Iowa football recruiting: Jay Scheel and Matt Nelson headline top-heavy 2014 class

Joe Robbins

The Hawkeyes need a strong close to avoid a bottom-third recruiting finish in the Big Ten.

After recruiting in the top half of the league for the first part of the decade, the Iowa Hawkeyes have fallen toward the back during the past couple of cycles and are in danger of having their 2014 recruiting class fall in the bottom third of the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes currently have 15 total commitments, with no four-star prospects, 13 three-star prospects and two two-star prospects according to the 247 Sports Composite recruiting index.

Iowa does, however, have some excellent prospects committed at the top of its class, the best of which is high three-star athlete Jay Scheel of La Porte City, IA. Scheel committed to Iowa in January over offers from Iowa State, Minnesota and Nebraska. Though Scheel has the talent to line up at a number of positions at the next level, he is expected to begin his career in Iowa City at wide receiver.

St. Louis (MO) St. John Vianney running back Markel Smith, a consensus high three-star recruit, pulled the trigger for Iowa in early November. He chose the Hawkeyes over Missouri and Ole Miss.

The Hawkeyes reached into Dallas, Texas, to secure a commitment from three-star safety prospect Jyaz Jones, who is listed by the 247 Sports Composite as the 88th-ranked safety in the 2014 class. Jones committed in June over offers from Baylor, Colorado State, Nebraska, New Mexico State and Texas Tech.

Perhaps the most intriguing current Hawkeye commitment is tight end/defensive end prospect Matt Nelson of Cedar Rapids. Nelson committed to Iowa in June with an impressive offer sheet that includes the likes of Stanford, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Florida State and Nebraska, among others. At 6'8, 250 pounds, Nelson is a physically imposing and versatile talent that could line up either on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

Iowa's best chance to land a blue chip prospect in the 2014 class is four-star offensive tackle Brian Wallace of Saint Louis, Missouri. Wallace is ranked as the 16th-best offensive tackle prospect and the 177th 2014 prospect overall, according to the 247 Sports Composite. The Hawkeyes will have to compete against national and regional recruiting powers Alabama, Nebraska and Arkansas to land the talented lineman. Wallace has not visited Iowa City since attending Junior Day over the summer. He has yet to set an official visit.

Still to come -- Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst

Iowa would love to land offensive tackle Brian Wallace, of Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis. Alabama seems like the main competition, but Iowa should have a good shot thanks to its excellent tradition with offensive linemen.

Even with Wallace, however, Iowa is not recruiting at a level that will see it return to the top of the conference. It needs more impact players on the defensive line and at receiver.

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