Five instate recruits, top QB highlight Iowa’s class
IOWA CITY – Iowa announced a 19-player signing day class Wednesday highlighted by quarterback Tyler Wiegers and an instate star set to switch to receiver.
Wiegers is considered among the nation’s top pro-style passers. The Detroit-area standout joins a crowded position group that also includes underclassmen C.J. Beathard and Nic Shimonek.
La Porte City’s Jay Scheel, who will transition from quarterback to wideout, headlines the list of Iowa-based recruits.
Running back C.J. Hilliard of Cincinnati will help the Hawkeyes replenish their depth in the backfield. Cedar Rapids Xavier defensive end Matt Nelson is perhaps the most notable signee on that side of the ball for Iowa, which finished ninth in scoring defense in 2013.
The Hawkeyes finished 8-5 last season and lost to LSU in the Outback Bowl.
The Hawkeyes focused heavily on an area of immediate need by signing five defensive backs. Though Iowa typically shies away from using players before they’re ready, freshman Desmond King blossomed into a standout at cornerback last season. So defensive backs like Omar Truitt and Miles Taylor could get a shot at early playing time, especially on special teams.
The Hawkeyes will also lose all three of its starting linebackers.
Linebacker recruits Parker Hesse of Waukon, Aaron Mends of Kansas City and Ben Niemann of Sycamore, Ill., will likely all need time to put on the muscle required to play in the Big Ten.
Iowa signed six in-state players including Scheel, Nelson and three offensive linemen.
Scheel will probably need time to make the switch to the outside. But if Scheel can show he’s ready to make an impact, he’ll likely get a shot on special teams.
Nelson, who turned down Notre Dame and Stanford to play for Iowa, is a candidate to redshirt at 6-foot-8 and just 255 pounds. The defensive end is also a standout basketball player.
The Hawkeyes signed Texas native Mick Ellis to compete for the starting placekicking job, and junior college punter Dillon Kidd will push incumbent Connor Kornbrath.
National rankings: Rivals 60, Scout 41).
Best in class: Tyler Wiegers, QB, Detroit Country Day High School (Mich.); Jay Scheel, WR, Union Community.
Best of the rest: Matt Nelson, DE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Keegan Render, OG, Indianola, Iowa.
Late addition: Miles Taylor, DB, Washington, D.C.
One that got away: Ross Pierschbacher, OT, Cedar Falls, (Alabama)
NOTE: Although Iowa signed many of the state’s top prospects, Pierschbacher wavered on his oral commitment and wound up with Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. The Hawkeyes also failed to land the state’s No. 1 recruit, wide receiver and Iowa State signee Allen Lazard. But Lazard’s father and brother played for the Cyclones, and he’s been committed to them for 14 months.