor Kornbrath, still retains two years of eligibility. That says: 1. The Hawkeye staff likes Kidd, and 2. Kornbrath can anticipate competition. Iowa hopes it will produce a consistent weapon at punter. Kidd gets excellent distance and elevation on his punts.

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