The Iowa football team received a commitment from 4-star tight end Luke Lachey last night, but that shouldn’t stop their pursuit of 4-star TE Theo Johnson.
With the Iowa football team’s 22nd commitment in the class of 2020 in Luke Lachey, recruitment is coming to a close. There are likely just 2-3 more scholarships left in the class (obviously this can vary depending on transfers, early draft entrants, etc), and the Hawks have filled each of their major needs after that last wave of recruiting frenzy.
Furthermore, the Iowa football team officially has two scholarship tight ends committed in the class of 2020, which for most schools would be plenty.
For the Hawkeyes, however, it isn’t enough.
This past season was one of the history books in terms of tight end production. Both TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant were All-Big Ten selections, All-Americans, and first round draft picks. They also both came from the 2016 recruiting class along with another tight end, Shaun Beyer. This is important to note because of the development of each.
Fant was the athletic freak who got playing time instantly. Hockenson was the tight end that needed (maybe he didn’t according to reports) a year on the bench to grow into his frame, and Beyer needed to learn the nuances of playing the tight end position for the Iowa football team. Both Hockenson and Fant are gone and it leaves Beyer ready to step up, but had it none been for an injury last year, we likely would have seen Beyer get key snaps in the Outback Bowl and even before that.
When I look at the class of 2020, Yelverton reminds me a bit of Hockenson. Both are coming in at roughly the same size and are the least heralded recruit of the three (also, for whatever it’s worth, Yelverton should be a four-star). More importantly, though, Yelverton is coming out of high school having played in a variety of spots as a tight end. At Bishop Dunne, he lined up as an H-back, in-line, and slot and he’s been asked to block in the run game.
Coming into college, my guess is Yelverton redshirts his first year to gain some more weight on his frame.
Lachey is an interesting projection because I haven’t found any tape of his blocking, but his receiver skills are fantastic. He high-points the ball and has the quickness and agility to get big chunks of yards after the catch. There may be some development needed from a blocking perspective, but there’s a reason why he is a four-star recruit. He’s good.
Both of these players should have fantastic careers with the Iowa football team, and I am excited to see them in the black and gold, but I firmly believe the Hawkeyes should continue their pursuit of Theo Johnson.
Johnson is a rare specimen that could step in on day one and play a few snaps for the Hawks, a la Noah Fant. He’s the fourth-rated tight end recruit in the nation and he recently posted some solid combine-like numbers displaying his elite athleticism at his age and size (6’6” and 240 pounds). He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash and jumped 35.2 inches in the vertical.
That size and athleticism right now may make it difficult to keep him off the field if he decides to join the Iowa football team. You don’t just pass on that kind of talent. You add it to your already deep and strong position group and let the players compete.
That being said, if he chooses to go elsewhere, the Hawks are in great hands with Yelverton and Lachey for years to come, but adding Johnson to this class would only make it better. It would improve the competition even more and it would give the Hawkeyes a plethora of options for the next five years when including the 2019 recruiting class, which also included three tight ends.