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IOWA CITY — This year’s start to the early signing period had much more significance than just the ceremonial dotting of the I’s and crossing of the T’s.
The Hawkeyes picked up five commitments from scholarship athletes Wednesday, including three who previously committed to other schools.
Cornerback T.J. Hall, who previously committed to Washington, was the latest to announce his intentions to play football in Iowa City. Hall, who hails from Fresno, Calif., is the 50th-best cornerback in Rivals’ rankings.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said the opportunity to pursue Hall came following “a little turbulence” in the Washington program.
Fellow defensive backs Koen Entringer and Olando Trader also committed to the Hawkeyes on Wednesday. Entringer, from Ypsilanti, Mich., picked Iowa over Wisconsin, Boston College and Michigan.
Entringer was “actually more of a soccer player” growing up, Ferentz said, and is relatively new to football.
“He’s got a world of potential,” Ferentz said. “He’s already a good football player.”
Trader, from Jackson, Mich., previously committed to Central Michigan before donning an Iowa hat in his Wednesday signing ceremony. Rivals ranks Trader as the 57th-best cornerback in his class.
“We watched him hard during his senior year,” Ferentz said, “knowing that corner is a position of need for us.”
Defensive end Brian Allen Jr., a four-star recruit according to Rivals and three-star recruit according to 247Sports, switched hats from Illinois to Iowa.
The Hawkeyes also signed Landyn Van Kekerix, a two-star prospect according to Rivals and three-star prospect according to 247Sports from Inwood.
Van Kekerix, who chose Iowa over South Dakota and South Dakota State, had a three-touchdown performance in the first half against Solon in this year’s Class 3A semifinals.
Ferentz attributed the late influx in commitments to his staff’s patience.
“We move at a pace that we think is smart,” Ferentz said.
Iowa’s 2022 recruiting class includes top-two in-state recruits
Iowa now has 17 signings in the class of 2022.
Xavier Nwankpa, a five-star safety from Southeast Polk High School, is the highest-profile recruit in the class. He picked Iowa over Notre Dame and Ohio State last week.
“If you go back to May — April, May, even June — I think if anybody on our staff told you that we felt good about that recruitment, they’re lying to you,” Iowa recruiting director Tyler Barnes said. “I really felt it started to turn a little bit in August.”
Since committing on Dec. 8, Nwankpa has helped the Hawkeyes bring in more recruits. He tweeted to Barnes about “coming for (his) job” after Barnes called him his “new assistant recruiting coordinator.”
“If he wants to take on some side jobs … I’m all for it,” Ferentz said. “Our players are the ones who sell the university.”
When Hall streamed his announcement on Instagram Live, Nwankpa was there in the comments section.
Iowa also signed the second-rated recruit in Iowa, defensive lineman Aaron Graves. Barnes compared him to “one of those Nike mannequins you see with a 12-pack.”
“I wanted to offer Aaron after the first two games (of) freshman year high school film,” Barnes said. “I had to be told to slow it down by our coaching staff, but it was easy to see. He never came off the field in those two games as a freshman.”
His recruitment was an “easy sell,” Ferentz said. “Aaron wanted to become a Hawkeye. That was a real easy one. It happened really early.”
The Nwankpa and Graves signings marked the second time in the last three years that Iowa brought in the top two in-state recruits, based on Rivals’ rankings.
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