Iowa continued their torrid recruiting momentum coming off their Rose Bowl appearance with the addition of Scout 100 recruit Eno Benjamin. He's the 99th best player in America according to Scout, a four-star running back, and the 9th best running back in the country.
Benjamin joins A.J. Epenesa, Coy Kirkpatrick, Juan Harris, Mark Kallenberger, Tristan Wirfs, Djimon Colbert, Ivory Kelly-Martin, and Jacob Coons to form one of the best 15 classes in the nation thus far.
Derek Young of Hawkeye Insider jumps in to measure the impact of another pledge of this magnitude.
IMPACT ON THE ROSTER
He's not a super big back but Benjamin is about 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. That probably means his playing weight in Iowa City could approach 220 or so. They probably don't have a player on the roster that is as gifted as Benjamin that is at least 220 pounds. The only players that come close are Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels. Daniels gets held back some with his inconsistent health and Wadley is under 200 pounds. Plus, Daniels will be gone and graduated by the time Benjamin arrives to play.
Daniels is the only current Hawkeye that will have graduated by the time Benjamin enrolls. That means he will have to duke it out for playing time with Wadley, Derrick Mitchell, Marcel Joly, Toks Akinribade and Toren Young.
No offense to Joly, Akinribade, and Young but Benjamin brings more talent to the table out of the gate. If he can learn and commit to pass protection, he plays early and often. Wadley and Mitchell will be his hurdles to significant playing time right away. However, Mitchell has shown little to date as a ball-carrier and Wadley's durability will be a question if he can't surpass 200 pounds.
Simply put, it's quite possible that Benjamin competes for immediate playing time in Iowa City. They just need to get him signed in February. At this point, the only team that could throw that off course is Baylor.
IMPACT ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL
Iowa has now landed a five-star, two four-stars, and some highly decorated three-star prospects in the 2017 class. Benjamin is the latest but not to be forgotten are recruiting wins for Mark Kallenberger, Tristan Wirfs, Djimon Colbert, A.J. Epenesa, and Ivory Kelly-Martin.
For Kallenberger, they defeated Nebraska and wrapped it up before Oklahoma could jump in and steal one away from Iowa. They identified the top talent in their own state which resulted in some impressive pledges in guys like Wirfs, Coons, and Harris. Kirkpatrick has a lot of upside due to his size. They beat everyone in the country for Epenesa. The Hawkeyes held off the in-state schools and a few national programs for running back Ivory Kelly-Martin.
The Hawkeyes are taking the recruiting world by storm at this point. They're not only winning out for prized prospects but they are also defeating national powers for those prospects. They are on their way to their best class in several years.
What does that mean going forward? The image of the program and the profile only raises. Other prospects see Iowa landing players like Epenesa, Benjamin, and Colbert who are nationally known. A bigger profile and improved image means the door gets opened for other recruits that normally wouldn't be available. A few players visit that probably wouldn't usually visit. That doesn't mean they automatically get better players but they do give themselves a much better opportunity and a fighting chance.
It probably started at the end of the 2016 class when they closed on a player the caliber of Alaric Jackson. It will only spring Iowa forward even more. New players could get added to the board. They may grab the attention of a few prospects that weren't focusing on the Hawkeyes too much.