IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Hawkeyes’ incoming freshman class has reported to Iowa City with 18 of the 21 scholarship newcomers coming aboard for workouts starting this week.

Most of the newcomers are developmental prospects with eyes on entering true competition in 2026 or so. For a few, there’s potential to contribute this year on special teams. In addition, there’s a solid group of walk-ons, many of whom turned down FCS scholarships to compete at Iowa. Three scholarship freshmen — tight end Gavin Hoffman, punter Rhys Dakin and offensive lineman Josh Janowski — enrolled in January.

Here’s a look at Iowa’s true freshman scholarship players.

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Quarterback (1)

James Resar (6-foot-4, 205) committed to Iowa at an ebb for the offense following a 10-7 loss to Iowa State in 2022. Despite several ACC schools inquiring about his interest, the Jacksonville, Fla., native never wavered.

Resar completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall. He also rushed for 356 yards and four scores. With great speed, Resar ran the 100-meter dash in 10.67 seconds and competed in the 200, 400 and 4×100-meter relay team at Bishop Kenny High School.

“James has a role as a passer, but you can’t deny the athletic ability that he has, and that’s something that intrigued us,” Iowa recruiting director Tyler Barnes said. “Something maybe a little bit different than we have in the room currently and in the past few years.”

Running back (2)

The Hawkeyes couldn’t have two more different running backs in one class, and that’s just fine for their offense. Brevin Doll (6-0, 190) will rank among the nation’s fastest players and could wind up returning kicks this year. Xavier Williams (6-0, 230) is all power.

For ADM High School, Doll won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Iowa state track meet last month, and his preliminary times in both events (10.4 in the 100, 21.1 in the 200) rank second and third, respectively, in state history.

“The very first time when we looked at Brevin, we were worried about his size,” Barnes said. “The more he got up here, the more we started seeing him fill out a little bit, and we felt a little bit better about where his body was going.”

An injury limited Doll to only a handful of games this year, when he rushed for 347 yards and scored six total touchdowns. As a junior, he ran for 1,475 yards on 179 carries for 27 touchdowns (8.2 yards per carry) and added 33 catches for 640 yards and six scores plus two more on returns.

A knee injury kept Williams to five games last fall, but he still rushed for 669 yards and eight touchdowns. As a junior for Lake Central (Ind.) High School, Williams ran for 1,451 yards and 13 touchdowns on 223 carries.

“Our running game, the way we run the football inside-outside zone, he fits who we are,” Barnes said. “He may not be a sub-11, 100-meter guy like Brevin is, but when you are running third and fourth quarter with a guy that’s 235 pounds, that wears on linebackers and safeties. That’s what we’re hoping that Xavier can be.”

Wide receiver (2)

In a big-time in-state battle, Reece Vander Zee (6-4, 190) picked the Hawkeyes over Iowa State. A two-way threat from Chicagoland, KJ Parker (5-11, 165) chose Iowa over Cincinnati and Wisconsin. Both have shots to see action as true freshmen.

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Vander Zee was a four-sport star at Central Lyon High School in northwest Iowa, running the 100-meter dash in 10.99 seconds, averaging 24.6 points per game in basketball and recording a 1.58 ERA last summer with 109 strikeouts and 18 walks. In football, he was a dual-threat quarterback last fall, throwing for 1,288 yards and rushing for 1,767 yards and 24 touchdowns.

“He’s going to be a physical presence on the outside,” Barnes said. “You can’t teach length. You can’t teach the explosiveness he has. You see that on the basketball film. He runs well, obviously a good track athlete.

“Reece is probably a little bit of an anomaly in-state just given his size, stature, and his overall athletic profile.”

Parker caught 40 passes for 742 yards and six touchdowns last fall at Immaculate Conception (Ill.) Prep. As a defensive back, Parker added 31 tackles, four interceptions and 13 passes defensed.

“When we started recruiting KJ, we thought he was a corner,” Barnes said. “Matt Bowen, our former safety, coaches there so that was our ‘in’ to KJ. (Matt) thought (Parker) was going to be a better corner than receiver. If you talk to Matt now after what he saw this year, he thinks this kid’s dynamic. He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He’s going to fit pretty well.”

Tight end (2)

Gavin Hoffman (6-5, 220) arrived on campus for spring semester and went through a full winter conditioning period before learning Iowa’s offense. At Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.) High School, Hoffman caught a school-record 18 touchdown passes and totaled 60 catches for 1,227 yards the last two seasons. He also posted a vertical jump of 40 ½ inches.

Iowa targeted Burt (6-5 ½, 226) early and kept him away from Nebraska at the end. At Creighton Prep in Omaha, Neb., Burt caught 26 passes for 457 yards and four scores the last two seasons.

“Michael is a little bit more reserved, probably more of a Y in terms of what we do at tight ends,” Barnes said. “Gavin’s got personality and some confidence that you like. I don’t think there’s anything that’s going to scare this kid and he’s more of a flex guy who really can run around. So think (T.J.) Hockenson and (Noah) Fant. But I think two guys that really complement each other well.

“If you were to put (Burt) in Bellevue West over there, he’d probably have 20 offers. We’ll take it, because I think we know we’re getting.”

Offensive line (4)

The Hawkeyes plucked three Chicagoland prospects plus a homegrown talent for the offensive line. Four-star guard Cody Fox (6-5, 270) hails from East Buchanan (Iowa) High School and committed to Iowa after his freshman year. He was well-rounded on both sides of the ball (50 tackles for loss in three seasons) and first-team all-state. Fox also finished fourth at state wrestling as a Class 1A heavyweight and competed in the shot and discus in track this spring.

Will Nolan (6-6, 275) was a steal as an athletic and powerful tackle prospect. At John Hersey (Ill.) High School, Nolan was a consensus four-star and honorable mention all-state in Class 7A. He also finished second at Illinois’ large-class state track in the shot put.

“I remember when (Will) walked over the first time. I was like holy s—, this is what an offensive tackle is supposed to look like,” Barnes said. “A big kid, broad shoulders and still not completely developed. The weight room is going to be really good to him.”

Angular with a frame that easily could put on weight, Bodey McCaslin (6-5, 270) has a nasty on-field disposition that he frequently showcased at St. Charles (Ill.) East High School. McCaslin, who qualified for state track in discus, picked Iowa over Penn State, Kansas State and Nebraska.

“(McCaslin) was aggressive,” Barnes said. “He was tough. What we just didn’t know was is he going to grow into a tackle? As he kept coming on campus, you started seeing him fill out and he kept growing. And that’s when I’m like, ‘Hey, this is what we’re looking for.’”

The final piece was interior lineman Josh Janowski (6-2, 275), who enrolled in January. A Class 8A first-team all-state selection, Janowski played at Lincoln-Way East High School in Tinley Park, Ill.

“Josh is kind of just an a– kicker, a road grater and he wanted to be here in the worst way,” Barnes said. “He probably could have had some other offers but this was the spot he wanted to be and he made it known.

“I think these last two O-line classes have been pretty dang good. It’s going to set the foundation for getting the O-line back to what everybody’s used to seeing here.”

Defensive line (4)

Iowa’s quartet of defensive linemen all are development projects for different reasons. Joseph Anderson (6-5, 220) has immense potential once he puts on weight. At Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, Anderson won the triple jump in Missouri’s largest state track meet at 49 feet, 9 inches and finished fourth in the long jump (23-4 ½). He also finished ninth in the 110-meter high hurdles (14.38) at state. Anderson, the son of former NFL offensive lineman Bennie Anderson, recorded 65 tackles, including 23 for loss, and seven sacks last year.

“We have no doubt once Joseph gets here and gets in the weight room, he’s going to put on weight,” Barnes said. “I’m pretty sure he is going to keep that athletic ability he has. Some of the stuff he can do at that size, it’s really intriguing and fun to see.”

Chima Chineke (6-4 ½, 240) has a massive frame coupled with speed, power and skill. Last fall at Plano (Texas) East High School, Chineke finished with 48 tackles, including eight for loss, and 5.5 sacks. Chineke tabbed Iowa over Texas Tech and Kansas.

“A humongous human being,” Barnes said. “He is going to be massive once he gets here and gets in our weight room and really works with Coach (Raimond) Braithwaite and his staff.”

Drew Campbell (6-4, 225), the brother of Detroit Lions linebacker Jack Campbell, recorded 64 tackles, including 21.5 for loss, and six sacks last fall for Cedar Falls (Iowa) High School. He also finished sixth at heavyweight in the Class 3A state wrestling tournament. As a junior, Campbell added 52 tackles with 20 for loss and nine sacks.

“Personality-wise they couldn’t be more polar opposite,” Barnes said about the Campbell brothers. “Jack is quiet and stoic. Drew has a little bit personality to him.

“The kid is tough. He is relentless. He is a hard charger. That was a pretty easy one for us.”

Raw but loaded with potential, Devan Kennedy (6-3, 240) finished with 49 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, and 4.5 sacks last year at Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, Ariz. The son of former Penn State defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy, Devan Kennedy picked Iowa over Oregon State and a late offer from the Nittany Lions. He just began playing football as a junior.

“We worry sometimes when you’re a basketball player and you are playing football,” Barnes said. “Not saying basketball players are soft, but they’re very different sports. Devan didn’t look anything like that.”

Linebacker (3)

A talented trio of linebackers, all of whom grew up within 45 miles of Iowa City, have a chance to turn this class into an elite crew. Both Derek Weisskopf (6-3, 210) and Cam Buffington (6-3, 225) were consensus four-star prospects at Williamsburg and Winfield-Mount Union high schools, respectively. Preston Ries (6-2, 215) was as tenacious of any competitor in any sport at Monticello High School.

Weisskopf played quarterback and linebacker for the 3A champion. He passed for 1,123 yards and 20 TDs and totaled 529 yards and six scores as a rusher and receiver. He added 58.5 tackles and four interceptions (including a score) on defense. He also averaged 20.9 points per game in basketball and totaled 1,459 in his career. But his athletic ability was on full display in track and field. At the state meet, he finished second in the discus this year (181-0) and was second in the shot put (55-5 ¾) as a junior. He won the state high jump crown as a junior (6-7) and hit a new PR as a senior (6-8) and tied for second place.

All-everything in 8-man football, Buffington rushed 118 times for 1,362 yards and 25 scores plus caught 22 passes for 613 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also recorded 106.5 tackles (18.5 for loss) and four sacks. He finished his basketball career with 1,634 points and won the state long jump title as a junior.

Last fall, Ries led all classes with 57 total touchdowns, including 33 on the ground. Ries passed for 2,559 yards and rushed for 1,926 yards. He also had 97 tackles, including 27.5 for loss, and five sacks. He finished his basketball career with 1,733 points and averaged 26.4 per game last season. He also started throwing the shot just before his district meet and finished fourth in Class 2A. He also was fifth in the discus.

“This is probably one of the more excited I’ve been about a full linebacker class,” Barnes said. “All three can probably play at any given time once they get here.”

Secondary (2)

A pair of three-star cornerbacks enter Iowa’s secondary. Rashad Godfrey (6-1, 180) finished with 44 tackles, five passes defensed and two fumble recoveries this year at Armwood High School in Seffner, Fla.

Jaylen Watson (6-0, 170) was a first-team All-Ohio Division III wide receiver at Toledo Central Catholic (Ohio) High School. He caught 62 passes for 1,101 yards and nine touchdowns while adding five more rushing scores. Watson is the nephew of former Iowa running back Fred Russell.

Watson was recruited specifically at defensive back in part because he has a similar skill set as Parker. It’s possible they flip positions at some point but right now that’s not part of the plan.

“Who knows what will happen?” Barnes said. “I think Phil is pretty excited about him. I know I’m excited about him.

“He is a dynamic kid with the ball in his hands. His fluidity, his length is something that … corners don’t grow on trees or move like that. If we can find guys like that, and we’ll take them all day long.”

Punter (1)

With Tory Taylor’s success the last four years, new punter Rhys Dakin of ProKick Australia has to live up to sizable expectations. Dakin (6-3, 210) enrolled in January and is likely to secure the Iowa punting job.

“I knew what I was walking into and that I had big shoes to fill,” Dakin said in April.

(Top photo of Cody Fox: Scott Dochterman / The Athletic)



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