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Analyst: Addition of Ekakitie gives Iowa best collection of Chicagoland players

[ 4 ] December 8, 2011 |

The Iowa football team didn’t win a Big Ten title this season, but it could be on the verge of winning the race for high school senior recruits in the Chicago area.

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who is from the Chicago area, said Thursday that the addition of four-star defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie to Iowa’s recruiting class gives Iowa the best collection of players from the Chicago area.

Ekakitie, who attends Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Ill., committed to Iowa on Wednesday. He is the fourth high school senior from the Chicago area to pick Iowa.

The others are defensive back Maurice Fleming from Chicago, defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson from Lombard and offensive lineman Ryan Ward from New Lenox.

“I would say they’re doing better than anybody,” Lemming said of Iowa’s recruiting success in Chicago. “Nobody else has that many good players.”

The Iowa coaches would like to add to their collection of Chicago-area recruits with offensive lineman Jordan Diamond still considering the Hawkeyes, along with a host of other top programs. Diamond has received scholarship offers from virtually all of the Big Ten schools and from schools like Arkansas, Oregon, Florida State, Auburn and Miami (Fla.) among others.

“He’s still out there,” Lemming said of the 6-6, 289-pound Diamond, who attends Simeon High School in Chicago. “Jordan has got a lot of people looking at him.”

There is speculation Iowa might also have a chance to land defensive lineman Tommy Schutt, who is from the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn. Schutt committed to Penn State in August, but it’s uncertain if he’ll stick with the Nittany Lions in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal that surfaced at Penn State last month and led to Joe Paterno being fired as the Penn State head coach.

“In don’t know if they have a shot at Tommy Schutt, but so far so good in Chicago,” Lemming said. “And next year is going to be I think an even better year for talent in Chicago.”

Lemming said Iowa’s current haul from the Chicago area is similar to the 2005 recruiting class that included five coveted players from the Chicago area.

“If they get Diamond, yes, (it’s comparable),” Lemming said.

The 2005 class produced mixed results, though, with tight end Tony Moeaki and offensive lineman Dace Richardson the only players among the five from the Chicago area to earn all-Big Ten recognition at Iowa.

As for Ekakitie, who is originally from Africa and grew up in Canada, Lemming has evaluated him numerous times and raves about his potential.
“I love him,” Lemming said. “He’s a bit of a diamond in the rough. He’s got great athletic ability.

He’s tough. He’s instinctive and aggressive. He’s got all the tools to develop into a great player.”

Lemming said he thinks the 6-2 Ekakitie could weigh around 300 pounds in college and that would make him better suited to play defensive tackle. Ekakitie’s weight is currently listed anywhere from 255 to 275 pounds depending on the scouting service.

Lemming also spoke highly of Jaleel Johnson as an offensive lineman even though Johnson was recruited by Iowa as a defensive lineman.

“Jaleel Johnson could be an offensive guard,” Lemming said. “But they’ll start him out at defensive tackle and if he does well they’ll keep him there.

“But I’ve seen Johnson play a couple times this year and I thought he was better on offense than defense.”

Iowa has received verbal commitments from at least 13 high school seniors.

The Iowa coaches are prohibited from talking about a specific recruit before the recruit has signed a national letter of intent.

The signing period for football will start on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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