It was just a couple days ago that we ran a big-time recruiting update on the Iowa Hawkeyes but enough information has come in the past few days to warrant another. Iowa has 24 commits, looking to finish out the 2016 group and get a headstart on the 2017 class.
Right now, they're busy conducting a lot of in-home visits with prospects before the dead period hits Sunday night for the holidays. The open recruiting period began last week but the Hawkeyes and Spartans were not involved as they prepared for the Big Ten Championship Game.
THE BIG IN-HOME VISIT
Obviously all of the assistant coaches are going around and visiting the homes of all of their commits, like Chris White heading to New Jersey to see commit Brandon Simon and his family and the staff also visit a few of their commits in Michigan. The Hawkeye caoches have also visited 2017 and 2018 prospects as well including a group from St. Louis and top target A.J. Epenesa.
The biggest of in-home visits occurred last night. The top target remaining, and really the top target of the 2016 class regardless of position, Matt Farniok, was visited by Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz last night. Farniok's family hosted the Hawkeye assistant. We'll have more to update here later, but everything is going according to schedule for Kirk Ferentz, Brian Ferentz, and Iowa. The next step will be an official visit to Iowa City and securing that.
A COMMIT TO WORRY ABOUT?
It is not time for concern yet but there's one Big Ten school doing their best to flip a current Hawkeye verbal pledge. Wisconsin is in extremely hot pursuit of Iowa quarterback commit Nate Stanley of Greendale, Wisconsin. It is not totally known how receptive Stanley has been thus far but the Badgers are not overly confident about their chances of flipping him if that is any indication. The Iowa staff is well aware and are prepared to put in the overtime to keep him away from Madison. This could be the recruitment that gets very entertaining between now and the first Wednesday in February.
BIG FISH IN THE 2017 CLASS
We mentioned that Matt Farniok was top target in 2016 and it's safe to say the most wanted prospect in 2017 for the Iowa Hawkeyes will be legacy A.J. Epenesa. He's rated as the top defensive end in the country for his graduating year, the 16th best prospect in the nation overall, and a four-star with a great chance of securing five-star status at some point.
He had an incredible offer sheet before yesterday, but it got even better. Aside from Iowa, Epenesa already had offers from programs such as Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Ohio State, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Utah, and Wisconsin. Add Alabama to that group now after the Crimson Tide extended him a scholarship offer a day ago.
I believe we are still a long way's out from a college decision of any kind from Epenesa. I wouldn't say Iowa is in the driver's seat to earn his signature but they are in the driver's seat to be in it until the absolute end. I'm not ready to be much more confident than that. This year's success cemented their place in his recruitment. Continuing that would probably be enough to push him into the Hawkeyes' laps. Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Michigan State have definitely peaked his curiosity so far among others.