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Recruiting mailbag: Could Iowa signee Cooper DeJean play QB for the Hawkeyes?


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Hi, everyone. Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.

Did you see the tweet from CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein on Tuesday? He said sources told him several mid-major programs are planning to opt out of guarantee games against high-major programs because they don't want to provide an opportunity to scout mid-major talents who may eventually enter the transfer portal.

I have no doubt sources (probably a handful of coaches) told Rothstein that.

But whoever told him this is not thinking clearly. No, mid-majors aren't all of a sudden going to stop playing nonconference guarantee games against high-majors.

For one thing, coaches can evaluate any player in the country by watching TV or accessing film on the Synergy service.

Second, mid-major programs need the money from those games. They don't get TV money like Iowa or Iowa state does. 

And finally, mid-majors need these nonconference games against high-majors to build their at-large NCAA Tournament resumes. There's no way they're giving that up.

OK? OK.

Now, let's get to this week's questions, which focus on if an Iowa football signee is way too athletic to not play at quarterback, if any football prospects performed particularly well at state track, which high school Pryce Sandfort is attending next year, any updates on Josh Dix, Iowa State's basketball visit schedule and who Northern Iowa has hired to replace assistant coach Kyle Green.

Do you think Iowa might find ways to use Cooper DeJean at quarterback?

Several people asked this question on Twitter last weekend, when Iowa football signee Cooper DeJean was basically a superhero at the Iowa state track and field meet.

He started off Thursday by winning the Class 2A long jump with a mark of 23 feet, 7.5 inches — the longest of anyone in all four classes. On Saturday, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder won the 2A boys' 100-meter dash in 11.16 seconds. About 40 minutes later, he finished second in the 200-meter dash at 22.12 seconds. And about 40 minutes after that, he helped OABCIG win the 4x100-meter relay.

DeJean once again proved what he showed at the UNI Dome when OABCIG won the Class 1A state football title: He is a freak athlete.

However, it sounds like the Hawkeyes will use him as a safety and have no intentions of trying him out behind center. That's been the plan all along during his recruitment, and that's still the plan as DeJean gets ready to move to Iowa City in June.

"Iowa never really mentioned it," DeJean told me this week about the possibility of playing quarterback. "They think I would be better at defensive back."

It isn't a question of whether DeJean is good enough to play college quarterback.

He is. Just watch his film. While, yes, there is a bit of "super athlete who's just way too talented for small-school, Class 1A competition" going on, DeJean boasts an accurate, strong arm and his agility gives him all sorts of options when it comes to freelancing plays. And his running ability speaks for itself.

Virginia, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa were recruiting him at quarterback, he told me. That's a Power Five and two elite FCS programs. You don't lead your team to back-to-back state titles on accident. And completing 60% of your passes as a senior for 3,447 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 1,235 yards and 24 touchdowns? That's talent. 

It's more a question of how DeJean fits into Iowa's system. With his size and athleticism, he seems like an obvious fit at the cash position that Amani Hooker made famous a few years ago and that Dane Belton plays right now. DeJean told me Iowa is excited to get him in the secondary because he played quarterback in high school — so he'll be able to read and anticipate things better than prospects who have never thrown a pass.

Iowa usually works with a more pro-style quarterback, so coaches project him as a better fit as a game-changing safety; DeJean was pretty dang good at that in high school, too, as he racked up 53.5 tackles and three interceptions last fall.

Which other prospects had standout performances at state track?

Alex Mota — I wrote this during state track: You're going to start hearing a lot more about Marion 2023 athlete Alex Mota. The 6-2, 175-pounder holds offers from Iowa, Iowa State and Kansas State, plus interest from Notre Dame, Nebraska, Missouri and Northwestern. He helped Marion finish fifth in the Class 3A team by finishing second in the 100-meter dash, sixth in the 200-meter dash and fourth in the 400 relay.

Trey Porter — The 2022 Northern Illinois athlete/safety recruit from Ankeny Centennial ran impressive legs in the Jaguars relay races, helping them finish first in the Class 4A sprint medley, second in the 4x400, second in the 4x200 and fourth in the 4x100.

Trey Campbell — One of the state's top 2022 athletes with a basketball offer from Northern Iowa, the 6-4 Campbell helped Cedar Falls win the 4A team title. He was part of the Tigers' first-place distance medley team, second-place sprint medley team and fourth-place 4x200 team.

Xavier Nwankpa — The four-star Southeast Polk safety who's down to a final seven of Clemson, LSU, Iowa, Arizona State, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Notre Dame finished fourth in the 4A long jump and helped the Rams win the 4x100 relay.

Tamin Lipsey — Ames' three-star Iowa State point guard recruit logged his season-best long jump at the state meet, clearing 22 feet, 2 inches, which was seventh place.

Kody Huisman — Pella's defensive lineman who will play for North Dakota State next year finished third in the 3A discus and won the shot put.

Layne Pryor — Woodbine's tight end who will play for Northern Iowa next year finished second in the Class 1A shot put and won the discus. Oh, by the way, he also finished 16th in the 200-meter dash (23.41 seconds) as a 6-3, 225-pounder.

Where is Pryce Sandfort playing next year?

Waukee Northwest. The new school.

In case you didn't know, athletic powerhouse Waukee is splitting into two schools next fall. It will become Waukee and Waukee Northwest.

The Warriors and the Wolves.

This split is following the Ankeny/Ankeny Centennial model, not the Iowa City Liberty model. Translation: It's an immediate, half-and-half split. Waukee Northwest will have full freshman-through-senior classes and compete immediately at the Class 4A level, unlike Liberty, which gave rising juniors and seniors at Iowa City West and City High the option of finishing at their current school (which the overwhelming majority did).

So Sandfort, the 6-6-and-growing sharpshooter with interest from the likes of Iowa, Drake, Northern Iowa and Marquette, will be Waukee Northwest's star next year. He is one of Iowa's top 2023 prospects, and his stock has seen a nice bump so far this spring while playing with the OSA Crusaders. That team plays on the Adidas 3SSB circuit, so Sandfort will play in front of lots of Division I coaches during the three live evaluation periods this July.

Any updates on Josh Dix?

Speaking of talented Iowans playing on the OSA Crusaders ...

No, Council Bluffs Lincoln combo guard Josh Dix told me there's nothing new to report.

So the latest is still the latest: He plans to visit Iowa, Drake and Purdue (June 18-19) unofficially in June. He also holds offers from Wake Forest, Colorado State, South Dakota State and Missouri-Kansas City. And he's fielding interest from Iowa State, Creighton and Porter Moser-led Oklahoma.

A 6-4 perimeter player whose home is at shooting guard but who can also run the point and man the wing, Dix is the type of versatile talent who could benefit greatly from the NCAA adding two more live periods in July. Expect him to land more high-major offers before he makes a college decision.

What does Iowa State's recruiting visit schedule look like right now?

As of Wednesday morning, here's what I'm told Iowa State has set in terms of visits:

Unofficial:

June 1 — Ames three-star point guard recruit Tamin Lipsey and Minnesota four-star combo guard recruit Eli King

June 16 — Waukee five-star 2023 wing Omaha Biliew

Official:

June 9-11 — Penn State wing transfer Izaiah Brockington

June 22-24 — Texas four-star combo guard Anthony Black

Sept. 11 — Lipsey and King

June 16 with Biliew and June 22-24 with Black are the biggies right now. Assistant coach J.R. Blount has taken measures recently to show Biliew and his camp the Cyclones are interested and will be involved in the 6-8 star's recruitment. And, with his dad's ties to Milwaukee, Black is receiving an all-out courtship from T.J. Otzelberger. His visit is Iowa State's first official visit on the books for the 2022 class.

Who will replace Kyle Green on Northern Iowa's coaching staff?

Northern Iowa announced Tuesday that it was promoting Seth Tuttle to replace Kyle Green as Ben Jacobson's third assistant coach.

A former All-American during his playing days at UNI, Tuttle began on staff as a graduate assistant in 2018 and was promoted to video coordinator in 2020. Now, he's a mid-major, Division I assistant coach before the age of 30.

Any time you hire from within and reward loyalty, it's a win in my book. Any time you can hire an alumnus whose name is littered throughout your program's record book, it's a win in my book. Any time you can hire someone from your main recruiting pool (Tuttle is an Iowa product from West Fork High School), it's a win in my book.

So, yeah, this hire is a win in my book.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Drake basketball and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network.  Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.