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Five-Star Xavier Nwankpa Commits to Iowa

After attending the raucous environment against Penn State, Kaleb Johnson committed to Iowa and inks with the Hawkeyes on early signing day.

The number one ranked safety in the 2022 class announced his commitment to the Iowa Hawkeyes today. Five-star Xavier Nwankpa commits to Iowa after his final three schools were narrowed down to Notre Dame, Ohio State, and the Hawkeyes. The safety has a 0.9783 247 Sports ranking. He comes in as the nation’s top safety and 11th overall national recruit. Nwankpa is a senior at Southeast Polk High School in Altoona, Iowa and will attend the University of Iowa next year.

Five-Star Xavier Nwankpa Commits to Iowa

Nwankpa made an official visit to Iowa the weekend of October 9th for the Penn State game. After a first half deficit, the Iowa defense made adjustments and allowed only three second half points. Nwankpa was able to see the physicality of the Hawkeye defense first-hand, and just what they can do to opponents. While it’s unlikely that one game sways a decision, this victory had it all. An incredible defensive performance, a top five victory, and a field storm at the end. All of which made it impossible for Nwankpa to say no.


As a safety, Nwankpa has great size and quickness. These physical attributes allow him to close in on the football at a high level. In 2020, he recorded 41 tackles and six interceptions. He returned two of those picks for touchdowns. This past season, Nwankpa had seven total touchdowns and led the team with four interceptions. The senior from Southeast Polk also exhibits a high level of physicality in the defensive secondary. He hits hard and shows his ability to wrap up the ball carrier for quality form tackles. Nwankpa has an ability to diagnose plays at an advanced level, making him stand out in the high school game.

His athleticism speaks for itself because he played all three phases in 2020 for Southeast Polk. Nwankpa recorded 792 all-purpose yards and scored 10 total touchdowns on the season. In 2021, he tallied over 750 all-purpose yards and had 26 tackles. Recruitment analysts at 247 Sports lists Nwankpa as a potential early-round to first-round draft pick. His player comparison is Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Nwankpa is a two-time All-Iowa Elite Team selection. He led his high school to their first class 5A Iowa state title in the 2021 season. He had a key interception in the game, sealing the victory for the Rams. The senior runs a 4.43 40-yard dash and stands at 6’-2” and 190 pounds. He’ll join fellow commit and running back Jaziun Patterson next year in Iowa City and will add to Phil Parker’s elite Hawkeye defense. 

Hawkeye Recruiting Success

With the addition of Nwankpa to this Hawkeye roster, Iowa now has the 39th ranked 2022 recruiting class. That jumps from 52nd overall before his announcement. Iowa has shown they can go out of state and get a top-tier running back in Patterson. Now, they have landed one of the best players in the country, and he is in the Hawkeyes’ backyard. Iowa likes to get local guys, but a lot of times the top players leave Iowa for championship contending schools. This time, they were successful in landing the local talent, and the future of Hawkeye football is looking up. Phil Parker’s Iowa defense was dominant throughout this season, and they add to their arsenal with the key pickup of Nwankpa.


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