Iowa Football: 5 Recruits Most Likely to Make the Depth Chart as Freshmen
College football's second season has been under way in Iowa City since November 23, by which point the Iowa Hawkeyes failed to qualify for a bowl and their season effectively ended.
As the Hawks have had two young teams in a row, few freshmen from next year's class are likely to play in 2013, let alone make the depth chart. This is complicated by what is shaping up to be a fairly weak recruiting class.
That doesn't mean some freshmen won't take the field.
The key criteria used to predict which freshmen have a shot at making the depth chart next year concerned whether they were ready physically, the abilities they've already demonstrated and where Iowa is most in need of immediate help.
It's still a long way to signing day—February 6—and that means that more prospects could commit to the Hawkeyes. It also means many of the current commits could choose other options. Nonetheless, right now, the following the players have the best shot of finding themselves somewhere on the depth chart on opening day.
Solomon Warfield, Safety
Scout Profile: No. 41 safety in the country
Rivals Profile: No. 51 safety in the country
ESPN Profile: No. 36 safety in the country
The safeties that currently make up the depth chart have a lot to answer for in 2013. In 2012, the Hawkeyes played musical chairs at the safety position, and none of the five safeties who earned played time performed especially well.
Much of this has been the product of terrible recruiting at the position over the last few years.
If 4-star Michigan safety Delano Hill had opted to stick with Iowa instead of flipping to the Wolverines, he would have been almost a lock to burn his redshirt.
As it is, Warfield looks to be the best most game-ready safety prospect on Iowa's current verbal list.
However, if the lowest of Warfield's listed weights—170 pounds on Rivals—is accurate, he will be considerably lighter than where he needs to be to play Big Ten football.
Hopefully, he knows how to play smart and technically sound, because a safety that burns his redshirt is likely to play on the suicide squad—i.e. kick return coverage.
Malik Rucker, Safety
Scout Profile: No. 50 safety in the country
Rivals Profile: No. 32 safety in the country
ESPN Profile: No. 37 safety in the country
Rucker is in the same position as Warfield.
Rucker might be slightly more versatile and durable than Warfield as well. All three of the sites list him as 175 pounds, though he is also listed as between 5'11" and 6'0". In other words, while Solomon is most likely 6'0" and the least of his weights—170 pounds—Rucker is most likely 5'11" and 175 pounds. Therefore, he has more mass density and is slightly more physically ready for collegiate football.
Either way, the Iowa safety position group is in such a state that it is possible and even probable that at least two true freshmen could burn their redshirts as well as find themselves on the depth chart.
Andre Harris, Wide Receiver
Scout Profile: No. 210 receiver in the country
Rivals Profile: No national ranking; listed as athlete
ESPN Profile: No. 78 athlete in the country
Under normal circumstances, Harris would be unlikely to take a snap in an Iowa uniform for at least a year, regardless at which position he winds up.
He is listed as anywhere between 5'11" and 6'1" and 157 pounds to 170 pounds. In short, no matter how one spells it out, he is a string bean.
On the other hand, all three recruiting sites agree on one thing: Harris is fast. Both Rivals and ESPN list his 40 time as 4.44 seconds, while Scout doesn't have a measurement. Needless to say, at his weight, he will have to be fast.
With that in mind, one thing that offensive coordinator Greg Davis has made abundantly clear—as he did in this preseason article by the Cedar Rapid Gazette's Scott Dochterman—is that he wants speed at the receiver positions, something that was lacking last year.
Given Harris' current physical stature, he could break in two if he takes one solid hit. Perhaps he will just have to avoid getting tackled.
As an aside, Harris will not see the playing field in 2013 if the coaches put him on the defensive side of the ball.
Derrick Willies, Wide Receiver
Scout Profile: No. 85 receiver in the country
Rivals Profile: No national ranking
ESPN Profile: No. 155 receiver in the country
As with Harris, if one is to believe the recruiting sites, Willies has the speed that Greg Davis covets.
On the other hand, unlike Harris, Willies' size is not a liability.
In effect, it is unlikely he runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds as Rivals reports. If he did, given his reported size—between 6'3"-6'4" and between 190-195 pounds—he would be more than a 3-star receiver and would have more offers than Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Illinois.
As Iowa is and will continue to look for playmaking receivers wherever it can find them, Willies will have a good shot to see immediate playing time.
LeShun Daniels, Running Back
Scout Profile: No. 97 running back in the country
Rivals Profile: No national ranking; listed as a running back
ESPN Profile: No. 133 running back in the country
Currently, Iowa has plenty of tailbacks. All of them are healthy—Barkley Hill is recovering from an ACL tear sustained in August—academically eligible and presumably committed to staying at Iowa.
If things stay as they are now, Daniels won't see the field in 2013, at least not as a tailback.
However, if things go as they have gone for Iowa running backs—if AIRBHG rears his vengeful head—Daniels could be starting by October.
By that same logic, he could also transfer by December.
On the other hand, Daniels is listed on all three sites as between 215-220 pounds and between 5'11"-6'0". Therefore, he is physically ready for the next level of football, and he could move to fullback, a position at which Iowa is woefully understaffed.
Another option is a 30-40 pound weight gain and a move to defensive end, though if that were to take place he wouldn't see the playing field in 2013.