The dead period has ended and National Signing Day is now only a mere few weeks away. Iowa doesn't have a ton of room for growth within the class, but there's a few targets left on the board, including a couple of the most important ones of the entire process. The 2017 recruiting class has also received a big jolt. We take a look at all of that and more.
- Brian and Kirk Ferentz will both be in the Chicago area today. One of the stops will be to see linebacker commit Amani Jones. They will hang around a day later as well to see defensive end commit Romeo McKnight. They'll also stop by and check out a number of 2017 targets in the Chicago area as well.
- Speaking of the two offensive line targets, Brian Ferentz was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota last week, as was Michigan State assistant Brad Salem. The Huskers will be in the school this week to see Farniok as well. He took his official visit to Michigan State last week and this week it is Iowa's turn. He's already used his official visit to Nebraska. A college decision is expected some time after his Iowa visit. The head coaches will likely conduct their in-home visits with the standout senior following the official visit over the weekend.
- On the Alaric Jackson front, it's a bit trickier. Nebraska offensive line coach had an in-home visit with him last week. He was also visited by Iowa assistant Phil Parker. He will be in Iowa City this weekend and in Lincoln the following weekend. It is a recruitment that will come down to Iowa, Nebraska, and Michigan State. The Spartans are not accepting a commitment from Jackson at this time, but if they do, they'd be the frontrunner. If Michigan State does not step up to the table for Jackson, Farniok will likely sign with one of Iowa and Nebraska, and Jackson to the other. That makes the fact that both will be in Iowa City this weekend all the more interesting. I do not foresee them both committing to the Hawkeyes.
- Greg Davis and Brian Ferentz also were in Wisconsin this past week to visit with Iowa quarterback commit Nate Stanley. The only other team that Stanley is listening to is the Badgers. However, it does not seem to be impacting things too much. At this time, I still believe Stanley signs with Iowa. Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst will be at the school sometime this week.
- Cedrick Lattimore and Noah Fant are other commits thought to be tough to hang onto. Lattimore will not visit Michigan State, currently. That leads me to believe that he is 100 percent firm to Iowa. I also expect Fant to remain a Hawkeye pledge. He is more firm to Iowa now than when he originally committed, and has yet to set up any official visits or in-home visits with other programs. If a school asks for an in-home visit, he will likely oblige. I don't see that mattering much but that likely means the Huskers will have an in-home visit with Fant before NSD.
- The big news here is obviously the commitment of A.J. Epenesa, the nation's 16th best prospect in the 2017 class and the top defensive end overall. He was an Iowa legacy but that isn't what completely sealed the deal here. They had to produce on the field to have a chance with Epenesa. They weren't going to get him regardless. The success of this season, and the belief that it will continue, is what sold Epenesa to follow his father's footsteps.
- The commitment of Epenesa will likely help attract other top talents to Iowa too in the upcoming few months. It won't be dramatic. But there could be a few prospects that give the Hawkeyes more of a look than they typically would. But I do want to push the pause button on folks that think his commitment will magically give them a headstart to a top 10 recruiting class. That won't happen. But a few that wouldn't generally consider Iowa, may now that Epenesa is on board.
- Everyone is buzzing about the interest of Texas running back Eno Benjamin as well, and he's a talented 2017 standout as well. He has the Hawkeyes atop his list but I do not foresee a commitment any time soon. If he does commit to Iowa, it is best that it happens later anyways. I would predict that if the commitment of Benjamin came before April that he would not stay in the class. It doesn't make a lot of sense, I know, but it's best to just stay out front. There's a long ways to go in this recruitment.
- Iowa has offered Bettendorf offensive tackle Mark Kallenberger. He has a few other offers but he should be in black and gold sooner rather than later. He and Wirfs will form a pretty solid offensive tackle duo. Add those two to Jacob Coons, Coy Kirkpatrick, Juan Harris and the in-state recruitment is humming as expected.
- Other guys to keep an eye on are 2017 Marshall (MN) OL Blaise Andries, in-state offensive lineman Peter Nank out of West Des Moines who does not hold an offer, and linebacker O'Rien Vance of Cedar Rapids Washington could also be in line for an eventual offer.