The nation’s top safety recruit, Xavier Nwankpa, is staying home to play for the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Southeast Polk (IA) star announced a top three of Iowa, Notre Dame, and Ohio State on Oct. 2 prior to announcing his pledge to Iowa today.

Many speculated that Ohio State was the team to beat early on, then it turned to Notre Dame for a period of time, but in the end he chose to stay home and represent his state.

What the Hawkeyes are getting:

Nwankpa is an elite talent with upside that is rarely seen in an Iowa recruiting class. That says a lot when you consider how many players the Hawkeyes put in the NFL. The Iowa recruiting model has typically been to identify players that fit their program, and then develop them into star players. Now they have a player who is already a star in the making. When you consider what the Hawkeye staff has done in developing lesser talent, you begin to wonder how far they can take a player with Nwankpa’s tools.

Nwankpa has an NFL frame which still has plenty of room for growth, and should flourish in the Iowa weight program. He has great speed, is extremely efficient in all of his movements, shows great range, and is physical to boot. Along with being an elite safety, Nwankpa also has next level ability as a return man. He is extremely impressive with the ball in his hands, and one could argue that Nwankpa has a skill-set that makes him a future NFL prospect on both sides of the ball.

Why it’s big for Iowa:

Xavier Nwankpa will be the highest rated in-state prospect that Iowa has ever signed, and the second highest rated overall. The Hawkeyes showed flashes of being a championship caliber team this year, and one could argue that they are only a couple of elite players away from competing for a spot in the college football playoff. Not only is Nwankpa an elite talent, he is also connected with a number of highly rated recruits across the country. You have to look no further than his own teammate, five-star OT Kadyn Proctor, for an example. His pledge could prove to pay dividends on the recruiting trail from day one. It is almost hard to put into words how big this commitment is for Iowa.

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