Rosters across the Big Ten are largely set in the wake of signing day last week. To review the league’s haul in recruiting, with one eye looking forward to the 2016 season, the ESPN.com reporting crew is examining each team’s new complexion.
Next up: Iowa Hawkeyes
Team’s position of strength: Running back
Iowa lost Jordan Canzeri, its top rusher in 2015, but LeShun Daniels, Akrum Wadley and Derrick Mitchell return as tested competitors. The Hawkeyes erased any doubts last season about their willingness to feature various styles in the backfield. And they signed a pair of versatile runners in Toks Akinribade and Toren Young, both three-star prospects. Look for Chicago-area signee Barrington Wade, listed by ESPN as the nation’ No. 70 back, to begin his career at Iowa as a linebacker.
Team’s biggest need heading into signing day: Cornerback
The Hawkeyes defended the pass well in 2015, featuring Thorpe Award-winning cornerback Desmond King. Iowa allowed 5.8 yards per pass attempt, 21st nationally, and it returns much of its key talent. But King and Greg Mabin will be seniors. As coach Kirk Ferentz said, the Hawkeyes “are a little bit long in the tooth” at corner, with top backup Maurice Fleming also headed into his final season.
How Iowa addressed the need: It signed at least three potential corners
Of the group -- which includes Lance Billings, Cedric Boswell, Amami Hooker and Emmanuel Rugamba -- not everyone will join the battle a year from now to replace King and Mabin. But Iowa wants to take a hard look at several candidates. ESPN ranked Hooker as the best prospect of the four defensive backs, listing him 63rd nationally as an athlete. And he’s the biggest of the four at 203 pounds. Ferentz mentioned Rugamba, rated by ESPN as a wide receiver, specifically as a cornerback on signing day. Iowa lists Billings and Boswell in the 175-pound range, so they'll likely fit best on the edge of the defense, though Ferentz likes the versatility of his defensive signees.
Biggest need remaining: Defensive end
As many as five of the 24 new Hawkeyes figure to get a look at defensive end, where Iowa loses Nate Meier and possibly Drew Ott, who is still awaiting word on his application for a medical-hardship waiver. With three sophomores and a redshirt freshman on the two-deep at the position, Iowa is largely untested. So among a glut of big bodies in this class, Iowa identified Chauncey Golston, Cedrick Lattimore, Romeo McKnight, Austin Schulte and Brandon Simon as defensive ends. Simon is the third-highest ranked prospect in this class out of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey.