Iowa football 2021 defensive recruiting breakdown

The Hawkeyes have intriguing prospects at every level of the defense in the 2021 recruiting class.

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Lily Smith

Northwestern running back Isaiah Bowser is tackled by Iowa defense during the Iowa/Northwestern football game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, November 10, 2018.

Robert Read, Sports Editor


Last season, the Iowa football team had one of the best defenses in the country. Defensive Coordinator Phil Parker’s squad allowed only 14 points per game, which helped the Hawkeyes compile 10 wins and a victory in the Holiday Bowl.

Moving forward, the defensive side of the ball may only be getting stronger. To this point, seven defensive players have committed to Iowa’s 2021 recruiting class. Here’s what to expect from them. Athlete sizes are according to 247Sports.

DE Jeffrey Bowie — 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, West Branch, Iowa

Bowie was a big in-state recruit for defensive line coach Kelvin Bell to land. Bowie has the size of a natural defensive end. He will continue to fill out his frame before he gets to Iowa and will definitely do so once he starts working with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

Bowie has a combination of size and quickness that have allowed him to dominate at the high school level. As a junior, he tallied 15 tackles for loss and six sacks. He did so against 1A competition, but the Iowa staff liked what it saw nonetheless.

S Cooper DeJean — 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Ida Grove, Iowa 

A natural safety, DeJean could also have a future at linebacker or as an offensive skill player. A high school quarterback, DeJean is effortlessly athletic with good speed and explosiveness.

DeJean has great vision with the ball in his hands and has the ability to make people miss. He is currently projected as a safety for Iowa, and he’s been very productive at that position in high school on limited snaps. The Iowa staff will have a lot of flexibility with finding DeJean a position.

LB Jaden Harrell — 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Urbandale, Iowa 

Harrell is a sure-tackler with good leverage at linebacker. He’s a defensive playmaker for Urbandale that makes plays all over the field. Harrell has shown he is comfortable dropping back into coverage, although he has not been tested very much.

The Iowa coaching staff will help Harrell learn how to get off blocks in traffic, one area where he struggles at times. 

DT Griffin Liddle — 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, Bettendorf, Iowa

A talented wrestler in high school, Liddle should fit right in with what Iowa wants to do on the defensive line. Liddle plays with good leverage and is violent with his hands at the line of scrimmage.

Liddle plays very aggressively on the defensive line and closes very quickly.

CB Jordan Oladokun — 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Tampa, Florida

Oladokun plays both cornerback and wide receiver at the high school level. The past two seasons, he has registered nine interceptions and five receiving touchdowns.

RELATED: Iowa football 2021 offensive recruiting breakdown

Among Oladoun’s other offers were Maryland, Georgia Tech, and Penn State. Iowa recently recruited Dane Belton in 2018, who was also from the Tampa area.

LB Justice Sullivan — 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Eden Prairie, Minnesota

His body type seems to suggest he will translate as a linebacker at the college level, but Sullivan does have experience as a pass rusher. Iowa could be creative and move him as in different pass rushing situations and take advantage of Sullivan’s athleticism and burst.

Sullivan will need to get more reps dropping back into coverage, but he has the quickness and awareness to do that at the college level.

LB Zach Twedt — 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Story City, Iowa

Twedt will likely play linebacker in college, but also has the ability to play to tight end if that is where Iowa could best use him. Twedt had previously committed to Iowa State before decommitting and deciding to go with Iowa.

Twedt has bulked up over the course of his high school career but still has the ability to fly all over the field and make plays.

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