Even before Amani Hooker and Anthony Nelson announced plans to leave early for the NFL draft, Kirk Ferentz suggested any February additions to Iowa’s 2019 football recruiting class would likely be defensive players.
A defensive back from the talent-rich Lombard Montini program announced plans to join the Hawkeyes on Monday and Iowa remains in the mix for defensive linemen as the start of the February signing period on Wednesday approaches.
Jermari Harris, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound safety who started for a Montini team that reached the Illinois Class 5A state championship game last fall, followed a weekend recruiting visit to Iowa by committing on Monday.
Harris said the history defensive coordinator and secondary coach Phil Parker has in developing defensive backs made a significant impact on his decision to select Iowa.
He made two unofficial visits to Hawkeye practices prior to the Outback Bowl before making his official visit last weekend.
“If you look at the guys who have come through that program, what they’ve done and how they’ve gone on and competed at the next level, they can help get me where I want to go,’’ Harris said. “Watching Coach Parker work with his guys (in December) and talking with the players over the weekend, it’s a good spot for me.’’
The Hawkeyes’ recruitment of Harris began during his junior season and he made official visits to Ball State and North Dakota State before he took his official visit to Iowa last weekend. He also received interest from Northern Illinois.
Rated by Rivals.com as a three-star prospect on a five-star scale, Harris intercepted eight passes and broke up five more during his senior season for a 12-2 team.
He recorded six of his 72 tackles in the state championship game and also forced a pair of fumbles over the course of the season.
“I feel like I can be a good fit for what they like to do and it will be a good place for me to develop as a player,’’ Harris said. “The coaches, the facilities, they’re incredible. It took some time for things to work out, but this is where I want to be.’’
Harris is the first player from Montini to join the Hawkeye program since current Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.
Another 2019 prospect who visited the Iowa campus last weekend will announce his decision Wednesday.
Taajhir McCall, a 6-4, 225-pound defensive end from Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Florida, is selecting among Army, Navy and the Hawkeyes.
McCall counted 11 sacks among his 88 tackles last season and recorded eight quarterback hurries as a senior at Pine Forest, returning to action after sitting out the 2017 season.
While McCall will make his call on signing day, a defensive tackle who is ranked among the top three players in the Class of 2020 in Iowa high schools, commited to the Hawkeyes on Sunday.
Logan Jones, a 6-3, 250-pound junior at Lewis Central High School in Council Bluffs announced his commitment on Twitter.
Holding scholarship offers from Iowa State and Minnesota as well as the Hawkeyes, Jones is the third defensive lineman to verbally commit to Iowa as part of its 2020 recruiting class.
“I really feel like I can learn a lot from (defensive line coach Reese) Morgan,’’ Jones said. “His track record speaks for itself and from the start, I felt a good connection there. I feel like the staff there, I can learn a lot from them.’’
Jones joins defensive linemen Michael Lois of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and Isaiah Bruce of Lena, Illinois, among a group of commitments that includes quarterback Deuce Hogan of Grapevine, Texas and running back Gavin Williams, a former Southeast Polk player who plans to complete his career at West Des Moines Dowling.
Earning Iowa Class 3A first-team all-state honors last fall from the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association, Jones counted 8.5 sacks among the 49 tackles he recorded as a junior. He is ranked by Rivals.com and 247Sports as a three-star prospect on a five-star scale.