With signing day rapidly approaching, we thought it would be fun to take a look at Iowa's 2005 recruiting class from several different angles.
Instead of telling you exactly what those areas are, it's easier to just dive in.
Today, we will take a look at the offensive side of the ball. We will go in order of the player's verbal commitment, listing the first eight offensive commits in this class. On Tuesday, we will list the rest of the offensive players and close with the defensive commits on Wednesday, which is National Signing Day.
Marcus Wilson: The nephew of Iowa Linebackers coach Darrell Wilson, Marcus is has good size for the wide receiver position (6-foot-3, 195-pounds) and has solid speed (4.50 second forty yard dash), and he had a strong season for Camden Catholic in South Jersey this year.
Wilson is an intriguing prospect, as no one is quite sure of what position he wants to play at the college level, or what position he will wind up playing. As of right now, it looks like either wide receiver or safety, but Iowa is loaded at the safety position and probably needs wide receivers more than anything else.
IF he is a legitimate high major safety prospect, then there could be another position that he might be a candidate for somewhere down the line; linebacker. That is a position of need for Iowa in the next several recruiting classes. Though I have heard nothing that would indicate that a move to linebacker is in the works for Wilson, he has the size and speed to be a very interesting WILL convert at some point. Chad Greenway has that position for 2005, and Ed Miles appears to have the inside track on the position for 2006, but it's up for grabs for 2007.
No matter where he ends up, a redshirt appears likely for
Trey Stross: The US Army All American and first team All Ohio selection is a receiver, there is no doubt there. He is listed at 6-3, 190-pounds, but having seen him first hand in San Antonio earlier this month, he looks closer to 6-1 or 6-2 and 175-pounds.
I spoke with his father while in Texas, and he said that Trey started the 2004 season at 190, but their season was so long, that Trey did indeed drop close to 15-pounds. That loss of weight did not affect his performance in San Antonio, as he impressed all of the Scout.com representatives that were in attendance. From the second that I arrived in San Antonio, people were coming up to me, asking where Iowa found this kid.
"In the corn," I joked, borrowing Jake Christensen's smack talk.
From the day I learned about Trey, his measurables have jumped off the page at me. He is a natural athlete, and he cleared 6-10 in the high jump last year, his first year participating in track and field. His mother was an accomplished track athlete in high school, and his father was an All Ohio football player. Trey's pro agility, vertical jump and forty yard dash times are also excellent.
I believe that after a college career of working out under the watchful eyes of Chris Doyle, that come Trey's NFL combine date, he is going to put up some mighty impressive numbers. He has as much natural ability as any player in this recruiting class.
At one point, Stross toyed with the idea of enrolling at Iowa for the spring semester, as he has all of his required work to graduate high school early. But he decided to stay for the last semester of his senior season to be a kid and to try and win a state title in track and field. I think that was a good move, as Iowa does not necessarily need his help next year at wide out, and a year of adapting to the football and social aspects of college will serve him well.
It would not shock me if he were at or over 200-pounds come the fall of 2006 as a redshirt freshmen, giving Drew Tate a solid weapon to throw to.
Jake Christensen: I have watched Christensen throw more than 300 passes, either on tape or in person, and I still say he is the best high school quarterback that I have seen in game action.
I have not seen as much of Mark Sanchez, so I cannot say that Sanchez is better, though most recruiting outlets have him rated higher than Christensen.
One thing that has dogged Jake is the same thing that followed Drew Tate to the college game; he is too short to be a big time college quarterback. Like Tate showed the nation in 2004, I think that Jake has the ability to make a big impact in the Big Ten when his time comes.
Christensen is listed at 6-1, 200-pounds, but he is probably closer to 210 right now. He is well built from the waist down, and he also has solid upper body strength for the position.
He has a bigger arm than Tate, and he also have impeccable mechanics and footwork for a senior in high school. Not every high school quarterback has a father who played the position in the NFL, so that might be a pretty big factor.
He shows some of the same elusive abilities that we saw out of Tate this year, and he is already a leader among the fellow members of Iowa's recruiting class of 2005. He is a mature senior who was the first major out of state piece of this recruiting class to climb in the truck.
A redshirt in 2005 appears likely, unless the NCAA adopts the five to play five idea they have been toying with. Christensen, a US Army All American, will have every chance to be a three-year starter at Iowa if his high school abilities translate to the Big Ten level. I think they will.
Kyle Calloway: Kyle has intruiged me since he verballed to Iowa back in June. Iowa did not have any tape of him playing on the offensive line when they offered him, because he had never played on the offensive line to that point. But after a few hours of evaluation at Iowa's summer camp, the Hawkeye coaches saw enough mobility and ability to put a written offer in the mail to Calloway, something he received just days after returning home from that visit.
At 6-7, 270-pounds and with an alleged 4.90 second forty yard dash time, it's perhaps too easy a leap for some Iowa fans to think of Robert Gallery. I have to admit that I have thought the same things. Calloway has about a 30-pound head start on what Gallery weighed when he came to Iowa, and Gallery ran a sub 5.0 second forty at his NFL combine workout.
Calloway has excellent feet, and he is a very good basketball player, having played on some very good AAU clubs in the past.
Though he was not as heralded as fellow prep offensive line commits Dan Doering, Dace Richardson or Rafael Eubanks, Calloway has the measurables to be a solid to great contributor at the college level.
Projecting the future of offensive linemen is not easy, but the Iowa coaches are extremely excited to have Calloway in the fold. At the time of his commitment to Iowa, he was beginning to receive serious interest from Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Missouri and other programs.
Calloway will most likely redshirt this coming season.
Marshal Yanda: The 6-6, 306-pound offensive lineman from North Iowa Area Community College was a bit of a surprise commitment back in Mid November, but make no mistake about it; he was not a fallback recruit.
At the time of his commitment, Iowa had yet to receive verbals from the aforementioned Doering, Richardson and Eubanks. Those three players are rated among Scout.com's Top 100 National players, regardless of position. Yanda was in the fold before any of them.
The Anamosa native will have three years to play two, and he helps Iowa balance out its recruiting classes on the offensive line.
I don't suspect that he was brought in to sit on the bench, and though there is a possibility of a redshirt year, Yanda is on campus right now and will have the benefit of working out with the team this spring. He is a nice insurance policy, at worst, for oft injured David Walker and Brian Ferentz.
Yanda has been described as an aggressive and physical player, one who will get down the field and make a block.
Rafael Eubanks: A Top 100 player nationally as rated by Scout.com, Eubanks is a center/guard prospect down the line in college. If he can grasp the mental side of the position, center appears his likely destination. That statement is not meant to say that he does not have the mental ability for the center position; rather, that is a position that is incredibly demanding and one that not everyone can play. Iowa feels that it has a successor to Mike Elgin, however.
Eubanks (6-3, 290) committed to Iowa on December 13th, but once Notre Dame hired Charlie Weiss, he took a visit to South Bend that sort of muddied the waters. After much consultation and thought, Eubanks stuck with his commitment to Iowa, and reaffirmed that decision on January 16th.
Eubanks formed a strong bond with Doering, Richardson and Jake Christensen back in the fall, and that carried through the winter.
I suspect that he will redshirt in 2005.
Corey Robertson: The 6-1, 205-pound tailback from Denison, Texas gained more than 5,000 yards on the ground during his Class 4-A high school career, making him one of roughly 100 Texas preps to ever crack that barrier. He was named first team all state this year in Texas, as well as being an honorable mention selection at safety.
He was a dangerous return man for Denison and he torched opponents from every spot on the field.
If his reported forty time of 4.60 seconds is accurate, that is plenty fast for a college back; Ladell Betts' NFL combine time was in the 4.6 second range. If he stays at running back at Iowa, he will need to learn to not run so upright if he wants to stay out of the trainer's office.
Robertson might also be a candidate for a position change somewhere down the line (and that is nothing more than my uniformed speculation.) He has the size for a big safety or a linebacker down the road. For years, Nebraska made a living out of signing four to six running backs per recruiting class, and then converting several of them to linebackers or safeties.
Dana Brown: The 5-11, 190-pound Brown came out of nowhere before committing to Iowa on December 19th.
Brown was a good small school running back in Pennsylvania as a 165-pound junior, but his added size and lighting quick feet and speed helped propel him into greener pastures. The Pittsburgh area prep was starting to turn the heads of some larger programs when Iowa offered him.
Brown, who claims 4.48 speed in the forty, rushed for nearly 2,200 yards as a senior and scored 36 touchdowns. He was the Pittsburgh Small School Player of the Year for 2004.
While in San Antonio, I was able to watch film of Brown. He is an electrifying performer who can run both inside and outside, and he was able to beat defenders on long runs when they had an angle of pursuit at one point.
Iowa Recruiting Coordinator Eric Johnson told Hawkeye Nation magazine for our February Issue that small school players have to jump off the tape at you in order for them to get a serious evaluation. Brown did just that.
Brown is another player that might be able to play multiple positions at the next level, with cornerback being the other position to keep in mind. A redshirt in 2005 seems likely.