The 2022 Iowa Hawkeye recruiting class began the early signing period with the 40th-ranked class nationally, and 12th in the Big Ten. After landing five signing day targets with a total of 17 guys signing their letters of intent, the Hawkeyes jumped to the 26th overall class. The average rating is 0.8809 according to 247 Sports and consists of four four-stars and a five-star. The massively successful day was triggered in part by Xavier Nwankpa making his commitment official. The ‘X’ effect solidified four other recruits’ decisions to follow in his footsteps and join the Hawkeyes. There’s a lot to unpack in evaluating Iowa’s 2022 recruiting class, but the group as a whole has a lot of upside potential.
The “X” Effect
Nwankpa tweeted shortly after signing his letter of intent saying, “Also some more good news coming soon.” This social media post turned heads as it offered insight into what was going on behind the scenes for other recruits. In what was dubbed “The ‘X’ Effect”, the Hawkeyes ended up signing four additional highly-touted defensive players.
It began when Brian Allen Jr. signed with the Hawkeyes. The four-star defensive lineman was originally committed to Illinois, with interest from Mario Cristobal at both Oregon and Miami. He brings great size to the Hawkeye front at 6’-3” and 259 pounds. Allen was the top player in the state of Illinois.
Shortly after, the Hawkeye secondary gained a three-star Orlando Trader out of Michigan. The 6’-1” and 185-pound cornerback brings incredible speed and great ball skills to Phil Parker’s secondary. He ran a 10.84-second 100-meter dash in high school and is the 18th-ranked player in his home state. Trader will be a great addition to the Hawkeyes.
Following Trader, a second Michigan native inked with the Hawkeyes. Koen Entringer is a defensive back and receiver from Michigan. The three-star athlete played both sides of the ball in high school, but his skills will lead him to the secondary in the Big Ten. He had competing offers from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Boston College, but the ‘X’ effect swung his decision, and he joined a talented incoming group in Iowa City.
The Hawkeyes then signed their fourth defensive back in TJ Hall from Fresno, California. Hall originally committed to Washington, then was a part of the group that visited Iowa for the Penn State game. At 6’-2” and 175 pounds, Hall is another three-star with great upside potential. He recently shot up the rankings in his home state and sits at the 32nd best player from California. He will be another key addition to the Hawkeye secondary that keeps getting better.
According to Rivals, Iowa signed four four-star guys in the early signing period. One of them was Allen, and the other three will bring incredible upside potential to Iowa City. Carson May is the gunslinging quarterback from Oklahoma. He had video game-like numbers in high school and is the highest-rated quarterback Iowa has ever signed. May brings a great frame to Iowa and can be mobile if he needs to escape the pocket. Signing May was a huge milestone for Hawkeye recruiting.
Aaron Graves and Kaleb Johnson are the other two four-stars that inked with Iowa in the early period. Graves was called “the lowest maintenance recruit in the history of Iowa football” by Hawkeye director of recruiting Tyler Barnes. His dominance upfront is the best the Hawkeyes have seen at the high school level in a long time, and he was always fully set on Iowa. Johnson is a running back out of Ohio with a solid build. At 6’-1” and 215 pounds, he has deceptive speed and great agility.
Tight End University
Iowa also gained some tight ends in the early period who will help carry the “tight end university” namesake forward. Addison Ostrenga is a 6’-5” and 220-pound pass-catcher out of Wisconsin with a 0.8490 rating on 247 Sports. He has soft hands and the ability to run routes like a receiver. That skill is becoming more and more important as seen with the NFL’s top tight ends. Ostrenga has it, and he is likely to be one of the more underrated recruits in this class.
Cael Vanderbush is the second tight end that Iowa signed. The three-star is 6’-6” and 200 pounds with a great frame to put on some size at the Big Ten level. Vanderbush is a dual-sport athlete, as he also excels at basketball. With the physicality, athleticism, and size of Vanderbush, he likely becomes another highly regarded Hawkeye tight end.
Additions to the Offense
At offensive line, Iowa solidified Jack Dotzler and Kale Krogh. Both guys weigh in at 265 pounds, and Dotzler is 6’-7” and Krogh is 6’-6”. They are also both multi-sport athletes and show great footwork and athleticism on the court. Dotzler is from Wisconsin and had other FBS offers from schools like Arizona State and Iowa State. Krogh is an in-state guy whose only other FBS offer was from Minnesota. These two offensive linemen add depth to the position, and will soon be an integral part of the Iowa front.
At the skill positions, Florida native Jaziun Patterson signed his letter of intent. The three-star committed to the Hawkeyes last summer after getting acquainted with the family atmosphere of the program and coaches. Patterson had offers from virtually everywhere including Alabama and Florida State. He joins Johnson in the running back room, and both of them bring dynamic talent to the backfield. Jacob Bostick is the other skill-position guy and lines up at receiver. At 6’-3” and 170 pounds, he has twitch when running routes, and shows great range. Bostick committed to Iowa last summer and never wavered. He will be a great addition to the young talent Iowa had at receiver this season.
Defensive Front Seven
Caden Crawford is a high three-star defensive end from Kansas. Crawford is 6’-4” and 235 pounds and had offers from other big schools including Minnesota and Missouri. He is listed as an “athlete” in his recruiting profile because he has played anywhere from quarterback to linebacker in high school. Crawford will bring speed and coverage capabilities to the Hawkeye defensive line.
At linebacker, Iowa grabbed two guys with a lot of upsides. Jayden Montgomery is a three-star from Wisconsin whose only FBS offer was the Hawkeyes, who offered last summer. Montgomery is the 15th-ranked player in his home state. He is also the son of former Hawkeye, Jerry Montgomery.
Landyn Van Kekerix is another three-star and was a signing day target that went with the Hawkeyes. The linebacker showed a lot of improvement in his senior season of high school. Van Kekerix’s decision was difficult to attend the University of Iowa, as he was considering staying at home and working on the farm. Through the relationships developed with the Iowa football staff, Van Kekerix made the decision to play football in Iowa City, and he will likely be a pivotal piece of the defense in a short time.
Evaluating Iowa’s 2022 Recruiting Class
In total, all five of Iowa’s signing day targets ended up signing with the Hawkeyes, and their recruiting numbers jumped because of it. The ‘X’ effect played a big role in locking down some highly touted guys, and the rest of the class fit in seamlessly with the program. Kirk Ferentz and his recruiting staff did an impressive job this season, and the Hawkeyes were one of just 18 programs to land a five-star player. In evaluating Iowa’s 2022 recruiting class, things are looking up for Ferentz’s program. A 10-win season and a top-tier recruiting class continue the Hawkeyes’ model of success.