116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa football is one month away from its biggest weekend of official visits this summer.
Nineteen of the 20 prospects expected to see campus in June will visit the weekend of June 25 just as the next dead period approaches on June 28.
The hope at Iowa is the visit leaves a lasting impression, which will help these athletes begin making their decisions in July.
“Three years ago was the first time we were allowed to have summer official visits,” Iowa football recruiting director Tyler Barnes said. “Our goal is to be the last visit on their mind. In the two years we were able to do it (excluding pandemic), I want to say almost 85 percent of the guys that have signed with us (were) in those two classes.”
Iowa has two verbal commitments so far in its 2022 class: Southeast Valley defensive end Aaron Graves and Caden Crawford, a defensive end from Lansing High School in Kansas.
Crawford is a 6-foot-5, 235-pound outside linebacker and No. 3 defensive end from Kansas while Graves is the No. 2 defensive end in the state of Iowa, according to 247Sports.
“I think at this point last year we probably had 10 guys committed and this class we have two,” Barnes said. “A lot of that is by design, too. Typically March and April is a pretty busy commitment season, but it’s down quite a bit because these kids also want to be patient. They finally want to meet these coaches and their players, across the country, it has been pretty slow.”
Other factors come into play, like the fact roster spots are shrinking given the extra COVID-19 year afforded athletes in the program. Seniors from this past season’s class who wanted to play an extra year don’t count toward the 85-man scholarship limit, but moving forward for the next four years, the seniors who do stay will count against the limit.
That will take scholarships from potential incoming freshmen.
As June approaches, here are some storylines to keep an eye on in the 2022 Iowa recruiting class.
The 4-star players
Graves, a 6-5 1/2, 260-pound defensive end from Gowrie, will arrive on campus on June 25. He’s the classic multisport athlete Iowa looks for.
The Southeast Valley athlete placed fourth in the Class 2A state wrestling tournament as a heavyweight. It was his first year wrestling since junior high.
“Graves looked like a high school senior when he was a freshman,” 247Sports Midwest scout Allen Trieu said. “Iowa has had a lot of guys play on their line who were really good high school wrestlers and it's usually a good marker of success.”
Josh Helmholdt, a scout with Rivals, said Graves is a guy who plays high school football at 250 pounds, but “runs like most wide receivers at that level.”
Other 4-star visitors will be Carson Hinzman, a 6-4, 280-pound center from Saint Croix Central High School in Hammond, Wis., Micah Riley-Ducker, a 6-6, 235-pound tight end from Bellevue West High School in Bellevue, Neb., (home of Iowa freshman wide receiver Keagan Johnson) and Hunter Deyo, a 6-3, 270-pound defensive tackle from Lewis Central in Council Bluffs.
According to Trieu and Helmholdt, if Iowa is able to lock in Hinzman’s commitment, he could be a big win from the state of Wisconsin, but he’s fielding offers from all over the country, attending the Under Armour All-America Camp Series in April.
He’s the No. 2 overall recruit in Wisconsin and No. 6-ranked offensive guard in the nation, according to 247Sports.
According to Hinzman’s Twitter, some of the schools who have offered him are Nebraska, Stanford, Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, Virginia Tech, Illinois and Auburn.
“You don't go into Wisconsin and beat Wisconsin on offensive linemen too often and this one Iowa happened to beat them to the punch and offered him first,” Trieu said. “They did it while he was on campus as a freshman, so he's got a lot of familiarity with Iowa.”
Trieu said Hinzman is a big guy who carries his weight well, meaning, he appears leaner than what he is. The fact Iowa offered him as a freshman, which rarely happens, speaks to his potential. His technical skills, along with quick footwork on the basketball court, sets him apart.
“I would put Iowa in that second tier of schools that certainly has a chance, but I think Wisconsin or Notre Dame are the most likely destinations,” Helmholdt said.
Two targets Iowa might have the biggest pull on are Deyo and Riley-Ducker.
Deyo, to both scouts, seems to be the most interested in Iowa. While a former teammate of Thomas Fidone, a tight end at Nebraska who was one of the top recruits out of the state of Iowa a year ago, the defensive tackle from Council Bluffs hasn’t gone out of his way to attract national attention. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 2 recruit from the state of Iowa, and No. 20 in the nation as a defensive tackle.
“What really separated him from all the other farm boys out there is that he could really run plays down,” Trieu said. “He could chase plays down and change directions. He plays really well on the offensive side of the ball, too.”
As a tight end looking to stay close to home, Riley-Ducker has kept his focus on the Midwest, according to Helmholdt. But he also will visit Illinois and Auburn this summer. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 5 target from Nebraska and No. 27 at tight end nationally.
“The tight end position has risen in value,” Helmholdt said. “Colleges are looking for guys who have that size to be a mismatch against and who has the speed and ability to separate against a linebacker or bigger drop down safety, and they know that Riley-Ducker is that guy.”
Bellevue West also is home to teammate and tight end Kaden Helms, who has captured Iowa’s eye, but has not scheduled a visit this summer. According to Trieu and Helmholdt, Helms is looking to play somewhere outside of the Midwest or just far from home.
But Bellevue West has more recently been a pool that Iowa, along with other schools, are beginning to dip their toes in.
“These two guys, Micah (Riley-Ducker) and Kaden (Helms), are getting recruited all around the country, and Keagan (Johnson) wasn’t,” Trieu said. “And then he kind of blew up as a 4-star his senior year and Iowa was already in there. I think that’s helped them build a relationship there with these kids.”
Good odds at tight end, O-line
In addition to Riley-Ducker and Helms, Andrew Keller and Tommy McIntosh will be two other key tight end targets visiting Iowa. Of the four, Trieu said, given Iowa’s history at the tight end position, Iowa should get one of the four.
Keller is a teammate of 6-7, 265-pound offensive tackle Jack Dotzler, who also is a three-star prospective Hawkeye from Waunakee, Wis., and also will visit that weekend.
Standing at 6-6 and weighing 210 pounds, Keller also will be camping at Wisconsin, but has not yet received an offer from the Badgers. Dotzler, however, could help persuade him.
“Dotzler would probably be the top one key just a rare get from Wisconsin who grew up loving Iowa,” Trieu said. “His dad is an alum. He’s been going to games his whole life, wearing black-and-gold since he was a toddler. That one feels like as much of a layup as any of the other guys on this list.”
McIntosh, a 6-5, 203-pound wide receiver Iowa could place at tight end, has placed the Hawkeyes in his top six already, along with Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Indiana, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt. He led his school to a state championship in January, and, as the No. 18 recruit in Michigan and No. 106 overall receiver, he’s a top target for Iowa, which has a history of converting wide receivers to tight ends.
Winning the state of Iowa
Iowa’s 2021 class saw an unprecedented amount of FBS-caliber talent, but the 2022 and 2023 classes are awaiting evaluation.
So far, targets like Southeast Polk safety Xavier Nwankpa are attracting more national attention, but still keeping Iowa in contention. Nwankpa named Iowa to his top seven, which includes Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Arizona State.
“We have three or four guys rated 4-star prospects, but several guys pending and knocking on the doors” Helmholdt said. “I think last year was ... probably the most talented class I've ever covered in the state of Iowa. There was something like two dozen or more kids who had Power Five offers.”
Trieu said the 2023 class could be even more competitive, with four to six in-state athletes collecting power-5 offers already. Part of that is due to the fact Iowa athletes are starting to travel more to events like the Under Armour All-America Bowl.
“I do think more schools are taking notice of Iowa kids, which is great for the state of Iowa,” Barnes said. “It makes our job a little bit, but not terribly, more challenging since more schools are coming into the state. But at the end of the day, it's still going come down to us to develop relationships with those kids.”
Comments: (319) 398-8387, email@example.com