- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Recruits: 21 (all high school seniors, two players have enrolled early)
Top prospects: Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is an ESPNU 150 selection who should challenge for playing time right away following the departure of Tony Moeaki. Offensive tackle Andrew Donnal certainly fits the mold at Iowa, which always produces great O-linemen. Marcus Coker won't contribute right away at a crowded running back position, but he'll be very good down the line. Athlete A.J. Derby will find a spot on the field early in his career.
Sleepers: Linebacker James Morris could end up being a key contributor for the Hawkeyes defense. Austin Vier is an intriguing prospect who will get a shot at quarterback but likely will move to tight end.
Needs met: Iowa will need to reload along the defensive line beginning in 2011, so five recruits at either end or tackle should help. The same goes at linebacker. The offensive line has a few question marks this year, and while Donnal could step in as a freshman, both he and Brandon Scherff will help in the future. This class addresses the tight end position for years to come.
Analysis: Arguably no staff in the Big Ten gets more out of less than Iowa's coaches, so fans clamoring for five-star recruits should simply consult the history books. Iowa doesn't need immediate help at too many positions, though Fiedorowicz could be a key contributor this season alongside Allen Reisner. There's a lot of versatility in this class, so it will be interesting to see what Kirk Ferentz and his assistants do with players like Derby and Vier.
Scouts Inc. grade: B-minus
What Kirk Ferentz said:
"This year we went a little heavier maybe on defense, certainly with three of our four defensive linemen next year being seniors. The next two guys being juniors. It was real important to us to get some guys in that we felt could be involved right away. And same thing with our linebacker position, we've got a heavy group of seniors next year. We just graduated two outstanding players [Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds]. So those are two positions we felt were really, it was important to fortify."
(On A.J. Derby) "He's a winner. And on top of that, you know, we think he's got a lot of upside at the quarterback position. If that doesn't work down the road, there's probably a lot of things he could do. ... That's our intent is for him to play quarterback. We're eager to see how he can progress and improve. And if things change in our style a little bit, that's fine."
"There aren't too many guys we're counting on to save our team next year. But they're really going to be important in our future. And we'll have the discussion down the road possibly about are you going to be a special teams guy, a back-up guy, get your feet wet, and then we're going to have a lot of vacancies a year from now. I know that."