Iowa hasn't exactly been tearing it up in the recruiting rankings lately. But the Hawkeyes are managing to keep their in-state talent home during this cycle.
The latest Iowan to say yes to Iowa is Cedar Rapids defensive end/tight end Matt Nelson, who committed to the Hawkeyes on Thursday. Nelson is listed at 6-foot-7 and close to 250 pounds, which can be useful in a lot of places (and probably even intrigues basketball coach Fran McCaffery). Iowa reportedly recruited him solely as a defensive end, a position that has been lacking in upper-echelon talent for them the past couple of seasons.
ESPN.com doesn't have Nelson rated, but other services have him as a three-star prospect. He was good enough to draw scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Stanford, Nebraska, Arkansas and Wisconsin, so he has talent.
The Hawkeyes don't always run in those circles but have done a great job in their own backyard, which is crucial because their state doesn't usually produce a ton of FBS prospects. They've now got five of the top 2014 Iowa prospects committed, including Ross Pierschbacher, whom ESPN.com ranks as the No. 1 guard in the class.
The program's recent slide can be largely attributed to a lack of difference-makers on both sides of the ball. Iowa needs to correct that, and locking up the best players in its own state is a good start to that.