Five-star prospect A.J. Epenesa headlined this group of guys.
It might be a tad premature to make a determination on the 2017 Iowa football recruiting class but we’ve seen enough from the group to at least know there is the potential for it to be one of Kirk Ferentz’ best. Somehow, this class was ranked 41st in the country and 8th in the Big Ten despite getting five-star defensive end, A.J. Epenesa.
Tristan Wirfs, Djimon Colbert, Peyton Mansell, Mark Kallenberger, Matt Hankins, Brandon Smith, Ivory Kelly-Martin, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, and Geno Stone were all part of this class. Each guy has or is expected to make a significant contribution during their time in Iowa City.
Don’t forget that Daviyon Nixon was also part of this class as a junior college transfer. He was ranked as the 12th best defensive tackle in the country and the 3rd best prospect in the state of Wisconsin.
Wirfs was the first true freshman to start at tackle in the Ferentz era and is a lock to be a top 5 NFL Draft in 2020. He was recently ranked as The Athletic’s best college football “freak”.
Colbert came to Iowa as a cornerback but has converted to outside linebacker. He was 5th on the team in tackles a year ago (52) despite starting in just 10 games. He saw action in all 13 and will be the starter in 2019 until proven otherwise.
Both Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette had 361 receiving yards last season and both figure to see a boost in yards this season. Smith-Marsette is one of the fastest wide receivers Ferentz has ever had and was named the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year in 2018.
Geno Stone will be the starting strong safety in 2019 after playing mostly free safety in 12 games last season. He recorded 4 interceptions and should play a major role in a defense that figures to be ranked within the top 10 again.