Iowa Football

Iowa football recruiting: Highlights, bios and thoughts on 2021 early signees

OABCIG's Cooper Dejean (1) scrambles from Sigourny-Keota's Zach Smithart (75) during the first quarter of their 1A semi-
OABCIG’s Cooper Dejean (1) scrambles from Sigourny-Keota’s Zach Smithart (75) during the first quarter of their 1A semi-final high school state football game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa’s 2021 recruiting class consists of nine kids from Iowa, three from Illinois, two from the Kansas City suburbs, one from Minnesota, one from Nebraska and one from Ohio who signed Wednesday during college football’s early signing period.

Definitely a regional class that lost one original commit (Florida defensive back Jordan Oladokun) after the racial bias investigation into the program over the summer.

“Yeah, I mean, with the whole class, we had to be open and honest,” Barnes said. “There were conversations similar to the conversations that took place in this building with our current players. You couldn’t run away from it. Had to hit it head on.”

“I think that’s really what makes me feel good about this class and about this team, right?” Ferentz said. “They could have packed it up after the first two games. Didn’t do it. Same thing with the guys that were committed to us, really seriously looking at us. They looked at facts, not sensational headlines. They didn’t get caught up in all the stuff. They were looking at things of substance. I think obviously they walked away feeling pretty good about things.”

Here is a list of the 17 recruits, with highlights and comments from Iowa recruiting coordinator Tyler Barnes.

Jeff Bowie (West Branch, Iowa)

Defensive line prospect who checks in at 6-5 and 245 pounds. Multiple-year all-stater played both sides of the ball for one of Iowa’s top small-school programs. Three-star recruit according to Rivals.

Brody Brecht (Ankeny, Iowa)

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Three-star recruit helped Ankeny win the Class 4A state championship, ending West Des Moines Dowling’s seven-year win streak. Big target at 6-4, who had 12 touchdowns in just 42 receptions.

“Brody is a 6-4, 205-pound guy. Skill guys don’t grow on trees in Iowa in your backyard,” Barnes said. “He’s a big kid that can run, multi-sport athlete, ball skills. Probably fits more of the outside X receiver.”

Arland Bruce IV (Olathe, Kan.)

The 5-10 receiver already has a name because of his fight with the Iowa High School Athletic Association to become eligible to play after transferring to Ankeny just before the prep season. Three-star kid who is listed as an “athlete.”

“You see him come up to Iowa, angry, saw what he did after he won his appeal,” Barnes said. “He is lightning in a bottle. This guy is dynamic, a Swiss Army knife, can play in the backfield, in the slot, punts, kicks, game-winning interception in the semis.”

Connor Colby (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Kennedy High School offensive lineman checks in at 6-6 and 295. Committed summer before his junior year. Four-star recruit.

Read more:Connor Colby and his mullet official signs with Iowa

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David Davidkov (Glenview, Ill.)

New Trier High School product is a four-star kid with identical physical stature as Colby. He picked the Hawkeyes over a lot of other big-time programs.

“When you have a guy like that saying his final four are Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Iowa. Kids are going to take notice that Iowa beat some of these historical bluebloods,” Barnes said. “That can get some of that momentum rolling.”

Cooper DeJean (Ida Grove, Iowa)

Was a receiver as a sophomore, then switched over to quarterback and won two state championships with his OABCIG team. Threw for 3,447 yards and 35 touchdowns this season, adding 1,235 yards rushing and another 24 TDs. Four-star recruit who projects as a safety at Iowa.

“We’ll start him at safety,” Barnes said. “We think that is where his highest ceiling is. We will see where it goes. But when you have a four-sport athlete, essentially all-state in four sports, is as great as him, it will be fun to get him here and see what happens.”

Gennings Dunker (Lena, Ill.)

Other than his great name, Dunker is a 6-5, 290-pound offensive line prospect from Lena-Winslow High School, which has an enrollment of just 236. Lena-Winslow grad Isaiah Bruce is a true freshman defensive lineman at Iowa. Three stars.

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“Gennings is hilarious, first and foremost. I’m not sure, I don’t know if we put him out on Twitter. Did some Instagrams, did some ‘did you knows’ with our guys, asking them five questions,” Barnes said. ”One of them was asking them about their top three music artists. Dunk’s first response was Britney Spears. I said no way. He actually has two Britney Spears shirts. He’s doing an interview on one of those today. I’m not sure I’m supposed to say that.”

Jaden Harrell (Urbandale ,Iowa)

Three-star linebacker who also had a Nebraska offer. Grew up a Hawkeye fan.

“We offered him early. Physical kid on both sides of the football, extremely productive, a really humble, quiet kid,” Barnes said. “Sometimes you like those linebackers that are a little quiet. They get on the field, wreak havoc.”

Keagan Johnson (Bellevue, Neb.)

A 6-1, 208-pound receiver who is a eyebrow-raising four-star recruit. Eyebrow-raising because his father, Clester, was a wingback who won two national championships at Nebraska in the early/mid-90s. Iowa beat out the Cornhuskers for Keagan’s services.

“Keagan wasn’t going to be pressured to stay home,” Barnes said. “That speaks volumes when your dad played with the head coach there (Scott Frost), two-time national champion, you’re arguably the best player in the state, coming to a state where there is one of your most hated rivals, I think that tells you everything you need to know about Keagan Johnson.”

“(Clester Johnson) has a deep appreciation of how things work on a football team, the level of commitment that’s necessary, the work that has to go into it academically, football-wise, socially,” Ferentz said. “I think as much as anything, not that dads make decisions, that’s he’s approving of him coming here, I think that really speaks volumes.”

Joey Labas (Brecksville, Ohio)

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The quarterback is the most-distant recruit in this very regional class. Dual-threat quarterback rated as a three-star. Originally committed to Ball State but changed his mind over the summer and cast his lot with Iowa.

“When you go back and watch those two years of film, it verifies what you’re looking for. He’s a good athlete, decent size, 6-3, 210 pounds, with a good arm,” Barnes said. “He’s a little bit of a gamer, has poise. When stuff gets sticky, that’s when he plays at his best. Having Coach O (quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe) get familiarity with that area. (Former Hawkeye QB) Ricky Stanzi works out in that area. For Ricky to put his stamp of approval on him, that’s kind of all we needed to hear.”

Griffin Liddle (Bettendorf, Iowa)

Iowa’s had quite a bit of success over the years with nearby Bettendorf products. Mark Kallenberger is a starting tackle right now for Hawkeyes. Liddle is a 6-3, 275-pound defensive line prospect who Rivals has rated a three-star recruit. Committed as a junior.

“He comes from a great program,” Barnes said. “(Former Hawkeye/NFL linebacker) Pat Angerer was one of the first guys to tip us off. When you play football at Bettendorf as a freshman, that’s something to take notice of. Has two dogs named Kinnick and Carver. They were all in.”

Max Llewellyn (Urbandale, Iowa)

A 6-5 defensive end prospect. Second of two Iowa commits from Urbandale High School. Three-star kid. Also started at tight end for the J-Hawks.

Jeremiah Pittman (Palatine, Ill.)

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Three-star defensive lineman. Had offers from Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois, among others. Went to St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Ill.

Karson Sharar (Iowa Falls, Iowa)

Linebacker whose father, Lincoln, played football at Northern Iowa. In fact, Iowa got a late flip (as in this week) out of Karson, who had committed to UNI.

Beau Stephens (Blue Springs, Mo.)

Massive (6-6, 300 pounds) offensive lineman from Blue Springs High School, whose offers included LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Michigan, among many other. A four-star guy by Rivals.

“Beau was a guy we knew a little bit about,” Barnes said. “When he came up to camp two years ago, that’s where he really stood out to us. At the time he was 323 pounds. A 323-pound high schooler, not supposed to move the way Beau did. We knew after that meeting we want to offer him.”

Justice Sullivan (Eden Prairie, Minn.)

Four-star recruit who is seen as a defensive end or linebacker. Picked Iowa over Nebraska and Minnesota. His father, Jake, played basketball at Iowa State.

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Zach Twedt (Story City, Iowa)

A 6-3, 220-pound linebacker prospect from Roland-Story High School. Obviously that’s a stone’s throw from Iowa State’s campus, and that’s where Twedt originally committed. Twedt is a three-star recruit.

“He’s been such a good leader,” Barnes said. “He’s a vocal kid, a great kid. Another multi-sport athlete. It will be good to get Zach here. I don’t know if there’s anybody more excited about getting on campus next month than him. It will be good to get him here and get with our guys and get rolling.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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