Iowa football sees surge in verbal commitments despite extended dead period

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Photo courtesy of Jordan Oladokun.

By Tyler Devine

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Whatever the Iowa football team is doing with regard to recruiting despite NCAA restrictions through at least May 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be working.

In a two-week period from April 14-28, five players from five different states verbally committed to Iowa’s 2021 recruiting class, which now stands at 13 players total.

Iowa strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle said the coaching staff has found success mimicking the recruiting experience virtually.

“We’re kind of banging on it right now, it’s big-time recruiting,” Doyle said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to normalize what we’d be doing on campus if we were on campus. What that means to us, are we recruiting? Yeah, absolutely. I won’t talk about any recruits individually. But what we’re doing right here, Zoom meetings are happening. We’re trying to recreate everything that we would be doing."

The players that verbally committed to Iowa during that time period are Florida defensive back Jordan Oladokun, Illinois offensive lineman David Davidkov, Missouri offensive lineman Beau Stephens, Kansas athlete Arland Bruce, and Urbandale defensive lineman Max Llewellyn.

The most recent are Davidkov and Bruce, who announced their commitments to Iowa on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Oladokun’s commitment is particularly interesting because he did so without ever having visited Iowa.

But when it came down to it, the decision was more about intangibles than anything for Oladokun.

“It was definitely a hard decision,” Oladkun said. “I’ve been to other places I’ve been recruited by. It was just Iowa – what they build there. The development that goes on at Iowa is, in my opinion, I don’t need to be on a visit to see. That’s just kind of something everybody talked about. It’s not just one person talking about it. Everyone talked about it. People even down where I’m at in Tampa talk about it.”

Davidkov, who is a four-star rated prospect according to Rivals.com, told AllHawkeyes.com on Monday that he knew long before the announcement by the NCAA that he wanted to commit to Iowa.

“I just see Iowa, ever since I’ve been recruited by them, as a perfect fit for me,” Davidkov said. “I’m doing this commitment for myself because I know this place will be the best for me. It’s been my feeling for the past seven months.”

Doyle said part of the recreation of the recruiting process is maintaining some element of normalcy during a time when there is little.

"During this time period it’s not uncommon to have individual recruiting meeting every single day during this period,” Doyle said. “We’re not doing it to that frequency, but it’s still happening and we have some guys narrowing in on some very big-time life-time decisions right mo. So we’re doing everything we can to help facilitate the getting the information they need to choose Iowa.” 

Iowa typically signs at least one quarterback per class but has yet to do so in the 2021 class.

According to the Rivals.com database, Iowa has extended scholarship offers to eight quarterbacks in the 2021 class, seven of which have already verbally committed to other schools.

Four-star quarterback Donaven McCulley stands as the lone quarterback that remains undecided.

McCulley, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., announced his top five schools on April 11 but has not indicated when he intends to make a decision.

McCulley’s includes: Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, Mississippi and Missouri.

Iowa was the second school to offer Tyler Macon, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., and the first Big Ten school to offer Athan Kaliakmanis, a native of Antioch, Ill.

Macon verbally committed to Missouri in March, while Kaliakmanis verbally committed to Minnesota in March 2019.

Four-star quarterback Jake Rubley visited Iowa three times according to Rivals, but the Highlands Ranch, Co., native committed to Kansas State on Jan. 1.