Hawkeye Signing Day Superlatives

National signing day is here and to take you inside what Iowa is picking up with their newest batch of recruits, HI Publisher Rob Howe brings you his insights on this 2015 Class.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - On the eve of Wednesday's signing day, the hay appears to be in the barn. The ode to legendary coach Hayden Fry's popular saying is represented by 21 commitments in Iowa's 2015 recruiting class.

The group has been criticized on social media and message boards for not having star power as it relates to rankings. It won't define this batch of prospects.

There's solid potential in this glass. Let's take a look at some of the highlights in this analyst's eyes:

Best Bet: At the risk of offending other future Hawkeyes in this class, I believe Jake Newborg is a shoe-in to succeed here. He could contribute on either side of the ball, although he's expected to get his first crack at defensive tackle.

Newborg is built like a snow plow and plays with a motor that runs from kickoff to the final horn. He understands leverage and plays with a good pad level. He's real polished for a prep player.

Key to the Class, Part II: Part I was Karan Higdon. The Florida running back flipped to Michigan Thursday morning after switching to Iowa from South Florida in the fall.

Like running back, linebacker was a position of need in this class. Landing Angelo Garbutt a day before signing day could prove fruitful.

Garbutt stood out on both sides of the ball in the very competitive Dallas area. He originally committed to Oregon State and Mike Riley before opening things back up when the coach left for Nebraska. The Huskers and Missouri made late pushes at Garbutt.

Garbutt is tall and rangy. He runs well.

Early Impact: Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and Strength Coach Chris Doyle long have said that it's easiest to break into college football the farther you line up from the ball. That theory has held true for most of their 16 years running the program.

I'll defer to those guys here. Instead of going with offensive lineman James Daniels, I'll select a linebacker, where there's an obvious need. Once there, I'm torn between Jack Hockaday and Justin Jinning. I'll go with the latter based on the level of high school competition and physical preparedness.

Higdon also also seems like a likely candidate for this tag but I'll pick a less obvious choice but certainly one with a great deal of talent.

Highest Upside: I'm not really climbing out on a limb here but James Daniels possesses all of the ingredients to become a dominant offensive lineman at a school that's had a lot success there. He's already enrolled and will take part in spring ball. That may not get him on the field next season but starting as a redshirt freshman is a distinct possibility.

Daniels physically overpowers people and he has the frame to add more size and strength. Improved conditioning also will aid him in his path to becoming a household name in the Big Ten.

Sleeper No. 1: It's easy to be overshadowed in the talent-rich state of Texas and that's what's happened to South Garland High Receiver Jerminic Smith. He reminds me a lot of a Smith already on the roster, Tevaun Smith, who also arrived in Iowa City with little fanfare as a Canadian at a Connecticut prep school.

Jerminic Smith combines size, speed and an aptitude for playing the position that projects well on the next level. He's also well developed physically for a high school senior and I think he has a strong chance to play as a true freshman.

Sleeper No. 2: I'm going to stick with the receiver position with a product from another state loaded with high-level competition. Adrian Falconer, much like Jerminic Smith, boasts the necessary tools to excel in college.

Falconer played well on both sides of the ball this fall and also stood out on special teams. He earned second-team all-state honors in Florida's Class 6A after catching 51 passes for 951 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.

The One That Got Away: With social media and increased reporting on recruiting, every team's misses are well publicized. All fan bases wring their hands throughout the process. In reality, only one program wins a commitment while a lot of them lose.

Climbing off the soapbox, the Hawkeyes suffered some tough defeats in this cycle. Darrion Daniels, Jake Whalen, Raequan Williams, Jashon Cornell, Marquise Doherty and Tevis Bartlett come to mind. Iowa sat in good position with all of them at some point in the cycle before they chose other options.

While it would be nice to land a few, or any, of those standouts, losing Cincinnati St. Xavier linebacker Justin Hilliard to Ohio State stung the most. His brother, C.J., chose the Hawkeyes last year and it appeared they stood a good chance to secure his four-star younger sibling at a obvious position of need.

Even after Justin committed to the Buckeyes, he officially visited Iowa, providing a glimmer of hope that he'd follow his brother. The wound grew when he stuck with OSU. Ouch.

Most Intriguing Prospect: It's difficult to project what Iowa picked up in Iowa City Regina's Drew Cook. The raw package he provides creates intrigue.

I've watched Cook in person twice and viewed his film quite a bit. He's an incredibly gifted athlete who could help a lot of Division I basketball programs.

Cook would succeed at various positions on both sides of the ball. Unlike other analysts, I believe that could happen at quarterback if he continues to develop as a passer. He's 6-5, 220 and runs a 4.5 40.

I certainly could see Cook following his father, Marv Cook, as a high school quarterback turned standout college tight end. But I'm more intrigued by him developing as a dual-threat quarterback capable of putting heavy pressure on the defense.

Fastest Man: Emmanuel Ogwo is relatively new to football, which makes him somewhat of a project, but there's a lot to work with here. The Texas receiver can burn up the turf.

Ogwo did not play football as a junior. He finished fourth in the Class 5A 400 meters (47.51 seconds) at the Texas high school state track meet in May. He told me that he ran his 4x400 split at the junior nationals in 46.68.

Ogwo met with Iowa track coach Joey Woody when he visited the school and is considering being a two-sport athlete.

Class Acts: Levi and Landan Paulsen are really good at football. The Moville (IA) twins will arrive at Iowa as well-rounded citizens. They're outstanding wrestlers, involved in band, student government, 4-H and carry a near perfect GPA. They out the "student" in student-athlete.


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